Human Interaction

Whale Wars Is the Whaling Moratorium Effective?

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: "At the time, in 1982, when the moratorium was adopted, everyone pretty much accepted that it needed to be adopted. [...] First of all, because the state of the knowledge was pretty bad. We didn't really know what was going on in the seas. We could see there were whales there. The whalers could see there were whales 'cause they weren't catching so many. But we didn't really know what was going on. So what happened was that they introduced this moratorium in 1982, and they also decided that during the next ten years what they were going to do was accumulate knowledge and find out what was going on in the seas."

DR. DAVID CARON: "The moratorium has been very effective. What's interesting is that the moratorium is effective because of a combination of the institution's decision, but also the pressure put on by states to convince other countries to respect the moratorium. [...] As like most of international law, [the moratorium] is consensual. [So one weakness is] that each member state can opt out of the moratorium."

DR. TIMOTHY STEPHENS: "In the 1980s, we have a landmark moratorium on commercial whaling, and that has protected whales since that time. Now ... it's questionable whether or not [the moratorium is] truly effective protection because Japan and other states are doing scientific whaling, which is arguably contrary to the convention."

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