Humpback comeback: time to sharpen the harpoon?
But will the celebrations turn sour, for many people, if whaling nations use the news to justify sharpening their harpoons?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature put out a report today showing that the humpback was off the main endangered list, along with some other species including the southern right whale and the minke whale — it said that stocks were recovering, helped by a 1986 moratorium on all hunts. Many other types of whale, porpoise and dolphin were still in trouble.
But is the report bad news in disguise for whales?
Greenland, for instance, lobbied in vain June to add 10 humpbacks — a whale famed for its spectacular leaps (see the picture above) — to its annual quota of other species caught in an aboriginal hunt. Anti-whaling nations voted “No” at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission, arguing stocks were too small.
Can anti-whalers make that same argument next year?
And Japan this year dropped a plan to hunt 50 humpback whales after international criticism. Will that criticism still be fair if Japan targets humpbacks (perhaps even the famed white whale “Migaloo” off Australia) next year?
Whaling nations, mainly Japan, Norway and Iceland, argue they should be allowed to hunt whales when there are enough in the seas. Norway targets about 1,000 minke whales a year, and says there are at least 100,000 in the north-east Atlantic.
So should there be hunts or a ban?