Korea Eyes J-Stock Minke Whales
Taking its cue from its feisty neighbor to the east, Korea followed up Japan’s proposal for a small-type coastal whaling quota with a provocative, fist-pounding rant about its own plans to turn ‘J’ stock minke whales to sashimi.
In his usual frenetic, ear-piercing style, alternate commissioner Jeongseok Park announced on the Commission floor that that Korea would be submitting a whaling proposal ‘in the spirit of trust, good faith, and transparency’ and that Korea’s position was that it did not accept that whales should not be killed or caught. Jeonseok further asserted that the IWC was a forum for legal, not moral, debate, and that ‘moral preaching was not appropriate’ on the issue of whaling.
The esteemed commissioner from South Korea made the case that the consumption of whale meat in coastal communities such as Osong dated back to ‘prehistoric times’ and that the ‘J’ stock minke population had recovered since the moratorium on commercial whaling was implemented in 1986.
Using the red herring justification of ‘whales are gobbling up all of our fish’, coastal fishermen are appealing to the Korean Government for whales to be killed. Keeping its hand close, Jeonseok announced that the Korean delegation would submit a research plan to the IWC Scientific Committee sometime in 2013.
Since suspending its commercial whaling program in 1986 in compliance with the moratorium, a limited market has operated in some coastal cities such as Osong, based on bycatch of minke whales that become entangled in fishing gear. A minke whale can fetch upwards of $60,000 USD if caught as incidental bycatch. That’s a big incentive for coastal fisherman, so it’s little wonder that minke whale ‘accidental bycatch’ off the coast of South Korea is on the rise. This is clearly a very accident-prone population.
Commissioner Park closed by stating that he sincerely hoped that Korea’s research plan will be given the ‘highest consideration’, but in the same breath reminded his IWC colleagues that Korea was under no obligation to inform the Commission in advance of issuing a unilateral quota,
Here’s a sample of comments in response to Korea’s dropping its whale-anvil:
UNITED STATES: The U.S. opposes lethal scientific whale research. Though allowed under Article VIII, it is unnecessary, and we would point out that it is our understanding that takes of minke whales would consist of special permit whaling.
NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand strongly opposes ‘scientific whaling’ under article VIII (of the Convention). New Zealand takes particular opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The data collected has not contributed meaningfully to whale conservation or management. With regard to Korea’s request for a permit for North Pacific minke whale stocks, we are strongly opposed to Korea’s proposal.
SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS: We respect the rights of all contracting government to engage in scientific research on special permits and urge all contracting governments here to do the same. This type of research is still valuable and critical and it is our view that scientific research is the bedrock of the work that this organization is suppose to do in managing whale stocks around the world. We hope in the spirit of science and research independence, that this body will endorse and support this type of research.
RUSSIA: With regard to scientific permits, Russia in general supports scientific research, and the results of the research in Japan are interesting for the understanding of the situation with whales and their habitats within Antarctica. Russia supports the proposal by Korea to return the traditions and cultural to the people in coastal communities.
We will have to wait until 2013 to see what Korea brings to the table.
P.S., the ‘J’ in J-stock isn’t short for ‘juicy’, Commissioner Park.