UPDATE! 12 July 2012: South Korea has scrapped plans to restart so called scientific whaling.
9 July 2012: Twenty-six years after a global moratorium on commercial whaling was put in place, South Korea’s decision to resume hunting whales for scientific research has dismayed environmental campaigners and stunned other members of the International Whaling Commission.
South Korea’s plans to start a so-called scientific whaling program have been widely condemned by politicians and environmental groups. South Korean delegates confirmed the plan to kill whales in coastal waters at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama this morning, saying they wanted to start hunting minke whales under a loophole that allows the killing of whales for scientific research.
They said fishermen had been calling for the whales to be killed because “an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being.” At the sometimes heated talks, South Korea said it would announce later how many whales it would kill and when, but insisted that it did not need foreign approval.
Whale meat remains highly popular along the east coast of South Korea, which maintained a large whaling fleet based in the southeastern port of Ulsan until the moratorium on commercial whaling was put in place in 1986. Last year, South Korean fishermen accounted for 21 out of the 23 cases of illegal whaling reported to the IWC ::::
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is disappointed by the announcement.
“We are completely opposed to whaling,” Prime Minister Gillard said. “There’s no excuse for scientific whaling, and I have instructed our ambassador in South Korea to raise this matter today at the highest levels of the Korean government. Our ambassador will speak to counterparts in South Korea… and indicate Australia’s opposition to this”.
Greenpeace has branded the plan as “an absolute disgrace” and the Opposition has called for the Government to open urgent talks with South Korea.
In its opening statement to the IWC, South Korea said it would submit its plans to kill whales for “biological and ecological data” to a scientific committee of the global body.
“In order to meet Korean fishermen’s request and make up for the weak point in a non-lethal sighting survey, the Korean government is currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research in accordance with Article VIII of the Convention,” the South Korean statement reads.
It said the plan would be presented in full to the next meeting of the scientific committee.
And in a warning to critics of whaling, the South Korean delegation said: “It is essential that member governments mutually recognise the importance of cultural diversity and heritage of other countries.”
The BBC quoted New Zealand’s delegation head as saying that the plan “bordered on the reckless”.
South Korea said it had data that “the minke whale population in the north Pacific has recovered considerably to the level maintained before the Moratorium. As a result, fishermen in this area are consistently calling for limited whaling,” it said. This is because they are experiencing disturbances in their fishing activities due to frequent occurrences of cetaceans in their fishing grounds and an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being.”
The statement said South Korea whalers caught about 1,000 whales each year before an IWC moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect.
“The long coastal whaling tradition for livelihood and nutritional purposes was suspended in 1986 in compliance with the IWC decision,” the statement said. “At the time, the Korean government had to enforce the whalers to scrap all the whaling vessels completely, promising that they would be able to resume whaling upon the recovery of the resources. With this, the Ulsan community has long been waiting for the IWC to lift the ban for more than a quarter of a century.“
Sea Shephard says “At this point, South Korea has simply served notice of their intent to conduct their so-called scientific research program. They will not be killing any whales directly for at least another year and most likely not for another two years. This gives us adequate time to prepare a strategy to confront them.” The groups website ridicules South Koreas IWC actions “South Korea has their own sly way of killing whales. For years they have allowed Korean fishermen to “harvest” whales caught “accidently” in their fishing nets. As a result the incidents of whales caught accidently in fishing nets has exceeded the number of whales caught in fishing nets throughout the rest of the world.”
UPDATE! 11 July 2012: South Korea has hinted it may bow to international pressure and ditch its plan to resume so-called scientific whaling.
South Korea announced last week it would use a loophole in the global whaling moratorium to resume the killing of whales in its own waters for so-called scientific research. The country said fishermen have been calling for the whales to be killed because they are increasing in numbers and impacting fish stocks.
But today a senior official at South Korea’s Fisheries Ministry said the country may not carry out the plan to resume whaling, if there were non-lethal ways of studying the mammals.
“We may not conduct whaling for scientific research if there is another way to achieve the goal,” Kang Joon-Suk told reporters.
The country’s recent announcement at the International Whaling Commission in Panama sparked an international outcry.
Greenpeace described scientific whaling as “just thinly disguised commercial whaling”, while Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also spoke out strongly against Seoul’s plan.
“We are completely opposed to whaling,” Prime Minister Gillard said at the time. “There’s no excuse for scientific whaling, and I have instructed our ambassador in South Korea to raise this matter today at the highest levels of the Korean government.”
New Zealand and the United States also denounced the plan.
If the nation goes ahead with it’s threat, South Korea would be the fourth country to kill whales, excluding allowances for Indigenous groups. Norway and Iceland openly defy the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, saying they believe stocks are healthy.
Japan already uses the loophole for scientific research, with the meat then going on dinner plates.
UPDATE! 9 July 2012: South Korea has abandoned its plans to start a so-called scientific whaling program.
South Korea sparked an international outcry last week when it unveiled the plan at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Panama.
The Australian Government labelled it unacceptable and ordered Australian diplomats to lodge protests in Seoul.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said he had held talks on whaling with his Korean counterpart Kim Sung-Hwan at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.
“I was very heartened that he indicated to me that plans for scientific whaling, as it’s called, would not proceed,” Senator Carr told PM.
“I told him that was a decision that would be warmly welcomed.
“I said Korea’s committed itself to green growth – it’s capable of becoming a global green super-power – and its green credentials would not be compromised, as they would be if whaling had been pursued.
“I think it’s a very happy outcome and it reflects a lot of credit on the statesmanship and the responsiveness of the Korean leadership.”
Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt says Korea need to make its stance on whaling clearer.
“We’ll reserve our final judgement until it’s crystal clear that there will be no whaling by South Korea,” he said.
“But any progress is good progress and it’s important to be generous not stingy.”
South Korean officials had previously hinted Seoul may bow to international pressure and abandon the plan.
The plan would have used a loophole in the global whaling moratorium to resume the killing of whales in its own waters for so-called scientific research.
South Korea says fishermen have been calling for the whales to be killed because they are increasing in numbers and impacting fish stocks.
Senator Carr says the Korean government was divided over the issue.
“I joked that was very often the case in democratic politics; (that) the views of one arm of the government aren’t those of the government as a whole,” he said.
source: australian network news
source: sea shephard