Whale Harpooning in Australian Waters
When Japanese whalers illegally harpooned a Minke whale in Australian territory, Sea Shepherd activists had to take action. “…when they tried to stop the carcass from being transferred from the harpooning ship onto another vessel, the whalers attempted to ram their boat.” says Mr Watson.
Australia today sees whale harpooning as an illegal action which is not encouraged. However, Environment Minister, Tony Burke, says there isn’t any more Australia can do to prevent the harpooning. On the other hand, opposition environment spokesman says “…the Government needs to send a Customs vessel to the area before the situation escalates.”
Luckily, the whale harpooning industry in Japan is weakening due to activists chasing the whales away from harpooning ships, and the demand for whale meat decreasing. Yet, the Japanese government are still trying to keep the action going by giving financial support to the harpooners.
When I first heard of the methods of whale harpooning- plunging explosive harpoons into the whale then waiting until it dies- I immediately found myself against the issue, but then I began to really think. Whales are harpooned for their meat, skin, teeth, make-up ingredients, scientific research, etc. Are these purposes and motive so different to when Australia, and other nations, kill cows, ducks, chickens, and rabbits?
This led me to think that if we’re going to make killing whales illegal, why aren’t we making the killing of cows and ducks illegal? To this question I am left with no answer, but I can still form my own opinion on the matter:
I see meat as a main source of protein, vitamins and minerals, otherwise something that is essential to my wellbeing. The meat I eat comes from cows, pigs, lamb, and various seafood. These are animals that Australia is supposedly killing in a humane way, which I see as being good for both the animal and myself. This then begs the question that if whales are killed using a humane method, does it make it okay to kill and sell them? Cows are killed in a humane way and there isn’t as much controversy over killing or not killing them. How can killing these two animals be seen in two so very different lights?
Of course there are factors to consider, such as sustainability and survival, but this leaves me at an impasse. I can’t say that I’m against the killing of animals, even in a humane way, because this afternoon I sat down at my kitchen table and ate pork roast; yet the idea of a whale being harpooned sounds so wrong. Right now I feel like rocks are being hurled at either side of my brain because i cannot form a solid view of this topic. So I’ll leave you with the question: Does killing animals in a humane way make it okay to kill them?
Cover image source: http://www.abc.net.au/btn/v3/stories/s2101029.htm