Korean move to scrap whaling plans welcomed

Korean move to scrap whaling plans welcomed
Thursday, 12 July, 2012
Sydney, Australia

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has welcomed news that the Republic of Korea will abandon plans to conduct so-called scientific whaling.

According to a statement by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Bob Carr, Korean Foreign Minister, Mr Kim Sung-hwan, indicated in a meeting at today’s East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that plans for scientific whaling would not proceed.

At the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) last week in Panama, Korea unexpectedly signalled its intention to begin so-called scientific whaling. This was despite failures by Japan and Iceland to find successful markets for the meat from their own scientific whaling or to produce scientific findings of any value from killing whales. Korea’s plans were widely condemned at the meeting and received criticism from Korean activists and media since. A senior Korean official hinted yesterday that Korea was reconsidering its plans.

Matthew Collis, IFAW Australia campaigner, said: “IFAW welcomes the indication by the Korean Foreign Minister that Korea will abandon its plans for ‘scientific’ whaling. These plans should never have seen the light of day in the first place. There is simply no need to kill whales for scientific purposes in the 21st Century. Non-lethal alternatives exist to discover all we need to know about whales.

“Korea must now turn its back on whaling once and for all and embrace the emerging global consensus for whale conservation.”

IFAW believes scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name and opposes all commercial whaling as inherently cruel, unnecessary and unsustainable. IFAW promotes responsible whale watching as the only sustainable ‘use’ of whales. Before announcing its intention to begin harpooning whales in the north Pacific, Korea had told delegates at the IWC of its plans to build capacity for whale watching in the country.

Mr Collis added, “There is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for coastal communities. We urge Korea to invest in its fledgling whale watching industry and protect its whales for future generations to enjoy.”

Notes to Editors –

Korea has not hunted whales since 1986, but each year there is a substantial bycatch of whales in fishing gear in Korean waters.

A 2009 IFAW study, compiled by the Melbourne-based Economists at Large & Associates, shows more than 13 million people took whale watching tours in 119 countries worldwide, generating a $2.1 billion in total expenditures during 2008. The report also documented dramatic growth of the whale watching industry in Asia, the Pacific, South America, the Caribbean and Europe, significantly outpacing global tourism growth rates over the past decade. There are now more than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world, employing an estimated 13,200 people.

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.

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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