[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Re: Now, S. Korea wants "scientific" whaling


South Korea plans to resume whaling for research


Seoul, SOUTH KOREA - South Korea plans to resume hunting whales for research purposes, officials said Thursday, drawing immediate protests from non-whaling nations and environment groups that suspect the plans may be a cover for commercial whaling.

South Korean officials conveyed the plan to the International Whaling Commission during an IWC meeting this week in Panama, according to Seoul's Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The whaling would be aimed only at studying the types and amounts of fish whales eat as fishermen complain that an increasing number of whales are consuming large amounts of fish stocks, ministry officials said.

The IWC gives member states sovereign rights to scientific whaling but South Korea will still give up its whaling plans if the international organization rejects them, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.

Environmental groups decried the South Korean plans as a back-door effort to make the country only the fourth to allow commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1986. Various exceptions have allowed Japan, Iceland and Norway to hunt whales anyway. Indigenous groups in several countries also whale as allowed under international rules.

Japan claims its hunts are for research purposes, though the meat from the killed whales mostly ends up in restaurants, stores and school lunches. South Korean officials said they haven't determined what to do with the whale meat following the studies.

The leaders of Australia and New Zealand quickly condemned South Korea's plans and said they would raise diplomatic protests.

"We think it would be a terrible step in the wrong direction," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said during a visit to Sydney.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told a news conference that she was "very disappointed" at the South Korean announcement. "We are completely opposed to whaling, there's no excuse for scientific whaling," she said.

"We believe this move is a thinly veiled attempt by Korea to conduct commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, similar to hunts conducted by Japan in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," Wendy Elliott, head of global environmental group WWF's delegation to IWC, was quoted as saying in a statement.

South Korea still outlaws whaling for commercial purposes under the 1986 ban. The country briefly conducted a scientific hunt of mink whales in 1986 and it hunted three to four dolphins for similar purposes annually between 2004 and 2010, according to the South Korean fisheries ministry.

Read more: http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/world/asia/12007918657562/south-korea-plans-to-resume-whaling-for-research/#ixzz1zqG2VqGo

--- In MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL@yahoogroups.com, "MalcolmB" <malcolmb2@...> wrote:
> (The BBC)
> 4 July 2012 Last updated at 16:11 ET
> South Korea unveils 'scientific' whaling proposal
> By Richard Black
> Environment correspondent, BBC News, Panama City
> South Korea is proposing to hunt whales under regulations permitting scientific research whaling, echoing the programmes of its neighbour, Japan.
> Hunting would take place near the Korean coast on minke whales. How many would be caught is unclear.
> The South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) said the research was needed "for the proper assessment of whale stocks".
> Many governments at the IWC meeting condemned the Korean announcement.
> There are several different stocks, or groups, of minke whales in the region, and one of the them, the so-called J-stock, is severely depleted.
> Given that fact, "we believe that scientific whaling on this stock borders on the reckless," New Zealand's delegation head, Gerard van Bohemen said.
> But Joon-Suk Kang, the head of the South Korean delegation, said the programme was necessary to answer questions about minke whale stocks that non-lethal research had been unable to solve.
> He said the proposal was not finalised, and that whaling would not begin until plans had been discussed by an international group of expert scientists convened by the IWC.
> The Koreans' eventual stated aim is to prepare the ground for a resumption of "coastal whaling" - a rather vague concept that Japan is also pursuing, and that would see whale hunting return as a normal activity.
> 'Breach of faith'
> The region around the port of Ulsan, in the south-west of South Korea, has a whale-eating tradition that appears to date back thousands of years, judging by prehistoric cave art.
> Fishermen in the region already catch whales in fishing nets. Officially, this happens accidentally, but local environment groups say the minkes are deliberately caught, and that the meat is easily bought in markets and restaurants.
> Dr Kang said that fishermen in the area are now complaining that a growing whale population is eating more and more fish.
> Any government is entitled under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) to embark unilaterally on a scientific hunting programme, although Japan is the only one that currently does so.
> Anti-whaling governments and conservation groups argue that Japan's programmes in the North Pacific and Antarctic are an abuse of process, as the regulation was originally designed to allow for the taking of a few whales here and there, and not hundreds per year.
> They argue that the real purpose is to provide a supply of whalemeat, albeit to a dwindling customer base.
> "Scientific whaling is an obsolete and sad consequence of a document drafted 60 years ago," said Monaco's IWC commissioner, Frederic Briand.
> "There's no reason to do it, given the enormous body of scientific literature [on cetaceans] obtained via non-lethal means."
> South Korea was one of the first countries to take the scientific whaling route after the global moratorium on commercial hunting came into place in 1986, but the programme was in operation for just a single season.
> Then, the country came under intense diplomatic pressure to stop, and Dr Kang admitted to BBC News that his government is now likely to feel a similarly huge pressure not to start.
> However, Korea, Japan, Iceland and Norway all complain regularly that anti-whaling governments have no intention of ever agreeing to a resumption of hunting anywhere, however healthy the stocks, and that this amounts to a breach of promises made when the moratorium came into existence.
> Troubled waters
> Earlier, Japan lodged a proposal to allow coastal whaling by four villages around the coast - among them Ayukawa, which was devastated by the 2011 tsunami.
> It has tabled similar bids for many years, and they have always been defeated by anti-whaling governments, who view the move as a way of breaking the whaling moratorium.
> Here, Australia's Donna Petrochenko was one of many taking the same line, telling the meeting: "This is commercial whaling, clear and simple."
> Japan put its proposal to one side and it will be discussed again later in the meeting, although it is doubtful whether it will go to a vote, given that Japan clearly does not have the three-quarters share of the vote it would need to win.

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