Korea rejects sham science, confirms plans to pursue non-lethal whale research instead of whaling

Korea rejects sham science, confirms plans to pursue non-lethal whale research i
Tuesday, 8 January, 2013
London, UK

The Republic of Korea has confirmed its plans to pursue non-lethal whale research as an alternative to the cruelty of so-called scientific whaling.

Tens of thousands of people around the world, many of them IFAW supporters, emailed the Korean government in protest after it announced its intention to begin so-called scientific whaling at July’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama City, Panama.

The deadline for submitting its formal proposal, December 3, passed with no official announcement from the government, but the IWC has now officially confirmed that the Republic of Korea has opted instead to pursue non-lethal research.

IFAW has renewed its offer to assist in any way it can as Korea embarks on a path of humane research. IFAW has considerable expertise in the field of non-invasive cetacean research, with a team of dedicated scientists and crew studying whales around the world aboard its unique research vessel Song of the Whale.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “We welcome official confirmation that the government of Korea has made the right decision for whales. So-called scientific whaling is a backward, discredited and outmoded practice that produces useless science.

“Korea should be congratulated for rejecting the shambolic and cruel course sadly still being pursued by Japan’s Fisheries Agency and for instead embracing 21st Century science. IFAW is happy to offer our experience and expertise as Korea pursues its important non-lethal research objectives.”

IFAW urges Korea to adopt a programme of benign whale research that is aimed at addressing the conservation threats to whales in Korean waters. Bycatch in fishing nets is known to be a major threat particularly for the endangered J-stock minke whales and targeted research needs to be undertaken to work out where this is happening and how to reduce the risks to whales.

In addition, sightings surveys in Korean waters would help provide more information on population sizes, hotspot areas of particular importance and the species of whales in this area. Disentanglement teams need to be set up so that whales caught in fishing nets can be quickly released.

Korea has not hunted whales since 1986. The government has taken a strong position against illegal whaling and also spoke at IWC of its plans to build capacity for whale watching.

IFAW believes scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name and opposes all commercial whaling as being inherently cruel, unnecessary and unsustainable. Responsible whale watching is the only sustainable ‘use’ of whales.


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.

The whales that would have been exploited by scientific whaling, J-stock minke whales, are considered endangered by the IWC scientific committee. In addition, bycatch averages 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.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation