Home > Japan, The Environment, Whaling > They Can Add Calf Killers to Their Resume

They Can Add Calf Killers to Their Resume

In the Saturday, February 9th, 2008 online edition of the Japan Times, C. W. Nicol wrote an op-ed entitled, “Killing Calves Makes Japan’s Whaling Indefensible,” which dots Japan’s whaling resume with another marker of blood. The interesting thing about his position is that he used to be a supporter of whaling, as he says here,

In the past, I have made myself pretty unpopular abroad in speaking out in defense of Japan taking whales for food, as long as the whalers abided by a scientific quota and observed IWC rules.

But with obvious astonishment at recent events he seems to have changed his opinion.

The sight of a dead whale doesn’t shock me because I’ve seen thousands. However, to see obvious and irrefutable evidence that Japanese whalers had crossed the line to killing calves, and probably a mother and calf, was too much.

He describes, with great detail, his experiences with the Japanese whaling industry. He is very knowledgeable on this subject. Not only has he seen Japanese whaling practices up close but also the whaling practices of other cultures,

Having lived with Inuit hunters in Canada, I could see nothing wrong in taking marine mammals for food. In the Antarctic especially, there were plentiful minke whales, thousands of them, and in no way could the species be called endangered.

I gather, he feels quite strongly about the recent events within the Japanese whaling community to be writing such an article.

In a previous post entitled, “Letter to the Japanese Whaling Association,” which I actually sent, via-email, to the Japan Whaling Association, I outlined why whale hunting should be discontinued in Japan. For Japan, I gather it is less about a viable food source, and more about ego. No one likes being told what to do. But sometimes, a nation and culture must look at itself and ask, “Is this really necessary?” Hopefully they come to a ‘right’ answer.

I just want to mention, I’m not 100% opposed to whale hunting (whether that matters or not). And I actually make my home in Japan. I take part in local community events and support Japan on many fronts. I just don’t support Japan on this front.

Nicol, even though he comes down on the side of the anti-whaling group still supports a small regional hunt for cultural purposes, which I can agree as well,

Perhaps one answer would be to preserve the tradition and skills of whaling by a very limited, well-observed and controlled coastal hunt. That is a decision Japan must make for itself.

My major issue with all this is the open lie. I would have more respect for the Japanese on this issue, if they would just admit, 100%, that they want to kill whales for food, and want to make money from it. I hate smokescreens and lies in situations like this. In the guise of scientific research they will kill 1,000 whales this year (including a scheduled 50 Humpback Whales – considered by some to be as intelligent a species as we’ve ever observed). If they want to see how far we can push a species to extinction without actually making them extinct then they are doing a good job. Or if they want to see how to bring a species back from possible extinction, then they are on the right track. I gather though, those are not the goals of the Japanese scientific community. Just say, “We want to kill whales for food and money.” So much easier to defend yourself that way.

I’m not a whale expert, but one responded to my first whaling article (thank you), and after doing some extra research of my own, I was even more hardened towards whale hunting in this context. Finally, C. W. Nicol states,

However, with this new lack of judgment in taking a minke calf, which no boatswain directing the movements of the ship from the crow’s nest, and certainly no harpooner worth his salt could mistake for an adult, I feel I can no longer justify further support for Japan’s Antarctic whaling. By the way, I am British-born, but a citizen of Japan.

“With rising fuel costs, with tons of frozen whale meat stored unused in warehouses, and with anger at home and abroad with Japan’s Antarctic whaling now so intense,” I just hope someday the Japanese Whaling community listens to its “longtime friend(s)” and curtails its whaling operations.

  1. February 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I agree with you. I think the Japanese might gain some respect if they did admit the science is not the main priority.

    They might get even more respect if they gave up altogether and paid off the whalers, but I cannot see that happening just now.

    I’d be very interested to see how many scientific papers they publish to justify all that killing they do, and compare it with the number of papers other countries produce. Anyone got any figures ?

  2. February 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Dear Jonallen1966,

    For information about Japanese whaling check out the Japan Whaling Association website – http://www.whaling.jp/english/ – This is the English version, but it is pretty good. You can find a link to the Japanese version, which might give you more information (as they usually do).

    The researcher, Robert Payne, had some interesting commentary regarding whale research. I remember one thing he said, I paraphrase, “There are more benign ways of researching whales that yield more productive results, faster, and there is no killing involved…my institute developed some of them.” You can check him out here – http://www.oceanalliance.org/oceanalliance/oa_rogerpayne.html.

    I just hope, some day, the Japanese, and other whale hunting societies, stop what they are doing.

    Thanks for the commentary.


  3. emolleyCynC
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