WHALING WARS Essay Example

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Whaling Wars

Whaling Wars

For many years, many nations had undertaken the whaling industry as a profitable business. There were many whaling fleets that sailed from North America and Europe. The whales were a source of oil, whalebones used for corsets, and the ambergris used for making perfumes from the 18th up to the 20th century. The profitability of whaling was so much that it almost resulted in the extinction of the whales. It is catching how this timeline provides interesting data (Birnie, 2002). It was only later on that the world realized that commercialization of whales would eventually lead to the extinction and decimation of some of these species. Such a realization led to the development of movements to protect these whales. The increase in community interests on the whaling issue has risen over the years, and many countries have opted to support the move of ending or minimizing whaling incidences around the world. However, not all countries are for this, and some insist that they have to stay in business and that there lacks a basis of instituting guidelines for whale protection.

Governments like that of New Zealand and Australia have established their position to protect whales and end the whaling trade. Besides, they have also been supported by conservationists who have been against any form of whaling including the Japanese scientific whaling. As such, the International Whaling Commission was created to establish the quotas and specify the number of whales that can be hunted annually (Francis, 2001). The Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are some of the groups that have been involved in the whaling protests, especially the whale catch by Japanese in the Southern Ocean. Thus, whaling is an issue that affects the common good of preserving an animal species, whales. The Australian government has been supportive in championing for the protection of these species in the Southern Ocean.

1st Perspective: Pro-whaling nations, focusing particularly on Japan

Some countries like Iceland, Norway, Faroes, Japan, and Greenland have continuously claimed the relevance of whaling and indicated it to be one of their cultural practices. Besides, whale meat is one of their traditional diets. Therefore, they resent organizations or countries that are against whaling as they see them interfering with their cultural heritage and practices. Many tribes in these nations have a long standing tradition of whaling by the indigenous individuals. For example, whale hunting has been done by the Iñupiaq for thousands of years (McHendry, 2012). The indigenous people in different regions of the countries have echoed the whaling practice for these practices to be allowed by the International Whaling Commission.

On the same note, the Japanese consider whaling as part of their culture and a major element in their diet. The whale meat is held in high regard in the Japanese culture; therefore, they are not for the idea of limiting or ending whaling activities. Japanese have stood their ground with this ideology and went ahead to reject the whaling memorandum of 1986 brought by the IWC. Other nations with similar interests and beliefs as Japan including Greenland, Iceland, and Norway also objected the whaling ban issued by IWC. The similar ideology of these nations is that they have a traditional link to whaling and cannot do away with a culture that has been in their midst for hundreds of years (Hoek, 2010). Furthermore, the countries supporting whaling claim that the anti-whaling campaigns are based on the western emotional responses and sensibilities and not the scientific findings or respect for social and traditional maintenance. Japan, therefore, has continued their whaling activities in the pretense of engaging in scientific programs.

The response of Japan on banning commercial whaling is on two fronts:

  1. Japan has taken advantages the misunderstanding of the word “ban” and continued their activities on whaling with the claims that they are engaged in scientific whaling. The Southern Ocean whaling activities of the Japanese was characterized by the declaration of a whaling sanctuary in 1994. The sanctuary declaration resulted in disagreements between Japan and other anti-whaling nations like United States, Australia, and Britain.

  2. Japan’s efforts to overturn the ban have continued to be seen in IWC’s meetings. Japan has used measures including bribery to try and influence the votes at the commission to be in their favor.

2nd Perspective: Conservation groups and anti-whaling activists

Conservationists have showed interest in the preservation of whales with a special interest in the survival of the endangered species. Besides, their concern is also on whale cruelty that has been seen in the pro-whaling countries. The conservationist organizations have been engaged in arguing and canvassing of this case. There are many groups including Greenpeace that have been involved in the protection of whales through campaigns and activism (Corkeron, 2009). These groups have gone a step further in finding out what happens to the whale meat and the treatment of whales extensively in the pro-whaling countries like Japan. They discovered that there were increased instances of corruption and illegal buying and selling of whale meat in Japan.

One of the issues that are disputed concerns the number of whales that can be hunted and the particular species of whales that should be allowed for commercial whaling. There are some whale species that are not sufficient for commercialization than others. The need for whale conservation was firmly realized by the establishment of the IWC in 1946 (Veríssimo & Metcalfe, 2012). Whale conservation and management has since then been an issue of concern for this commission and the conservationists. Most of the conservationists insist that it is not only about the number of whales hunted alone but also about the cruelty and pain inflicted on the whales that should not be accepted. Whales are magnificent creatures, have intrinsic significance, and are one of the biggest mammals on earth.

To stop the killing of whales, the conservationists have engaged with the hunting vessels to harass and disrupt their normal whale hunting activities. Other times, they have intercepted the large Japanese hunting vessels by putting their vessel in harm’s way. Some protest campaigns have involved boarding the Japanese vessels even though it is dangerous and illegal. The activists have called on the government of Australia to send their naval ships to the Southern Ocean to deter the hunting expeditions of the Japanese.

3rd Perspective: The Australian Government

An analysis of most of the media reporting indicates that the whole or most of the Australians are anti-whaling and are against the whaling activities of Japan in the Southern Ocean segment of the Australian mainland. Opinion polls have substantiated the views of the Australians concerning the whaling activities south of their mainland. It has been seen that the Australian government has not taken significant steps to stop, or at least prevent the increased whaling activities around the region. The criticism of Japan has increased in Australia, and it is seen that Japanese activities have resulted in the reduction of whales in the Ocean. As a result, Japan is not seen as a friendly neighbor (Gardner, 2004). The Australian government has continued to send representatives to the IWC to support their anti-whaling ideologies and increase the number of activities in the region. The moratorium on whaling was supported by the Australian Government during its establishment and implementations to protect the deteriorating number of whales in the Oceans. Notwithstanding the difference in political affiliation, most of the Australian politicians have come together to support anti-whaling.

Japanese operations have been criticized in the IWC and out in the open. Both the Labor and Liberal governments tried their best in ensuring that Japanese activities are reduced; the citizens have not yet appreciated the efforts of the government and have indicated that it can do better in preventing whaling activities in the region. One of the boldest moves in Australia was that of the Rudd Labor Government who instituted court proceedings against Japans in the ICJ. Despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice in favor of the Australian government to stop the Japanese activities in the Ocean, Japan kept on hunting whales for their pleasure. As a result, there have been diplomatic frictions between Australia and Japan due to the decision of the Australian government to take the matter against Japan to the ICJ.

Principles of human flourishing

Care for creation

The care for creation principle entails restoring wholeness and committing ourselves to vigorously protect creations. The first perspective analyzed is that of the pro-whaling nations like Japan. In this scenario, Japan, and her associates are not fulfilling this principle as they do not care for creation but rather want to uphold their traditional ways of life. Such a scenario creates a care crisis where the party expected to hold up his end of the bargains deviates from the norm and follow his path. As such, the creation, whales, are no cared for but rather are hunted for meat and other commercial purposes (Nishi, 2012). Even though it is expected that all countries come together for the protection of the environment and creation, Japan beats these odds and continue to hunt whales. These degradations indicate a disregard for the creation and existence of whales. In the end, whaling will lead to a reduction and extinction of some of the species of whales on the planet. It is the responsibility of Japan not only to be a technological leader but also to nurture the creatures on earth and in the oceans.

Most of the ecological challenges have a direct effect on humans, usually impacting greatly on the most vulnerable. Many of the problems associated with human justice have their root in the degradation of creations. It is thought that care for creation and social justice are aligned with each other. Human beings need to be equally committed to both aspects because the two elements are intertwined. Thus, articulation of care for creation is accompanied by a commitment to human justice. As such, Japan should follow these steps in ensuring that they achieve common good by not engaging in commercial whaling activities.

Government role

The government has a moral function to uphold. The state should adapt a means of promoting human dignity, rights, and the common good. Thus, the Australian government handles restricting the Japanese from engaging in whaling activities around their region. The Australians have indicated that they require their government to protect the existence of whales by hindering the flourishing of whaling activities in the Southern Ocean (Francis, 2002). Therefore, the Australian government needs to do more to ensure that the whales are protected by the pro-whaling nations who hunt around the Southern Ocean.

The Australian government is tasked with common good preservation including the protection of the human environment as required by the citizens. The state handles defending the rights of the vulnerable and those that cannot speak out for themselves. Thus, the maintenance of the collective good is one of the basic functions of the government. Besides, preservation of whales and prevention of whaling activities cannot be done by individual or small groups; it can only be accomplished by the stronger power of the government. Even though the Australian government has shown support for the banning of whaling activities, it needs to go a step further in ensuring the success of its implementation.

Community participation

Community participation is another principle of human flourishing. The relationship and the bond that exist in a community determine its ability to flourish and achieve some set common goals. Therefore, common good can only be achieved in communities that have group participation and have a strong bond (Curry, 2006). The summation of the social conditions in a community allows the individuals or group to achieve to fulfill their needs and achieve their goals more easily and fully. The good achieved by community participation is common due to the involvement of most of the individuals. Therefore, the anti-whaling and conservation groups have come together to prevent the increase in commercial whaling. These individual are obligated to the protection of the whales.

Moreover, the rights and dignity of all the people are realized through a joint participation towards a common goal. The anti-whaling groups have been tasked with reducing whaling incidences around the Southern Ocean by sabotaging the Japanese ships and vessels. The relationship of the groups with the other Australians has been the backbone of success for the activities of these gropes in preventing the spread of commercial whaling (Curry, 2006). Thus, the responsibility of whale protection has been distributed not only to the anti-whaling groups or activists but also to the wider citizens of Australia, who have played an important role in the steps taken to reduce commercial whaling.


There are three ideologies on the issue of whaling in this contest. The Japanese and other nations supporting whaling would like to continue conducting commercial whaling activities as it is a cultural practice. Conversely, most of the other nations are for these activities citing the mistreatment and possibility of whale extinction in the future. Therefore, the common good in this instance is realized on the basis of supporting the anti-whaling nations (Doby, 2013). A comparison of the anti-whaling and pro-whaling factions indicates that the anti-whaling group is comprised of many countries compared to the pro-whalers. As such, whaling activities should be banned or rather reduced to serve the interest of many people. Even though the banning of whaling may not be practical if done immediately, it will have positive impacts. Alternatively, the reduction of whaling activities can be a short time solution to these problems whereby a limit of the maximum number of whales to be hunted annually is set that. For the achievement of these alternatives, the society should work together in ensuring that all the nations uphold these conditions and values.


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