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The Effects of Whaling and the Ecology

In: Social Issues

Submitted By thearrowlives
Words 2121
Pages 9
Dr. Charles Brooks
EPS 202 - 104
30, April 2013
The Effects of Whaling and the Ecology Whaling is one of the oldest human activity for hunting done by man since the beginning of time. Whaling can come with a cost, and result with a set of consequences that can affect the ecology and the world. The consequences of whaling can not only endanger and extinct whales, but destroy and kill the oceans that can eventually kill all life.
Whaling is the hunting of whales primarily for meat and oil. It is believed that whaling dates back to a millenia. According to Encyclopedia, “whaling for subsistence dates to prehistoric times. The early people of Korea were hunting whales as far back as 5000 B.C., and those of Norway began whaling at least 4,000 years ago. Various peoples of the NW North American coast and the Arctic have a long tradition of whaling. Whaling, done from canoes or skin boats, often when migrating pods of whales passed nearby, was a very dangerous undertaking. Over time, many, such as the Qwidicca-atx (Makah) people of the Olympic peninsula, developed set spiritual and hunting practices that became the core of their culture.”
The origins of commercial whaling started according to online encyclopedia
“The hunting of whales is thought to have been pursued by the Basques from land as early as the 10th cent. and in Newfoundland waters by the 14th cent. It is not until the middle of the 16th cent., however, that the appearance of Basques in those waters is established by record. Whaling on a large scale was first organized at Spitsbergen at the beginning of the 17th cent., largely by the Dutch who, with the Basques, apparently developed methods of flensing and boiling. The Dutch were at first in competition with the English Muscovy Company of London, but before its collapse in 1625 they had gained ascendancy; in 1623 they established the port of Smeerenberg. Large profits continued only until c.1640, when the scarcity of whales forced the Dutch farther out into the northern waters in search of them.
By the middle of the 17th cent. whaling from the land was established in America. The earliest type, called drift whaling, consisted of harvesting whales that had washed up on the shore, mainly after storms. Drift whaling became economically important in Colonial America, and the first laws regarding it were written at Southampton, Long Island, in the 1640s. This practice was followed by shore whaling, in which whales swimming close to shore were hunted. Whaling centers, at first on Long Island and Cape Cod, shifted to Nantucket and then New Bedford, Mass., the greatest whaling port in the world until the decline (c.1860) of the industry. With the capture (1712) of a sperm whale by a Nantucket whaler, the superior qualities of sperm oil were discovered, and American whalers began fishing farther south in search of the sperm whale, which superseded the right whale in value.
American fisheries were set back by the American Revolution, but in 1791 the first Americans rounded Cape Horn to hunt in the S Pacific. Another, but temporary, setback occurred in the War of 1812, but the outcome spelled the complete defeat of British whaling. From c.1815 until shortly before the Civil War, the period widely known as the golden age of U.S. whaling, Americans sailed the Pacific from south to north, on voyages often lasting as long as three or four years, in search of whales. Melville's Moby-Dick gives an account of a voyage in this period. The advent of the Civil War, a decrease in the demand for sperm oil and in the number of whales, and the discovery (1859) of oil in Pennsylvania brought on the decline of the industry.”

Modern whaling can be depicted and inaugurated by the creation of a harpoon containing an explosive head by Norwegian Sven Foyn in 1856 ( According to the same source, this type of harpoon would ensure the whale’s immediate death and was eventually modified to shoot compressed air into the whale so it would not sink before it was able to be secured. The development of a factory ship was also a mark of modern whaling. The purpose of a whaling factory ship is to completely process the whales caught by harpoon vessels and would enhance their ability to process larger whales and all its parts as prior to factory ships only the blubber and head could be procured and in addition harvesting or “flensing” the whale from the side of the ship was hazardous (

There have been attempts to regulate and protect whales since 1932-33. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established in 1946 by 15 states. Their mission was to, “stop the over exploitation of certain whale species and to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of whaling industry” (
Greenpeace is an international organization (activists) that promotes environmental awareness and addresses environmental abuse through direct, non-violent confrontations with government and companies ( Greenpeace in the 80s made efforts to stop and ban commercial whaling. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) also known as “The Sea Sheperds” established in 1977 are an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization.
Captain Paul Watson formerly of Greenpeace and founder of The Sea Sheperds has viewed anti-whaling efforts prior to founding The Sea Sheperds as “submissive” since with Greenpeace tactics for anti-whaling was protesting and in his view he feels that protesting does not solve problems. “I was tired of protesting. I'm actually totally opposed to protesting. It's sort of like "please, please don't kill the whales." You know? That wasn't getting us anywhere. Well, the thing that I'm most satisfied with is that since leaving Greenpeace, since '77, I haven't seen a whale die … I think that protesting, coming from a sort of submissive position, it's always begging people to not do anything. What we do in Sea Shepherd is oppose illegal operations. You don't beg criminals to stop what they're doing; you intervene. You physically, and aggressively, shut them down. That's what we do” (Animal Planet).
IWC has updated its views in recent years. “In 2003 the IWC voted to expand its main functions to include whale conservation. The Indian Ocean and the ocean waters off Mexico, a number of South Pacific island nations and territories, and Antarctica have been designated whale sanctuaries. The protective efforts have allowed some species to return to numbers that will probably assure their survival, but others, especially the right whales, remain severely depleted in numbers and endangered. In 2006, however, after more nations favoring commercial whaling joined the IWC, it narrowly voted to support the eventual return of commercial whaling” (
Japan is one of the top countries that contributes to whaling. In fact, Captain Paul Watson and The Sea Shepherds confront Japanese whaling fleets every year in the Indian and Antarctic Oceans. Japan believes that whales contribute to the decline of fish as they compete with fisheries. A recent research indicates the opposite, that whales help fisheries, and promote nutrients needed by the ocean to grant health to the oceanic eco-system wherever whales are found (
It is known and documented that the oceans are dying. From pollution, to non-oxygenated water, to the temperature rise of water and carbon dioxide pumped in the air that the oceans absorb to runoff of fertilizer from farms and overfishing are all contributing factors to the oceans dying. Captain Paul Watson also shared his opinion current crisis with the world’s oceans today. In an article on Animal Planet, Watson states the following:
Jacques Cousteau said just before he died that the oceans are dying in our time, and we're not really... It's out of sight and out of mind for us. We really don't pay too much attention to it. But the reality is this: if the life in the ocean dies, the oceans die and we die. Civilization ceases to exist. That's how interconnected it is right now. Every single commercial fishery is in a state of collapse. The diminishment of the world's oceans is really incredible. Not many people are aware of this.
So it's a very serious situation we find ourselves in right now. The protection of life in the sea is the priority environmental conservation issue of our time right now. The environmental movement is pre-occupied and obsessed with global warming, which is nothing. They can't do anything about it. Nobody is going to stop global warming. If everybody stopped driving a car tomorrow it isn't going to stop it. You might be able to mitigate it a bit, but that's about it, it's here. we have to learn to adapt to it.
But what is the real factor causing global warming? It's the destruction of biodiversity, because life on this planet creates and absorbs carbon dioxide. In a normal situation, the amount of carbon dioxide created and the amount absorbed is in equilibrium. Now we're producing 3 billion tons more than organic life can absorb, and as we diminish other species we actually increase that amount because we're taking away the absorption factor.
Really people need an education about this. We have Al Gore's movie Inconvenient Truth. Well the biggest inconvenient thing about that movie is the fact that the man does not once mention meat production as a source for global greenhouse productions. In fact, meat production and the fishing industry produce more global greenhouse gas emissions than the entire automobile industry. So eating a steak actually contributes more to global warming than driving an automobile. As I say, a vegan driving a Hummer contributes less than a meat-eater riding a bicycle. Nobody wants to confront these issues because meat production produces not just carbon dioxide but also methane and, most importantly, nitrous oxide, which is 296 times as detrimental a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
The real issues are not being addressed. The environmental movement really is conversation and not really conservation at all. People talk about issues but nobody really ever wants to do anything. They don't want to make the sacrifices.
Now what Sea Shepherd does when we go to the high seas — we don't talk about, we don't do petitions, we don't lobby politicians. We go in and directly intervene and shut down what these people are doing. We do it aggressively, but at the same time we do it non-violently. We never injure anybody, and we don't intend to injure anybody, but we're not going to sit back and watch them destroy the planet without interfering.

Whales like every animal have a purpose in the world. Whales are the giants in the oceans. Even in death, a whale carcass in the deep ocean floor serves as food for many different ocean dwelling organisms. Whale wastes (as stated in the previous research) also contain nutrients needed for the survival of the bottom of the food chain organisms such as plankton. It has been known for years that plankton, microbes and fish recycle nutrients into the oceans, but no one has taken into account that whales also play a large role in the health of the oceans.
Whales are extremely important for the ecosystem. Essentially the death of all whales will decrease the nutrients recycled back into the oceans that can lead to the collapse of the oceanic ecosystem. If the oceanic ecosystem were to cease to exist, all life can perish shortly after. Humanity has stand together and not only stop whaling but start to respect the oceans especially now more than ever before. The ocean is dying and until action is not taken this could mean the collapse of an entire ecosystem. If an entire ecosystem collapses, all the other ecosystems will collapse as well.

Works Cited
"About Whaling - Captain Paul Watson." Animal Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Are the Oceans Dying? - The Week." The Week. N.p., 22 June 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Early Commercial Whaling." Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Greenpeace." Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Sea Shepherd International :: Who We Are." Sea Shepherd International :: Who We Are. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Whale Poop Pumps up Ocean Health." Whale Poop Pumps up Ocean Health. N.p., 12 Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Whaling - Attempts at Regulation and Protection." Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
"Whaling Controversy Through the Eyes of Japan’s Youth." Marine Science Today RSS. N.p., 20 June 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

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