A South Korean whale meat monger prepares a dish for customers in Pusan.
KFEM has been conducting a non-lethal,
scientificsurvey on whales and dolphins for the past eleven days
off the Koreancoast, on board the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow
Warrior. Preliminaryresults (1) indicate that whales and dolphins
in the area are inserious trouble and that they face many threats,
the most serious ofwhich are over-fishing and high incidents of
"We've been lucky enough to see some beautiful
andrare creatures in these waters - common and bottlenose
dolphins,finless and Dall's porpoise and a minke whale. But I
would've expectedto see more," said Libby Eyre, marine biologist
and independentobserver who led the cetacean survey.(2)
"It's clear cetaceans have a great deal to
contendwith in this environment. I'm particularly concerned about
the sheernumber of fishing vessels, traps and nets I've seen here;
concerns thatare shared by scientists around the world," she
Only one minke whale
(/Balaenopteraacutorostrata/) was sighted, even though they are the
most populous ofall the whale species in Korean waters. This lends
support toscientific studies (3) which state that minkes, far from
increasing,have actually continued to decrease in the area since
whaling wasbanned in 1986, due to high levels of 'accidental'
"The only effective conservation strategy
forwhales and dolphins is a total ban on whaling in all its forms.
As afirst step, the government must remove the incentive for
'accidental'whaling by banning the trade in whale meat. It's clear
that, whilethere's a lucrative price paid for dead whales in Korea,
they'llcontinue to be hunted and legally sold on the open market as
by-catch.Unless this trade stops, our minke whales will continue to
be caughtand killed and, like the rare Korean gray whale, will
spiral towardsextinction," said KFEM Chairman, Mr. Yoon.
An average of 100 whales are trapped in
fishingnets in Korea every year, in spite of the authorities
attempts toregulate it. This is higher than every other country in
the world,except Japan. Government statistics for 2003 (4), show
that the numberof 'accidental' catches in countries that trade in
whale meat, such asKorea, are on average over ten times higher than
catches in countriesthat do not trade in whale meat.
"Greenpeace fully supports KFEM's call for
anationwide ban on the trade in whale meat. Banning the trade in
whalemeat would give a clear signal to the world that Korea cares
about itsenvironment, and that it can and will stand firm against
thepro-whaling lobby led by the government of Japan at the upcoming
IWCmeeting in June," said Greenpeace International oceans
Other contacts: Mr. Choi, Ye-Yong, Senior Researcher, KFEM, on +82 (0)16 458 7488 Jim Wickens, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner on +82 (0)10 2233 0760Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International communications, on +82 (0)10 2233 0753Rainbow Warrior satellite phone: +87 324 453 510
Notes: (1)The full written report of the survey will be available before the 57th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting will take place between 27 May and 24 June in Ulsan, south Korea. It will be made available from www.comebackwhales.com(2)Libby Eyre is has been observing whales and dolphins for 20 years. She is a biological sciences museum curator and scientific officer at Macquarie University, Sydney.(3)“Predicted decline of protected whales based on molecular genetic monitoring of Japanese and Korean markets,” C.S.Baker, G.M. Lento, F. Cipriano and S.R. Palumbi (2000), Royal Society of London, Series B. 267:1191-1199. The report states that, even if current by-catch rates of minkes in Korea were reduced by 50%, they would continue to decline.(4)Government by-catch statistics for 2003, submitted to the IWC in 2004.
Exp. contact date: 2006-04-13 00:00:00