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Whaling is the hunting of whales which dates back to at least 3,000 BC. The evolution of traditional Arctic whaling developed with increasing rapidity by early organized fleets in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale "harvesting" in the first half of the 20th century. In the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually.

Contemporary arguments for and against whaling are the subjects of ongoing contention. Greenpeace and other environmental groups dispute the various claims of scientific research "as a disguise for commercial whaling, which is banned" by the IWC's moratorium in 1986.

History of whaling

Whaling began in prehistoric times and was initially confined to (near) coastal waters. Early whaling affected the development of widely disparate cultures–as, for example, in Norway and Japan. Although prehistoric hunting and gathering is generally considered to have had low ecological impact, human activity related to early whaling communities in the Arctic may have altered freshwater ecology. The development of modern whaling techniques was spurred in the 19th century by the increase in demand for whale oil, sometimes known as "train oil" and in the 20th century by a demand for margarine and later whale meat.

Modern whaling

Whale oil is little used today and modern commercial whaling is done for food. The primary species hunted are the common minke whale and Antarctic minke whale, two of the smallest species of baleen whales. Recent scientific surveys estimate a population of 103,000 in the northeast Atlantic and 665,074 around Antarctica.
International cooperation on whaling regulation began in 1931 and culminated in the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1946, whose aim is to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the commercial whaling and the orderly development of the whaling industry". The IWC was set up under the terms of the ICRW for the purpose of making decisions on quota levels and other relevant matters based on the findings of its Scientific Committee. Countries which are not members of IWC are not bound by its regulations and conduct their own management programs.

The members of the IWC voted on 23 July 1982 to apply a moratorium to all commercial whaling beginning in the 1985-86 season. Since 1992, the IWC's Scientific Committee has requested that it be allowed to give quota proposals for some whale stocks, but this has so far been refused by the Plenary Committee. Norwaymarker continues to hunt minke whales commercially under IWC regulations, as it has lodged an official objection to the moratorium.


Nowadays, Canadian whaling is carried out by various Inuit groups around the country in small numbers and is managed by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The meat obtained from this whaling is commercially sold through shops and supermarkets. This meat is typically not available in southern metropolitan centres such as Vancouvermarker, Torontomarker, or Montrealmarker but is more available in northern communities where whale meat is a component of the traditional diet. There is considerable consternation amongst whale hunters and conservationists about the hunt. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society says "Canada has pursued a policy of marine mammal management which appears to be more to do with political expediency rather than conservation."

Canadamarker left the IWC in 1982 and as such is not bound by the moratorium on whaling.


Natives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesmarker on the island of Bequiamarker have a quota from the International Whaling Commission of up to four humpback whales per year using traditional hunting methods and equipment.

Faroe Islands

Around 950 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena, actually a species of dolphin) are caught annually, mainly during the summer. Occasionally, other species are hunted as well, such as the northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. The hunt is known as the Grindadráp.

Faroese whaling is regulated by Faroese authorities but not by the IWC, who do not regulate the catching of small cetaceans.

Most Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their culture and history and arguments about the topic rarely fail to raise strong emotions. Animal-rights groups criticize the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary. The hunters claim in return that most journalists do not exhibit sufficient knowledge of the catch methods used to capture and kill the whales or its economic significance.


Greenland Inuit whalers catch around 175 whales per year, making them the third largest hunt in the world after Norwaymarker and Japanmarker, though their take is only about one quarter of either Japan's or Norway's, which take 600 or more whales each year. The IWC treats the west and east coasts of Greenland as two separate population areas and sets separate quotas for each coast. The far more densely populated west coast accounts for over 90 percent of individuals caught. In a typical year around 150 minke and 10 fin whales are taken from west coast waters and around 10 minkes are from east coast waters. In April 2009 Greenland landed its first bowhead whale for nearly forty years after being given a quota by the IWC in 2008 for two whales a year until 2012.


Icelandic whaling vessels
Minke whale meat kebabs, Reykjavik
Iceland did not lodge an objection against the 1982 IWC moratorium, which came into force in 1986. Between 1986 and 1989 around 60 animals per year were taken under a scientific permit. However, under strong pressure from anti-whaling countries, who viewed scientific whaling as a circumvention of the moratorium, Iceland ceased whaling altogether in 1989. Following the 1991 refusal of the IWC to accept its Scientific Committee's recommendation to allow sustainable commercial whaling, Iceland left the IWC in 1992.

Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium. Iceland presented a feasibility study to the 2003 IWC meeting for catches in 2003 and 2004. The primary aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of fish-whale interactions. Amid disagreement within the IWC Scientific Committee about the value of the research and its relevance to IWC objectives, no decision on the proposal was reached. However, under the terms of the convention the Icelandic government issued permits for a scientific catch. In 2003 Iceland resumed scientific whaling which continued in 2004 and 2005.

Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006. The annual quota is set to 30 minke whales (out of an estimated 174,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic) and nine fin whales (out of an estimated 30,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic).


Lamalera, on the south coast of the island of Lembatamarker, and Lamakera on neighbouring Solormarker are the last two remaining Indonesian whaling communities. The hunters have religious taboos that ensure that they use every part of the animal. About half of the catch is kept in the village; the rest is traded in local markets using a barter system. In 1973, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sent a whaling ship and a Norwegianmarker whaler to modernize their hunt. This effort lasted three years, and was not successful. According to the FAO report, the Lamalerans "have evolved a method of whaling which suits their natural resources, cultural tenets and style."


When the commercial whaling moratorium was introduced by the IWC in 1982, Japanmarker lodged an official objection. However, in response to US threats to cut Japan's fishing quota in US territorial waters under the terms of the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment, Japan withdrew its objection in 1987. However, according to the BBC, America went back on this promise, effectively destroying the deal. Since Japan could not resume commercial whaling, it began whaling on a scientific-research basis. Australia, Greenpeace and other groups dispute the Japanese claim of research "as a disguise for commercial whaling, which is banned."

The stated purpose of the research program is to establish the size and dynamics of whale populations. The Japanese government wishes to resume whaling in a sustainable manner under the oversight of the IWC, both for whale products (meat etc.) and to help preserve fishing resources by culling whales. Anti-whaling organisations claim that the research program is a front for commercial whaling, that the sample size is needlessly large and that equivalent information can be obtained by non-lethal means, for example by studying samples of whale tissue (such as skin) or faeces. The Japanese government sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research , which conducts the research, disagrees, stating that the information obtainable from tissue and/or faeces samples is insufficient and that the sample size is necessary in order to be representative.

Japan's scientific whaling program is controversial in anti-whaling countries. Countries opposed to whaling have passed non-binding resolutions in the IWC urging Japan to stop the program. Japan claims that whale stocks for some species are sufficiently large to sustain commercial hunting and blame filibustering by the anti-whaling side for the continuation of scientific whaling. Deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, told BBC News that "The reason for the moratorium [on commercial whaling] was scientific uncertainty about the number of whales. ... It was a moratorium for the sake of collecting data and that is why we started scientific whaling. We were asked to collect more data."

According to Joji Morishita of Japanese Fisheries Agency, the Japanese public feel that anti-whaling groups are covertly racist. Norway issue around 1000 quota per year as opposed to Japan's 1,330. Moreover, Norway and Iceland hunt on a commercial basis. According to Morishita, "Singling out whaling is cultural imperialism - some people would say it's racism. Norway and Iceland are also whalers, but the criticism of Japan is stronger."

In July 2004, however, it was reported that a working group of the Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic had drawn up plans to leave the IWC in order to join a new pro-whaling organization, NAMMCO, because of the IWC's refusal to back the principle of sustainable commercial whaling. Japan is particularly opposed to the IWC Conservation Committee, introduced in 2003, which it says exists solely to prevent any whaling. Any directives from the IWC are undertaken on a purely voluntary basis as state sovereignty means that there are few avenues by which international law can be enforced.

At an IWC meeting in 2006, a resolution calling for the eventual return of commercial whaling was passed by a majority of just one vote. There has been a failure to lift the ban on commercial whale hunting and Japan has since threatened to pull out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

In 2007 the IWC passed a resolution asking Japan to refrain from issuing a permit for lethal research in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary - the main Japanese whaling area.

A proposal was floated in February 2009 by IWC Chairman William Hogarth. It was suggested that mitigating international opposition to coastal whaling off Japan's coastline might be accomplished in exchange for a Japanese commitment to scale back "research" whaling in Antarctic waters.


During the period 1946-1964, the involvement of the Netherlands in modern, post-war whaling in the Antarctic was intense. However, the current Dutch government opposes the practice of whaling, and supports extending the multi-national moratorium on commercial whaling.The Netherlands officially values the freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate, even on the high seas; but the Dutch government is also committed to the principle that all national and international laws governing safety at sea must be respected.


Norwaymarker registered an objection to the International Whaling Commission moratorium and is thus not bound by it. Commercial whaling did cease for a five year period during which a small scientific catch was made to gauge the sustainability of the stock, and resumed 1993. Only minke whales are permitted to be caught.

Norwegian minke whale catches have fluctuated between 487 animals in 2000 to 592 in 2007. The catch is made solely from the Northeast Atlantic minke whale population, which is estimated to consist of 103,000 animals (2008 IWC).


Russians in Chukotka Autonomous Okrugmarker in the Russian Far East are permitted under IWC regulation to take up to 140 gray whales from the North-East Pacific population each year.

United States

Season Catch
2003 48
2004 43
2005 6
2006 39
2007 63
All catches in 2003-2007 were Bowhead whales.
In the United States, whaling is carried out by Alaska natives from nine different communities in Alaska. The whaling program is managed by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission which reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The hunt takes around 50 bowhead whales a year from a population of about 10,500 in Alaskan waters. Conservationists fear this hunt is not sustainable, though the IWC Scientific Committee, the same group that provided the above population estimate, projects a population growth of 3.2% per year. The hunt also took an average of one or two gray whales each year until 1996. The quota was reduced to zero in that year due to concerns about sustainability. A review set to take place in the future may result in the hunt being resumed. Bowhead whales weigh approximately 5-10 times as much as minke whales .

The Makah tribe in Washington State also reinstated whaling in 1999, despite intense protests from animal rights groups. They are currently seeking to resume whaling of the gray whale , a right recognized in to the Treaty of Neah Bay.

Ship collision, bycatch and illegal trade

The World Wide Fund for Nature says that 90% of all northern right whales being killed are from ship collision, calling for restrictions on the movement of shipping in certain areas This is followed by by-catch, followed by hunting. . Some scientists believe pollution to be a factor. Moreover, since the IWC moratorium, there have been several instances of illegal whale caching by IWC nations. In 1994, the IWC reported evidence from genetic testing of whale meat and blubber for sale on the open market in Japan in 1993. In addition to the legally-permitted minke whale, the analyses showed that the 10-25% tissues sample came from non minke, baleen whales species, neither of which were then allowed for take under the IWC rules. Further research in 1995 and 1996 shows significant drop of non-minke baleen whales sample to 2.5%. In a separate paper, Baker stated that "many of these animals certainly represent a bycatch (incidental entrapment in fishing gear)" and stated that DNA monitoring of whale meat is required to adequately track whale products.

It was revealed in 1994 that the Soviet Unionmarker had been systematically underreporting the number of whales it took. For example, from 1948 to 1973, the Soviet Union caught 48,477 humpback whales rather than the 2,710 it officially reported to the IWC. On the basis of this new information, the IWC stated that it would have to rewrite its catch figures for the last forty years. According to Ray Gambell, the Secretary of the IWC at the time, the organisation had raised its suspicions of underreporting with the former Soviet Union, but it did not take further action because it could not interfere with national sovereignty.

The arguments for and against whaling

International debates over whaling have focused on issues of sustainability and conservation as well as ownership and national sovereignty. Also raised in debates is the question of cetacean intelligence and the level of suffering which the animals undergo during harvest. Since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, the value of lethal sampling of whales for scientific research in order to establish catch quotas has also been debated. Finally, the value of whaling to fisheries as a method of controlling whales' perceived negative impact on fish stocks is another point of debate.

Conservation status

Prior to the setting up of the IWC in 1946, unregulated whaling had depleted a number of whale populations to a significant extent, and several whales species were severely endangered. The IUCN notes that the Atlantic population of gray whales was made extinct around the turn of the eighteenth century. Examination of remains found in England and Sweden found evidence of a separate Atlantic population of gray whales existing up until 1675. Radiocarbon dating of subfossil remains has confirmed this, with whaling the possible cause.Whaling and other threats have led to at least five of the 13 great whales being listed as endangered. A past ban which was implemented around the 1960s has helped some of these species of whale to recover. According to IUCN's Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG), "Several populations of southern right whales, humpbacks in many areas, grey whales in the eastern North Pacific, and blue whales in both the eastern North Pacific and central North Atlantic have begun to show signs of recovery."

Other whale species, however (in particular the minke whale) have never been considered endangered.

Despite this, opponents of whaling argue that a return to full-scale commercial whaling will lead to economic concerns overriding those of conservation, and there is a continuing battle between each side as to how to describe the current state of each species. For instance, conservationists are pleased that the sei whale continues to be listed as endangered, but Japan says that the species has swelled in number from 9,000 in 1978 to about 28,000 in 2002, so its catch of 50 sei whales per year is safe and the classification of endangered should be reconsidered for the North Pacific population.

Some North Atlantic states have recently argued that fin whales should not be listed as endangered anymore and criticize the list for being inaccurate. IUCN has recorded studies showing that more than 40,000 individuals are present in the North Atlantic Ocean around Greenland, Iceland, and Norway. There is no information about fin whales in areas outside of the Northern Atlantic, where they still hold the status of being endangered.

A complete list of whale conservation statuses as listed by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) is given below. Note that, in the case of the blue and gray whales, the IUCN distinguishes the statuses of various populations. These populations, while not regarded as separate species, are considered sufficiently important in terms of conservation.

Extinct Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable Lower Risk

(Conservation Dependent)
Lower risk

(Near Threatened)
Lower Risk

(Least Concern)

*Atlantic population of gray whale went extinct in late 17th Century. It is not listed as a part of IUCN's red list.


Whaling harpoon being used to kill a whale
Farming whales in captivity has never been attempted and would almost certainly be logistically impossible. Instead, whales are harvested at sea often using explosive harpoons, which puncture the skin of a whale and then explode inside its body. Anti-whaling groups say this method of hunting is cruel, particularly if carried out by inexperienced gunners, because a whale can take several minutes or even hours to die. In March 2003, Whalewatch, an umbrella group of 140 conservation and animal welfare groups from 55 countries, led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), published a report, Troubled Waters, whose main conclusion was that whales cannot be guaranteed to be harvested humanely and that all whaling should be stopped. The report quoted official figures that said 20% of Norwegian and 60% of Japanese-captured whales failed to die as soon as they had been harpooned. WSPA further released a report in 2008 entitled Whaling: Defying international commitments to animal welfare? in which the culling of whales is compared–unfavorably–with slaughter guidelines for farm animals from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

John Opdahl of the Norwegian embassy in Londonmarker responded by saying that Norwegian authorities worked with the IWC to develop the most humane methods. He said that the average time taken for a whale to die after being shot was the same as or less than that of animals killed by big game hunters on safari. Pro-whalers also say that the free-roaming lifestyle of whales followed by a quick death is less cruel than the long-term suffering of factory-farmed animals.

In response to the UK's opposition to the resumption of commercial whaling on the grounds that no humane method of catching whales exists, or "is on the horizon", the pro-whaling High North Alliance points to apparent inconsistencies in the policies of some anti-whaling nations by drawing comparisons between commercial whaling and recreational hunting. For instance, the United Kingdom allows the commercial shooting of deer without these shoots adhering to the standards of British slaughterhouses, but says that whalers must meet such standards as a pre-condition before they would support whaling. Moreover, fox hunting, in which foxes are mauled by dogs, is legal in many anti-whaling countries including Irelandmarker, the United Statesmarker, Portugalmarker, Italymarker and Francemarker (although not in the United Kingdommarker) according to UK Government's Burns Inquiry (2000). Pro-whaling nations argue that they should not be expected to adhere to animal-welfare standards which anti-whaling countries do not themselves follow consistently, and draw the conclusion that the cruelty argument is a mere expression of cultural bigotry, similar to the Western attitude towards the eating of dog meat in several East Asian countries.

The economic argument

The whale watching industry and anti-whaling advocates argue that whaling catches "friendly" whales that are curious about boats, as these whales are the easiest to catch. This analysis claims that once the economic benefits of hotels, restaurants and other tourist amenities are considered, hunting whales is a net economic loss. This argument is particularly contentious in Icelandmarker, as it has among the most-developed whale-watching operations in the world and the hunting of minke whales resumed in August 2003. Brazilmarker, Argentinamarker and South Africa argue that whale watching is a growing billion-dollar industry that provides more revenue and more equitable distribution of profits than commercial whaling by pelagic fleets from far-away developed countries would provide. Perumarker, Uruguaymarker, Australia, and New Zealandmarker also support proposals to permanently forbid whaling South of the Equator, as Indonesiamarker is the only country in the Southern Hemisphere with a whaling industry. Anti-whaling groups claim that developing countries which support a pro-whaling stance are damaging their economies by driving away anti-whaling tourists.

Pro-whaling advocates argue that the economic analysis assumes unsustainable whaling by arguing that whaling deprives the whale-watching industry of whales, and counter that if whales are hunted on a sustainable basis, there is no competition between the two industries. Furthermore, they point out that most whaling takes place outside of coastal areas where whale watching takes place, and communication between any whaling fleet and whale-watching boats would ensure that whaling and whale watching occurred in different areas. Pro-whaling advocates also argue that whaling continues to provide employment in the fishery, logistic and restaurant industries and that whale blubber can be converted into valuable oleochemicals while whale carcasses can be rendered into meat and bone meal. Poorer whaling nations argue that the need for resumption of whaling is pressing. Horace Walters, from the Eastern Caribbean Cetacean Commission stated, "We have islands which may want to start whaling again - it's expensive to import food from the developed world, and we believe there's a deliberate attempt to keep us away from our resources so we continue to develop those countries' economies by importing from them."


While whales possess the largest physical brains of any animal, there is no consensus about the existence, nature and magnitude of cetacean intelligence. This lack of knowledge is partly because of the cost and difficulty of carrying out research with marine mammals. Humpback whales have been found to have spindle neurons, a type of brain cell previously considered to exist only in dolphins, humans and other primates, and some species of whale are highly social.

There is an argument that whales should not be killed because of their alleged high intelligence. Pro-whalers counter that pigs, which also possess high intelligence, are routinely butchered and eaten, or indeed that intelligence should not be the determining factor of whether an animal is acceptable to eat or not.

Safety of eating whale meat

Whale meat products from certain species have been shown to contain pollutants such as PCB, mercury, and dioxins. Levels of pollutants in toothed-whale products are significantly higher than those of baleen whales, reflecting the fact that toothed whales feed at a higher trophic level than baleen whales in the food chain (other high-up animals such as sharks, swordfish and large tuna show similarly high levels of mercury contamination). Organochloride pesticides HCH and HCB are also at higher levels in toothed species, while minke whales show higher levels than most other baleens.

The red meat and blubber of (toothed) long-finned pilot whales in the Faroe Islands show high toxin levels, which has a detrimental effect on those who eat it. However, in Norway, only the red meat of minke whales is eaten and the levels of toxins conform to national limits, while Japanese health-ministry scientists have found that minke whale meat harvested from the Antarctic, which constitutes the vast majority of whale meat eaten in Japan is similarly within national standards for mercury and PCB levels.

Whale meat is very high in protein and very low in saturated fat.


Whalers say that whaling is an essential condition for the successful operation of commercial fisheries, and thus the plentiful availability of food from the sea that consumers have become accustomed to. This argument is made particularly forcefully in Atlantic fisheries, for example the cod-capelin system in the Barents Seamarker. A minke whale's annual diet consists of 10 kilograms of fish per kilogram of body mass, which puts a heavy predatory pressure on commercial species of fish, thus whalers say that an annual cull of whales is needed in order for adequate amounts of fish to be available for humans. Anti-whaling campaigners say that the pro-whaling argument is inconsistent: if the catch of whales is small enough not to negatively affect whale stocks, it is also too small to positively affect fish stocks. To make more fish available, they say, more whales will have to be killed, putting populations at risk. Additionally, whale feeding grounds and commercial fisheries do not always overlap.

Professor Daniel Pauly, Director of the Fisheries Center at the University of British Columbiamarker weighed into the debate in July 2004 when he presented a paper to the 2004 meeting of the IWC in Sorrento. Pauly's primary research is the decline of fish stocks in the Atlantic, under the auspices of the Sea Around Us Project. This report was commissioned by Humane Society International, an active anti-whaling lobby, and stated that although cetaceans and pinnipeds are estimated to eat 600 million tonnes of food per year, compared with just 150 million tonnes eaten by humans (although researchers at the Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research give figures of 90 million tonnes for humans and 249-436 million tonnes for cetaceans), much of the food eaten by cetaceans (in particular, deep sea squid and krill) is not consumed by humans. However, Japanese do eat krill, and krill is also used in large quantities by fish farms as feed. Pauly's report also claims that the locations where whales and humans catch fish only overlap to a small degree, and he also considers more indirect effects of whales' diet on the availability of fish for fisheries. He concludes that whales are not a significant reason for diminished fish stocks.

More recent studies have also concluded that there are several factors contributing to the decline in fish stocks, such as pollution and habitat loss.

However, the dietary behaviour of whales differ among species as well as season, location and availability of prey. For example, sperm whales' prey primarily consists of mesopelagic squid. However, in Iceland, they are reported to consume mainly fish. In addition to krill, minke whales are known to eat a wide range of fish species including capelin, herring, sand lance, mackerel, gadoids, cod, saithe and haddock. Minke whales are estimated to consume 633,000 tons of Atlantic herring per year in part of Northeast Atlantic. In the Barents Sea, it is estimated that a net economic loss of five tons of cod and herring per fishery results from every additional minke whale in the population due the fish consumption of the single whale.

Value for research

Since the 1986 IWC ban on whaling, Japan has conducted its whaling by issuing scientific research permits. The value of "lethal sampling" of whales is a highly contentious issue. The stated aim of the Japanese JARPA research program is to establish sustainable whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. The selling of whale meat from the lethal sampling to fish markets is purportedly to help fund the research, a claim disputed by opponents as being a cover for illegal whaling. The IWC requires information on population structure, abundance and prior whaling history, which anti-whalers argue can be obtained through non-lethal means.

Lethal sampling is required to obtain age information and precise dietary composition. The age of a whale can be reliably gathered by examining the ear plug in the head of the dead animal, which accumulates as annual growth rings. Japan initially argued that simple population distribution of whale species is enough to determine the level of sustainability of the hunt and argued that certain species of whale, particularly minke whales, are in sufficient number to be hunted. The anti-whaling side countered by arguing that more accurate composition of population distribution in term of age and sex distribution is needed to determine the sustainability, which ironically provided the justification for the Japanese hunt under the scientific research exemption. According to lethal-sampling opponent Nick Gales, age data is not needed to establish a catch limit for whaling within the framework of the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) computer modeling, which is the stated goal of the Japanese research. However, deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, told BBC News that "The reason for the moratorium [on commercial whaling] was scientific uncertainty about the number of whales. ... It was a moratorium for the sake of collecting data and that is why we started scientific whaling. We were asked to collect more data."

Dietary information is obtained with lethal sampling by cutting open the stomach of the animal. Opponents of lethal sampling state that dietary habits can be ascertained by biopsies as well as collecting feces from living whales. Proponents counter by stating that biopsies only reveal the type of food consumed (such as fish or krill) and not the exact type of fish, and that feces analysis does not provide as good of a quantitative estimation of dietary consumption.

Although lethal sampling is a heavily debated issue, the IWC Scientific Committee acknowledges the usefulness of the data from JARPA. In a November 2008 review of Japan's first 18 years of its scientific whaling program, the IWC stated that the panel was "very pleased with the data [that Japan] collected," and though "there was some advice on how these data could be further analyzed, or better analysed," that there "was general consensus about the high quality and the usefulness of the data."


The animal rights perspective states that environmental concerns, possible cetacean intelligence, and animal welfare concerns are irrelevant. Abolitionist animal rights proponents argue that whales, like all animals, are sentient. They believe that this is reason enough not to harm or exploit them in any way.

See also


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