Why New Zealand and Pacific Islands need to stand against whaling

This is not about scientific research, irrespective of what you hear from the Japanese Government and the fishing crews. It is about what it has always been about: killing whales for commercial consumption as food.

Japan has an appalling record of whaling, alongside Iceland and Norway, which carry out similar activities in the northern Atlantic Ocean in equally hostile environments.

I want to see Japanese whalers barred from entering all ports in Pacific basin countries other than their own. New Zealand has always been one of the more admirable nations when criticizing Japan on the subject of whaling. But it is time to step up a notch and flatly deny them use of our ports.

The case for not slaughtering whales is compelling. Aside from being a highly unethical industry to be a part of, whales make substantial environmental contributions. A whale has significant natural ability to absorb carbon. A sperm whale for example could absorb a similar level of carbon to 694 acres of forest.

There is a second strong strand of reasoning for supporting the end of whaling. Whale watch tours contribute substantially to the local economy of many countries. In New Zealand the marine environment off the coast of the seaside town of Kaikoura is a natural home to whales. Here a deep canyon starts just a couple kilometres off the coast from South Bay on the south side of the Kaikoura Peninsula. It quickly plunges from the beach to 6,000+ feet below sea level in just a few kilometres. Because this is where the plankton and other food that they feed on is most concentrated it brings whales in close to the shore and it is not at all uncommon to see whales, orca, dolphins and seals.

Pacific Island nations can be helped to develop such tourism projects as well. Many of them have a wide range of whales and other sea life in transit passing through their waters. It would be a potentially significant source of income and help prop up economies that are going to suffer heavily as a result of climate change impacts on their physical environment.

Whilst Japan can be made to move out of the Antarctic fisheries, it is important to note that the closer one gets to Japanese whalers the more resistance they will put up. Indeed the whaling programme in Taji is the site of what environmentalists consider to be mass murder, as the sea turns a bloody shade of red from the mammals being slaughtered. Documenting this is a dangerous exercise as the whalers are extremely hostile to anyone who tries, with scuffles, blocking of all media and threats of prosecution to anyone watching. Not only that, but the Japanese police in Taji are considered to be sympathetic to the whalers.

It is important to raise this issue as a bloc of New Zealand + Pacific Island nations. We cannot rely on Australia to support this as long as the ruling Liberal-National coalition remains in office, but in order to stand up to super power interference, the island nations are too weak to stand on their own.


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