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Whale Wars-Again

October 28, 2011

Last year, the Japanese whaling fleet, harassed constantly by the Sea Shepherds, went home early, and without killing as many whales as they had planned. Many people took that as a good sign for the future. Apparently, not. The Japanese whaling fleet is gearing up for another Southern Ocean season, and the Japanese government is planning to spend $10 million to send an escort vessel to help fend off Paul Watson and the Steve Irwin. So the stage is set for more confrontation.

The Japanese are saying that they need to continue their “research” whaling in order to make it possible to resume commercial whaling in the future, despite widespread condemnation from countries in the region. The economics of whaling just don’t add up, so it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that cultural stubbornness, and narcissistic preoccupations with the importance of human “face,” is driving the ongoing whale slaughter, rather than any concept or morality, or even economic rationality. The result is sure to help Whale Wars score great ratings. And while I am all in favor of Watson and his team doing everything they can to stop the whale killing, and appreciate the public awareness Whale Wars delivers, I wonder how much of the profits Animal Planet puts into whale conservation.

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