Republic of Korea urged to publicly reject whaling plans as it plays host to international conservation forum
On the eve of the opening of the world’s largest and most important conservation meeting, host country Korea has been urged to publicly reject its plans to slaughter whales.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Conservation Congress, which takes place once every four years, is due to begin in Jeju tomorrow (Thursday), just weeks after Korea provoked international outrage by announcing its intention to begin harpooning an unquantified number of minke whales for so-called scientific research.*
After widespread condemnation, Korean government officials initially appeared to distance themselves from the announcement, made by the Korean delegation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama in July. However, there has still been no official statement by the Korean government that it has rejected the plan and it has until this December to submit a proposal for scientific whaling to the IWC.
IUCN has issued a position statement on the proposal, urging Korea to reconsider its plan and instead continue to support non-lethal whale research in Korean waters –
Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “There is a certain irony that at the same time Korea is hosting this vital international conservation congress, it could be planning to train its harpoons on an endangered whale population.
“We urge Korea to state publicly and categorically that it is abandoning its ill-thought out whaling plans.”
IFAW believes that so-called scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name, producing sham science which is not taken seriously by the reputable scientific community.
The whales that would be exploited, J-stock minke whales, are considered endangered by the IWC scientific committee. In addition, there is a bycatch (entanglement in fishing gear) averaging 150-200 whales per year. Some of these whales face an additional threat as they are also taken in Japanese waters. The population is predicted to decline further if current bycatch levels continue.
Korea has previously taken a strong position against illegal whaling, with convicted offenders receiving prison terms or large fines.
IFAW opposes all commercial or so-called scientific whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Korea does not currently allow commercial or scientific whaling. However, it permits the sale of whales caught in fishing nets, with an adult minke whale reportedly worth US$100,000. IFAW-funded DNA analyses of whale products for sale in Korea were used to estimate the number of individuals on sale over five years. This research revealed that around twice the reported catch for this period was taken with 827 whales entering the market.
IUCN is the world’s largest global conservation network, consisting of 962 national and international non-governmental organisations and 91 state members. The 2012 World Conservation Congress runs from September 6-15.
* At the July 2012 meeting of the IWC in Panama City, Panama, Korea indicated that it may conduct whaling under Article VIII of the Convention, which would allow it to set its own catch limits which do not need to be sustainable or take any conservation implications into account.