South Korea was condemned this past week by a number of environmental groups and governments after Seoul stated that it will allow whaling to take place again for the purposes of science. Seoul’s ministry of fisheries and agriculture announced this past Thursday that in order to protect local fishermen that are seeing their fish stocks dwindle because of whales more scientific research needs to be carried out.
They plan do so by allowing whale hunting to take place again; which is a very controversial decision given the dwindling number of whales in the earth’s oceans. The country stated that it will submit a plan to the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee by the start of next year and do whatever the committee tells it to.
Critics of the move believe that the country simply wants to start commercially whaling again and are just using the excuse of scientific research as a way to do so. The concern is raised due to the fact that whale meat is a very popular dish in South Korea and the country already has a much higher rate of ‘accidental’ whale catches when compared to other neighboring countries.
Japan currently also hunts whales using the excuse that they are conducting scientific research. Seoul announced their plans in Panama at an IWC meeting at which Kang Joon-suk stated that whale meat has been consumed historically for a very long time in South Korea and since the 1986 moratorium on whale fishing was placed the minke whale population has re-grown in numbers.
He added that legal whaling has been banned and it has been very hard the last few decades for the people of his country who are used to fishing for whales for food purposes. New Zealand and Australia were the first to speak out about the announcement where whaling is strongly opposed.