60-Second Earth

Save the Whales--by Hunting Them?

A new proposal would limit whaling, by permitting small amounts of it. David Biello reports

Whaling has been banned since 1986. And yet the actual number of whales killed each year has been increasing steadily. Japan, Iceland, Norway and indigenous groups hunted and killed at least 17,000 whales over the last decade.  

[audio clip of minke whale song]

That's the song of an Atlantic minke whale —and minkes are often the type of whale in the cross-hairs of Japanese and Scandinavian harpoon ships. Whale meat isn't confined to those countries; a sample showed up in a California sushi restaurant in March.  

But there’s an effort to hold back the rising tide of whaling. A group of countries, including the U.S., has proposed permitting a limited amount of whaling . This would allow for the return of the commercial whaling that Ronald Reagan led the charge to ban. In exchange, whaling countries would accept quotas for the number of whales they could kill . The proposal will be voted on at the end of June.  

Unfortunately, those quotas over the next decade would be exactly the same as the number of whales hunted and killed today for so-called "scientific purposes ." So the plan might slow the steady creep up in whaling. But it wouldn't halt, or even curtail, the current hunt. 

—David Biello

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