25 April 2010

Let them eat whale

If they have no meat let them eat whale.

I don't have a particular interest to try whale meat myself.  But lots of people like it. It's part of a traditional diet in many native communities and East Asia. I don't think western tastes should be imposed on these communities.

Whale hunting has been badly mismanaged by humans who have hunted many species to near extinction.  It is good that there's a ban on hunting blue and other endangered whales and that more responsibility is now shown for managing whale numbers.  The environmental movement should receive their due credit for their role in this.  "To hunt a species to extinction is illogical." - Spock.


But a total whaling ban takes it too far.  Activism becomes dogma and religion when whaling is banned at all costs including to the whales themselves.  The Wiki page on whaling explains that a lot of people support a ban on whaling because they believe it is immoral regardless of whether populations can support hunting.  I disagree.

The Japanese and Norwegians wish to hunt minke whale.  That's a medium size whale with a healthy population that competes with the endangered blue whale for food resources.  If the population can support hunting let them be hunted.

Presently whaling for meat is supposed to be illegal. But a sort of loophole exists where a limited hunt for a few hundred minke whales each year takes place under the guise of scientific research.

Japan whaling:

We know it's a farce because if it was really for scientific research the meat wouldn't be allowed to be sold for human consumption.  Instead of continuing the charade let's let it take place above board rather than pretend it is for science.  By having everything out in the open it might actually lead to more honest reporting of hunting and better management.

Blue whales were hunted from 150,000 in number to just a few hundred before the ban.  At the same time the smaller minke whales weren't as popular for hunters and their numbers ballooned to 10 times what they were before blue whales were hunted.   Current estimates for minke whale population is about 1.5 million individuals.  Minke whales compete with blue whales for the food krill.  By allowing whale hunting again it could help to bring back the blue whales.

There's nothing wrong with humans managing natural populations of animals.  It is not unnatural for humans to kill or cull animals.  Humans have been wiping out species and managing wild populations for millennia.  Some of the megafauna that humans wiped out could be very destructive to people and property if they were still around today. From the point of view of the day-to-day living of humans the extinction of many of these species is not at all unwelcome.

Environmentalists such as the Pew Environment Group try to spin the story of the overabundance of minke whales not impacting on the recovery of blue whale species.  Environmentalists don't really care about the environment but the feel good factor and imposing their ideological agenda.  Wind mills are a good example.

They kill birds and are wasteful of resources and don't even provide reliable power.  The ban of minke whaling is another example.  Large whales like the blue whale are negatively impacted by the ban on commercial minke whaling.  But it's not about the logical management of whale populations to enviro-activists but imposing the idea that all whaling is morally wrong regardless of the actual impact to the various whales and the environment. It's a matter of ideology, not the environment.

Meat eaters: why feel sorry for a whale but not the other animals that you eat?

The latest twist from the global warming/climate change/save the whales crew is that whale poo is crucial to sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Whale poop is vital to ocean's carbon cycle

And modern AGW theory is that CO2 is a danger so we need to be scared if CO2 goes up.  But nature takes care of how much CO2 is in air.  Our contributions are puny.  We do need life to manage the carbon cycle and whales play their part. But so does everything.  It is reasonable to extract some resources.

In high school I was indoctrinated to believe that the ecosystem was a fragile thing and that if one imbalance is brought in or one species goes extinct the whole thing falls apart.  Now that I've been able to unindoctrinate myself I realise that the ecosystem is not fragile but that life is actually the most robust thing going on this planet. Five major extinctions and it's still here going as strong as ever.  Maybe not in quite the same form, but in some form.  Who's to say what the correct form of life is and what isn't?  Who's to say what the right temperature is?  Who's to say what the right level of CO2 is?  We don't know.

When one species dies others moves in to fill the gap.  And new species evolve rapidly to fill the niche in the ecosystem vacated by the last one.  Let's face it most species are redundant.  Take birds.  If I was to take a half hour walk in my neighbourhood I could probably count 20 species of birds.  A lot of them are similar shapes and sizes.

Magpies: they swoop you and I don't really care for them that much:

Crows look about the same to me and don't swoop you:

My guess is that if the magpies were wiped out their role in the ecosystem would be filled by crows and similar birds.  There's a lot of redundancy.

Most of the species that ever existed are gone and it's a good thing.  Small creatures like humans would not have been able to exist if the dinosaurs hadn't have gone extinct.  Hooray for dinosaur extinction!  Species extinction allows for other animals to evolve in their place.

I love life on planet Earth and it would be nice if the human population didn't encroach so much on natural habitats.  I don't want to see species die, except the Australian magpie which is my cursed enemy.   Seriously though, who wouldn't want the fun of a magpie swoop?  It's part of being Australian.  But, I'm not going to freak if some of these species go extinct either.

So, I think the hunt for whales should be based on science, not morals which change from person to person based on their ideology.   Whales are no more or less special than other meat we eat.  If minke whale numbers can support a hunt then let us hunt, eat and be merry.

I think some of the dancing and customs and beliefs of various people around the world are weird.  I think eating whale meat is weird.  Yet I don't feel the need to impose my morals, customs or beliefs on others.  It would be a very boring world if everyone was like me.

P.S. I cringe when I hear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd threatening the Japanese with taking them to court over whaling.  The Japanese have come a long way in their attitude to whaling. They'll never give it up but this isn't the 1800's any more Kev. Let's be pragmatic and flexible.  What do you care about the whales anyway?  Another populist move from the populist PM.


  1. i couldnt agree more extinction is natural and it's in our nature to destroy everything that we thing is edible. if you care about whales and other animals then dont eat meat and stop polluting (that means no cars and tv and such) see how long you last!!

    1. We would last a bloody long time if we hadnt all gone soft and lost all discipline and become so lazy we rely on tv to enrich our lives ...sad really !....... Eat meat yes !, but do it humanely (we are surposed to be the intelligent species ????) Disagree with wiping out species (humans downfall = arrogance!!!)We forget that the planet offers not just food, but we can learn a lot from animals and nature ...more reason not to destroy!!

  2. It's not only our nature to destroy our animal resources but all of good mother earth's natural resources, From trees, running animals out of their natural habitat to the oceans, etc. If our livestock was going down in numbers we would choose the best livestock we had and breed them where when the whales are gone they are gone. Another is the cruelty of it. Do you actually know how they are killed? They're harpooned then shot with a gun repeatedly in head and wait for it to bleed to death taking 20 to 30 minutes while screaming. Then they transport it to a processing ship. Look at the picture with the mother and calf being hoisted up into the processing ship. Is this "RESEARCH" or WHALING? How much meat are they going to get off of that little guy, oh I forgot it's "research"! There are other whales that they are hunting beside the Minke that are endangered. GO SEA SHEPHERD!!!!