Human Interaction

Whale Wars Is the West Hypocritical About Whaling?

posted: 05/15/12

Animal Planet presents this feature as a conversation with legal scholars. We draw no conclusions, other than that reasonable legal minds differ on these issues.

DR. CHARLOTTE EPSTEIN: "The Western whaling stance is seen as extremely hypocritical [in Japan], for two reasons.

"First of all, most of the whales plundered by the West. This is important to remember. The blue whales were actually endangered since the 1930s. Now the West only became really concerned about the whale in the 1970s. By that time a lot of the whales were well and truly missing from the sea. The only thing is that the Japanese didn't stop, whereas the West did. And it was necessary to stop, might I add. So there's the sense that you did it too, and can you not remember that?

"And [...] what about all your other environmental records? There is a sense in which the countries that care most about saving the whales are also the countries that actually had the worst record on other environmental issues. Specifically Australia and the United States hadn't signed the Kyoto Protocol, were very bad on the climate issue. But there they were harking on about the whales.

"There is this sense that the Americans, all they really care about when they care about the environment is endangered species. What about the oceans? What about biodiversity, which is a broader issue than just species alone? There is this sense that you tell us to save the species that you care about but you don't really care about the rest of the environment."

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