Korea abandons plan to hunt endangered whales
An official circular issued by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) this week announced that the government of Korea “had changed its position regarding its initial plan on scientific whaling and would instead undertake research using non-lethal methods.”
The Republic of Korea announced in June 2012 its plans to kill endangered whales under a loophole in the whaling treaty that allows for so-called ‘scientific’ whaling. The proposal was met with fierce opposition from numerous IWC member governments that called the hunt unnecessary given the availability of modern non-lethal research techniques.
Korea’s previous plans involved the hunting of an endangered stock of minke whales, which would have sent a dangerous signal that even the most threatened of whales are fair game for exploitation.
“WWF congratulates the Republic of Korea for reversing its decision to hunt endangered minke whales for scientific purposes,” said Wendy Elliott, Species Manager for WWF International. “We hope that this positive move is a step towards strengthened conservation of whales in Korean waters.”
Japan is the only country that continues to kill whales for purportedly ‘scientific’ purposes, with meat going straight to sale in the Japanese market. The Japanese hunt includes takes of whales in the Southern Ocean, a legally-defined sanctuary where whale hunting is prohibited.
“Killing whales in the name of ‘science’ is entirely unnecessary in the 21st century, when non-lethal research provides all necessary information effectively,” Elliott said. “Korea’s decision means that Japan is the only country left to continue this outdated practice. We hope this is a wake-up call that now is the time to end Japanese scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean for good.”