RoK/S Korea and Japan: unlikely allies in the whale-killing business


The Republic of Korea (or South Korea) has not done itself any favours this week, announcing that it wants to begin hunting whales (or as it and Japan disingenuously puts it, ‘scientific whaling’) contra to the wishes of virtually every other developed nation on the planet. The excuse they’re putting forward is that fish ‘stocks’ (a word that turns living animals into a numerical commodity in one stroke) are down. Both countries (that on many other levels really can’t stand each other) use the same excuse. But both countries have massive fisheries, catch and eat vast amounts of fish, and both pollute the oceans that up until recent times supported the huge numbers of fish they want to catch. It’s not the whales that are causing regional fish populations to drop: it’s the rampant over-fishing and environmental mismanagement practiced by the self-same countries that want to lay the blame elsewhere before their fishing industries collapse. Of course, we all know that. And it’s very likely they know that we know. But with economies built on exports of products that we all seem to want, they couldn’t give a cr*p…


  • Reuters: PANAMA CITY | Thu Jul 5, 2012 9:08pm BST (

    South Korea’s proposal to resume whaling for scientific research has angered other Asian countries and conservationists who said the practice would skirt a global ban on whale hunting.

    Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would fight the proposal, which was made on Wednesday at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama City, while the United States said it planned to take the matter up with the South Korean government.

    Critics said the move to pursue whaling in domestic waters was modeled on Japan’s introduction of scientific whaling after the IWC imposed a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

    Japan says it has a right to monitor the whales’ impact on its fishing industry. South Korea says whaling is a long-standing cultural tradition.

    Anti-whaling activists regularly harass Japanese vessels engaging in their annual whale hunt in the Southern Ocean off Australia and Antarctica, with the two sides sometimes clashing violently. At least one activist boat has sunk in recent years.

    In Seoul, a government official said South Korea abided by international regulations and it would be up to the IWC to assess its proposal.

    “We’ve submitted a proposal to the IWC’s Scientific Committee to resume scientific whaling in our waters and will await the committee’s assessment,” said an official at the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

    “If it says it is not adequate in their assessment of the legitimacy of scientific research, we’ll make further preparations.”

    South Korea said its fishermen were complaining that growing whale populations were depleting fishing stocks, an assertion the World Wildlife Fund said had no scientific basis.

    Environmental activists dismissed the term scientific whaling as a thinly veiled ruse to conduct commercial whaling.

    “It’s an absolute shock this happened at this meeting and it’s an absolute disgrace because to say that hunting whales is happening in the name of science is just wrong,” James Lorenz from Greenpeace told Australian television. “Essentially, it’s commercial whaling in another form.”

    The minke whales that South Korea proposes hunting are considered endangered, the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement.

    Former Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell, now on the board of the anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd, said the organization would “have to get organized to go out to the oceans and save the whales off South Korea.”



  • South Korea unveils ‘scientific’ whaling proposal

    Richard Black, BBC, 04 July, 2012

    South Korea is proposing to hunt whales under regulations permitting scientific research whaling, echoing the programmes of its neighbour, Japan.

    Hunting would take place near the Korean coast on minke whales. How many would be caught is unclear. The South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) said the research was needed “for the proper assessment of whale stocks”.

    Many governments at the IWC meeting condemned the Korean announcement.

    There are several different stocks, or groups, of minke whales in the region, and one of the them, the so-called J-stock, is severely depleted.

    Given that fact, “we believe that scientific whaling on this stock borders on the reckless,” New Zealand’s delegation head, Gerard van Bohemen said.

    But Joon-Suk Kang, the head of the South Korean delegation, said the programme was necessary to answer questions about minke whale stocks that non-lethal research had been unable to solve.

    He said the proposal was not finalised, and that whaling would not begin until plans had been discussed by an international group of expert scientists convened by the IWC.

    The Koreans’ eventual stated aim is to prepare the ground for a resumption of “coastal whaling” – a rather vague concept that Japan is also pursuing, and that would see whale hunting return as a normal activity.


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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores


  1. Laurie Allan says:

    Generations to come will struggle to understand why ‘industrialised’ nations were still hunting these distant relatives of ours in this day and age. Only traditional aboriginal communties can still justify hunting these animals for food and associated products. It makes one ashamed to be called a ‘human’ being and have to share the same planet with countries that still condone and allow the carrying out of this vile activity.IMO.

  2. Charlie says:

    Thanks Laurie. I can see absolutely no excuse for the industrial hunting of ANY animal, let alone ones that are intelligent, communicative, have strong family bonds, and undoubtedly feel pain and fear. The power of leading industrial nations to trample over the wishes of so many people is reprehensible – and this example just demonstrates the total absence of any linkage between science and politics in countries like RoK and Japan. RoK’s environmental record is lamentable, and I’m afraid this desire to kill whales in a misguided effort to secure the votes of fishing districts will – hopefully – backfire badly.
    I’m not holding my breath though – having destroyed its most important wetland (Saemangeum), guess which country almost immediately hosted the 2008 Ramsar meeting COP10: yep, RoK. That meeting, incidentally, was framed as “”Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People”. You couldn’t make it up really…

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