ECN publication
Iconic CO2, time series at risk, Science
Houweling, S.; Vermeulen, A.T.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Environment & Energy Engineering 30-8-2012
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-W--12-037 Article (scientific)
Number of pages:

Published in: Science (), , Augustus 2012, Vol.volume 337, p.1038-1040.

AT THE RECENT INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION’S ANNUAL meeting in Panama, South Korean offi cials announced their plan to initiate a “scientifi c whaling” program (1). This announcement came as a surprise given the general sentiment that the global demand for whale meat is declining. After weeks of international outcry, on 17 July, South Korea reversed their decision to hunt whales for research, but the issue is not dead (2). South Korea claimed that the goal of the scientifi c whaling program is to study the types and amounts of fi sh whales eat, given confl ict with fi sheries. Yet, it is well established in the scientifi c literature that there are many ways to study whale diet without killing them (3). Decades of fruitless negotiation between pro- and anti-whaling nations suggests a broken system, wrought with loopholes that allow unsustainable whaling to continue. Within this broken system, there is no incentive to reduce whaling, as the recent announcement by South Korea shows. Whaling groups are unwilling to compromise by allowing a sustainable harvest of whales, so unsustainable (scientifi c) whaling continues. To ensure a future of both whales and whalers, we must harness the passion and value that people place on living whales, without telling people what to do or force one set of values on others. We need novel, out-of-the-box approaches to effective management and conservation of whales. We must compromise to ensure reductions in whales being killed, better oversight of countries that harvest them, and limited whaling that does not threaten the persistence of whales. For those who believe that whaling is unethical, I challenge you to put forward alternative ideas to a global moratorium that fosters the “loophole” of scientifi c whaling. With new plans to develop scientifi c whaling programs (4), the current global moratorium is clearly broken. Scientists, conservation advocates, resource managers, and the public must work together to develop new approaches to ensure the persistence of whales in our oceans.

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