A whale of a deal

In a miraculous turn of events, Australia and Japan have called a truce at the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting, this year in Santiago, Chile.

The two countries have joined a small working group that will work to bridge the whaling gap.

Japan has volunteered not to hunt humpies in the Southern Ocean this summer (that would be winter to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Australia agreed, in turn, not to pursue international legal action in the hopes of reaching an international agreement on how to handle research whale takes.

It’s no surprise that the Aussie government is now under full attack from some environmental groups.

I’m no gung-ho advocate for whale hunting. But I believe that strong-arm politics are rarely effective and thus must be used in moderation. What’s the point of making whaling illegal if those who still want to hunt whales can just call it a scientific sampling? Effectively, it’s not illegal.

For every controversial issue, there’s at least one group whose life’s work is to fight tooth and nail for each side. But at some point, we must put down the harpoons, get out of the Zodiacs and sit down at the table.

Will Greenpeace ever be able to abide any whale hunting? That’s doubtful. But maybe, just maybe, opposing political factions can figure out a more reasonable system to allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to partake in a limited whale fishery that does not threaten the species and reduces illegal takes.

At least the IWC is moving in that direction.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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