Opinion Former Article

IFAW: Korea announces plans to harpoon whales for ‘science'

At the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama yesterday, the Republic of Korea unexpectedly signalled its intention to begin so-called scientific whaling.

The announcement, at the 64th meeting of the IWC in Panama City, came despite failures by Japan and Iceland to find successful markets for the meat from their own scientific whaling or to produce scientific findings of any value from killing whales.

Korea has not hunted whales since 1986, but each year there is a substantial bycatch of whales in Korean waters.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) believes scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name and opposes all commercial whaling as inherently cruel, unnecessary and unsustainable.

The afternoon before announcing its intention to begin harpooning whales in the north Pacific, Korea had told other delegates at the week long conference of its plans to build capacity for whale watching in the Ulsan region.

IFAW promotes responsible whale watching as the only sustainable ‘use’ of whales and encourages Korea to abandon its whaling plans and protect its whales for future generations to enjoy.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whales Programme, said: “This is the sort of surprising announcement and backward step one would not expect from South Korea, which has recently taken important steps against illegal whaling. If pursued, this plan will lead to whales from a depleted stock being cruelly slaughtered for no purpose when they already face more threats than ever before. We strongly urge Korea to abandon this plan now.

“There is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for people.”

Korea’s announcement follows another blow for whale conservation earlier in the week when Japan and the rest of the pro-whaling bloc at IWC voted against proposals for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. The sanctuary would have provided much-needed protection to whales in the region.

Ends

Notes to Editors –

For more information or to arrange interviews with IFAW’s team at IWC please contact Clare Sterling in Panama on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org.

IFAW’s team in Panama is providing regular video blogs from the meeting. To view blogs and keep up with the latest updates visit www.ifaw.org and for whales images register with www.ifawimages.com

This year’s meeting of the IWC is historic in several ways – it is 30 years since the adoption of the moratorium on commercial whaling and 25 years since Japan’s ‘scientific whaling’ programme began. It is likely to be the last time that delegates meet for a full annual meeting before moving to biennial meetings.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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