Saturday, June 17, 2006

Whales are safe for another day

Japan Fails in Latest Bid to Undermine Global Ban on Whaling:
Japan lost two crucial votes Friday at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission, calming fears it might have finally won a majority at the body and could begin to chip away at the two-decade-old global ban on whaling.

Japan's proposal to bring in secret ballots so that small Pacific and Caribbean countries could back its pro-whaling stance without criticism from environmentalists was defeated by a vote of 33 to 30, with one abstention.

Earlier, Japan and other pro-whaling countries failed to stop the group from discussing the fate of dolphins, porpoises and small whales, which are not covered by the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling but which conservationists say are as threatened as the great whales.

The 32 to 30 vote against a proposal to remove small cetaceans from the IWC's agenda at the gathering on this Caribbean island state was seen as a bellwether of the balance of power at the agency.
The whaling ban has been instrumental in preventing these species from going extinct en masse. As it is, their populations are badly degraded by the legacy of whaling, and their extremely low reproductive rate means that recovery will be very, very slow. I'm sure whale tastes great and is less filling, but it isn't worth it.

Whales are very smart animals, with complex and elaborate social systems and cultural differences between populations, and the massive loss that whaling induced on those populations has strained not just the genetic structure of the whale population, but the cultural structure. And neither will repair quickly.