Scientific Research or Illegal Operation?
Scientists used genetic analyses to connect meat from sushi restaurants in the United States and South Korea to whales captured under the Japanese whaling program. According to the scientists, the Japanese engaged in illegal trade of endangered species.
Although an international moratorium prohibiting commercial whaling was established in 1986, an exception enabled Japan to slaughter hundreds of whales per year for the purposes of “scientific research”. Using the disguise of “scientific research”, the Japanese captured whales that were in danger of extinction and then sold the whale meat on the world market.
This month, the United States Delegation to the International Whaling Commission considers whether to permit commercial whaling quotas in Japan, Iceland, and Norway. Wendy Elliott from the World Wildlife Fund explains: “Essentially what the compromise would do is allow commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean. This is a designated whale sanctuary, it’s one of the key places in the world for whales – if there is one place on earth where whales should be protected it is there.”
Environmental sociologists should encourage the International Whaling Commission to strengthen the international moratorium on commercial whaling and to reject commercial whaling quotas. Environmental sociologists also should collaborate with organizations, such as Greenpeace, that are actively combating the proposal on commercial whaling quotas.
The Oscar award-winning documentary, The Cove, exposed the Japanese fishing industry for herding dolphins into a hidden cove, slaughtering the dolphins using spears and knives, and then selling the dolphin meat on the world market. Interestingly, the fishing industry sold the dolphin meat as counterfeit whale meat from larger whales in order to make higher profits.
The Cove illustrates that the Japanese engage in illegal fishing operations in order to generate profits on the world market. Environmental sociologists might raise the question: Is the scientific research mentioned above a cover for an illegal, environmentally unsound, and financially profitable operation?