Japanese and whaling

That is the basic disagreement and the major argument you will get from people that wish to save the whales vs. people who don’t care.
If you support saving the whales, you generally do not consider a whale like a cow or a pig. There are several reasons.

  1. Many consider whales to be highly intelligent and wish to study whales rather than hunt them.
  2. Many just marvel at how majestic they are and wish to save them.
  3. Very many people do not compare relatively rare Whales to farm raised meat animals.
  4. Some people believe no animals should be hunted.
  5. Some people believe no animal should be eaten.
    I personally fall into the first three categories. So that is why on Earth, I would not want to see whaling continue.


This is a slight hijack, but it seems unfair to me that “majesticness” is a reason for not hunting them. Essentially all you’re saying is “Don’t hunt the whales, I like looking at them”; I don’t see why people shouldn’t hunt whales because it would injure your aesthetic pleasure.

(Your other reasons I have no bone to pick with).

That is the least logical reason I have seen, but I am guilty of it. It is similar to the person who says, “But how can you eat Bambi”.
I admit to it not being rational and I can at least claim it is not my primary reason. However I have heard other express this sentiment and I have been involved with environmental groups since 1989.


I’m not sure which applies to swimming mammals.

They do not have cloven hooves and do not chew cud;
They have neither gills nor scales.


Fair enough. As long as you agree it isn’t really a rational argument, I don’t disagree.

Crockpotted with bay leaf, onion and garlic.

I live in Japan for two years. The interesting thing is that it is not a big issue in Japan. I tried to get some debates going. It did not work. Most Japanese do not see what the fuss is all about.

Meaning they see no reason to stop whaling, or they don’t care whether they stop whaling or continue?

That is the tricky question. It seems that many just think if there are enough whales, then whales can be killed like any other animal.
Many have not ever even considered the issue once.
Many just do not care.

Imagine if someone came to America and said “It is terrible how everyone cuts the grass here. It is so cruel”. And that person tried to make an issue out of it. Most Americans would just think it is just grass. Who cares if it is cut? Keeps the yard tidy.

That is the kind of analogy I would make to show that whale hunting criticism is as big an issue in Japan as grass cutting criticism is in America.

Throwing whalemeat to the dogs is blasphemy in my cookbook. It is not only delicious but also a great meat for many gastronomic occasions. It can be very dry if you overcook it. On the other hand, I remember from when I was a kid, I thought it tasted like liver, but then again I guess my mum overcooked the meat when she made a stew out of it, in the same manner as she would cook liver. I never liked liverstew. Whale meat used to be cheap food when I was a kid, today you hardly find it in the grocery store, but have to go to the delicacy stores and pay a fortune for it. The best way to get it is to get it directly from the whaleboats.

Now, as to why do Norway catch whale? I dont know, maybe it is out of principle, just like we keep gubernatiorial domain over Spitsbergen, just like we vote against becoming a member of the EU every second decade. I think most norwegians dont think much about or even know much about the whale catching, because we dont see the results (as in the meat going to expensive delicacies and restaurants). Statistically there is a quota of around 700 minky whales each year for commercial cathing, out of a stock of around 130 000 animals. This is hardly much to make a fuss about.

Discounting the desires of the right wingers, I see. Grasshopper, you still have much to learn. :smiley:

I think this is a valid reason, particularly if many people are saying it. Tourism is a huge source of income in many places. In many places, I’d imagine that a city/state/country might make less money off of whaling than they would make from tourism.

Many people travel and spends big bucks to watch majestic creatures. Tourism pumps a lot of money into a local economy (extra business for tour operators, hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc, etc…).

Whale watching is big:

Is there any study on comparative Whale intelligence? Any evidence that the whale species are more intelligent than pigs or cows?

Yes, there have been and currently are studies. The Studies are more on the smaller Cetaceans, dolphins rather than the larger whales.
The cognition appears to vary from species to species.
Dolphin Self-Recognition Mirrors Our Own
LINKS & RESOURCES Research, Education & Conservation
You will have to read conflicting reports and make your own judgment.


I’m well aware of the Dolphin studies (and some similar Whales like the Killer Whale), just not of and ‘food’ Whales studies. Since they quite are different species it seems a bit of a jump to claim Whales are more inteligent than pigs because Dolphins are more intelligent than pigs.
Personally I am against the killing of any animal which is of such a small world wide population as are the huted whales. But I believe population numbers are the key issue and that inteligence of whales is not well shown. I also believe inteliigence of whales should be researched, but wouldn’t be surprised if some show less cognition than some species of cephalopod. Cephalopd Intelligence link .

Killer Whales (Orcas) are classified as Dolphins and not Whales for the record.
Humpbacks are studied, I am not an expert so I cannot speak to what other whales are studied.


Like others have said, the “research” is just a dodge, and a particularly transparent one at that. They don’t even hunt the minke whales in their territorial waters, because those are now considered endangered, but go halfway around the globe to take whales from a related sub-species.

The usual reasons given are typically BS, as per the norm for the Japanese government. It’s like the way they used to use the excuse of “inspections” as a way of informally impounding food shipments that they didn’t want to import because then it would compete with domestic products. The claims related to the history of whaling in Japan are particularly dumb since Japan’s whaling history is much shorter than that of most other countries currently still whaling.

The real reasons for its continuing are probably related to rightist influence and lobby groups. Also, it’s a nice cheap way to assert themselves against the West. The only harm they’ll take is bad press on a non-vital issue.

I’ve had whale a couple of times. I didn’t like it much. It’s kind of greasy. Horse is better.

The objections I have to whaling are:
[li]You don’t seriously need them for food or any other purpose anymore and obviously there’s not much in the way of demand.[/li][li]They are pretty intelligent and we could stand to learn a lot more about them. We’ve already caused extinctions of some species and we sometimes don’t know for sure what “sustainable” is for the ones remaining.[/li][li]Marine exploitation is proving to be a lot less sustainable than we thought. A lot of species of fish are already off the menu for the foreseeable future and many more are expected to be added to that list. Almost all fish breed a heck of a lot more prolifically and mature a lot more quickly than whales do.[/li][li]Marine biology is still a big fat mystery for the most part. We have no idea how badly we’re screwing things up with even easily tracked macro species like whales, and we don’t know how intrinsic they are to the system.[/li][li]Most of the time you could get a lot more out of exploiting them for tourism, which would still affect them but would probably be a lot more sustainable.[/li][/ol]

The difference between domestic animals and hunted ones is pretty big. Most of the species we haven’t domesticated are still wild for good reasons. We’re not going to be herding whales anytime soon and we’re definitely not very likely to be able to breed them in zoos. If we screw up, they’re gone for good. Land mammals are a lot more easily studied than marine mammals and we still screw up there. I don’t like the idea of guessing wrong in this case.

On a political note, a country signing a treaty that prohibits whaling and then uses a loophole to excuse their behavior is particularly unsavory.

I agree with most of your reasons, but what treaty exactly are you referring to?
The debate around whaling is tends to focus on the actions and deliberations of the International Whaling Comission, which exists to implement this convention intended to ensure

The whole ‘research’ thing is a transparent dodge round the moratorium, but then trying to establish a permanent ban on any whaling, ever, is also absolutely at odds with the treaty and the supposed purpose of the IWC. The current state of affairs is absolutely guaranteed to cause policy paralysis and endless infighting. If members of PETA joined the Beef Cattlemens Association in order to push through a permanent ban on the killing of bovines, you’d get pretty much the same situation.

Personally, I’m against whaling for a couple of real reasons:
I live in a whale-tourism area, and I’ve seen the immense positive effects whale-watching has had on the economy of coastal towns over the last ten years. Whale Month in the town of Hermanus draws thousands of people from around the globe, who also spend money on our wine farms and game parks, at our hotels and restaurants. The knock-on effects are huge. And it’s local benefiting, not corporations. Now, it can be argued that sustainable harvesting is still compatible with tourism, but see my next point.
I don’t believe we know enough about whale populations to really say what sustainable levels are, nor do I trust the Japanese “research” to supply that data. I therefore don’t believe we can say that renewed commercial whaling will be sustainable, and mean it with any level of confidence. Also, I don’t trust the Japanese to stick to their quotas. The existence of illegal whaling vessels and rogue fishing trawlers already shows that whalers and fishing companies can’t be trusted to stick to agreements.

Plus I just love looking at the buggers (Southern Rights, in my case), and knowing that they are out there, and safe. Lest I be accused about being all touchy-feely, I feel the same about the Great White shark, which also has an international ban, BTW.

We had the argument on the merits whaling here a few years ago, where someone threw out some very impressive stats on why reasonablely large numbers of minkes can be killed and not come close to being endangered. Changed my mind on minke whaling.

Someone will end up bombing an embassy, and then they’ll notice the fuss.

Not a course of action I advocate, I hasten to add.