Whaling: How It All Goes Down; Time To Put An End

Posted on July 24, 2011 in Environment

By Kriti Pal:

Had Herman Melville still been alive, he would have told the story of Moby Dick in a completely different way. Things have changed since the novel was first published in 1851; but, for the worse.

The novel tells the story of a whaling voyage. Through the eyes of Ishmael, the book’s narrator, we can see relationship between the land and the sea echoed the conflict between adventure and domesticity. As can be rightly said, the fictional character of Ahab is still seeking revenge, only now Ahab is a million people and Moby Dick is the very limited species of Whales that now exist.

A practice that began around the 9th century, Whaling took a drastic turn when it was legalized. The statistics say it all. Over two million whales were killed in the 20th Century itself. In spite of 40 years of complete protection, the blue whales of Antarctica are now less than 1 percent of their original abundance. Only a fraction of whale species are recovering, the majority of them are heading towards extinction.

Even though a ban was imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986, some 30,000 great whales were killed. Like any other profession, whale hunting constitutes of a large number of fishermen, but it is just not them; countries with high influence on IWC have been illegally hunting and that is what is causing greater damage to the whale population.

Whales are known to be very rich mammals when it comes down to what they can provide us with. At one point, almost every part of whale was used. Their meat was used as food; the blubber came into use in the form of fuel, grease, even as a material for make-up! Even today people use the bones for grinding and making fertilizers. The digestive system of the sperm whale provides us with ambergris that is used to make expensive perfumes.

Even thought the scenario has changed, whaling continues to be a problem and the reason for that is unknown. The changes have been thus:

  • Instead of blubber, mineral oil is used as fuel because it is cheaper to collect.
  • Meat of whale is not deemed as ‘food’ anymore.
  • Oil of plants and fraction of grease are used to make make-up material.
  • Artificial grease is used for the machines by the industry.
  • Whale bones are not used as building material.

Therefore, we see no reason as to why whaling persists even now, and in large numbers.

Whaling is no longer dangerous only for the aquatic stability; problems due to this practice have extended to global warming, pollution, overfishing, ozone depletion, sonar weaponry.

When it comes down to it, the whalers only have a weak argument: They should be killed because we have always killed whales and also because we have a cultural and historic “right” to kill them.

On no grounds is the killing of such an intelligent animals justified. They need to be protected as much as the other mammals. It is inhuman to destroy the balance of nature without any reason whatsoever. Strict action needs to be taken against the whalers.

As for the people whose livelihood depends on whaling, IWC should reduce their dependence and try to create alternate options for them. In the end, even an antagonist like Moby Dick deserves to live.