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Why commercial whaling should just be found in history books

Posted by Willie Mackenzie - 25th January 2019

Whales are amazing. Yet today they face a growing number of threats from us humans, from plastic pollution to climate change – so the one thing we really don’t need to be doing is killing them for profit.

Commercial whaling was stopped by an internationally agreed moratorium over 30 years ago. That has directly saved the lives of many thousands of whales, some of which were teetering on the brink of extinction when the ban started in the 1980s.

But in that last 30 years other threats have emerged too – climate change, which deprives whales of living space, or food; pollution that poisons their bodies or chokes up their stomachs; and industries that causes noise disturbance, ship strikes and entanglement.

At the same time we have also learned just how important whales are to healthy oceans, and how important healthy oceans are to the planet, and all of us. Put simply, we’ve been treating the oceans like an endless buffet and limitless dumping ground, and we need to stop. That’s why Greenpeace is working across the world to tackle destructive fishing, climate change, and ocean plastics, as well as create huge ocean sanctuaries where our awesome and essential marine life can survive and thrive.

So it’s frustrating to still have to be talking about commercial whaling. On December 26th 2018, the Government of Japan made an announcement: it was to leave the International Whaling Commission, stop its ‘research’ whaling in the Southern Ocean, and restart commercial whaling in its own seas.

Commercial whaling belongs in the past, as already it does for almost every nation on Earth, including the UK. There’s simply no need for it in the modern world, and it’s the one threat to whales we can, and should, stop immediately.

Greenpeace is against commercial whaling, and always has been – it has only ever led to the overexploitation of these animals at the expense of our oceans.

We work closely with other organisations in the UK and across the world to try and make sure whales are valued more alive than dead. So we are glad to see continued strong opposition from the UK government, and the EU to the announcement from the Government of Japan.

And we’re glad to see peaceful demonstrations from the UK to the Japanese Government to let them know how we feel. That’s why we are encouraging people to sign up here to send a message to the Japanese Embassy in the UK.

Now is not the time to walk away from international efforts on conserving our oceans for generations to come, it’s the time to work together to protect them.