This article appeared in the Sunday Debate page in the Herald Sun, 15 January 2012.
To read the argument from the anti-whaling side (Sea Shepherd), please go to the following link.
Before talking about the whaling in the Southern Ocean
IT IS quite unfortunate that the current debate on whaling is somehow focusing only on the Japanese scientific research whaling in the Southern Ocean and the clash between the whalers and environmental activists. It is actually distracting the debate from the fundamental question. The focus of the debate should be on a question: How should human beings relate to this creature, the whale, in the 21st century?
As it is well known, the relationship between human beings and the whale is long. Sometimes it was worshipped. Sometimes it was demonised. It was utilised as energy resource. It also was consumed. However, in Australia the relationship is currently minimised to the form of watching.
On the other hand, however, we keep hearing about the ballooning human population and food shortages. The issue of the food security is one of the top priorities for the international community to deal with. Then, is it too offensive to suggest that the whale may be one of the options we should turn to in order to relieve the problem of food shortages?
"The utilisation of renewable natural resources is essential to human survival" (Eugene Lapointe). Considering the nature of human beings, we consume life in some way or other to live. I personally do not see any reasons why we should rule out the whale from the options.
Of course, we must not forget the dark history of the overexploitation of the whale species. Thus, the sustainability of the species must be maintained and strict regulation needs to be applied. Whether that should happen in the Southern Ocean or not is another question we need to deal with at the next stage.
Because Australia's concern is heavily on the Southern Ocean, there is an impression that the International Court of Justice would solve the whole problems which Australians have about whaling. But in reality, whaling is an ongoing practice in different parts of the world in different forms, legally. That means even if Australia wins the ICJ case, which is targeting the Japanese scientific research whaling in the Southern Ocean, whaling would continue elsewhere on the planet and the dispute would remain. Thus, we should spare a thought for how we should relate to the creature in this new century by taking a few steps back and getting back to zero.