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South Korea launches alleged 'Scientific whaling' to add to their 'bycatch' - ARSE

05/07/2012 08:23:30

South Korea plans to copy the Japanese 'Scientific whaling programme'

NZ opposes South Korean whaling proposal
July 2012. South Korea has announced plans to launch ‘scientific whaling' of Minke whales, similar to that run by Japan, but potentially even more damaging to whales as they will target Minke near the shores of Korea, a small and vulnerable population.

Already catching 200 whales per year as ‘bycatch'
Korea already catches an estimated 200 Minke whales per year by ‘accident' (They must be incredibly careless). If the Korean scientific community are so keen to get hold of some whales for science, they already have plenty to choose from.

‘Accidental bycatch'
In 2007 Wildlife Extra reported on the improbable number of whales caught by the Korean fishing industry as ‘accidental bycatch', some 200 per year. Though it is illegal to directly hunt Minke whales in South Korea, those caught in fishing nets can be killed and sold as ‘bycatch' if officially reported. Economic incentives make such pursuits attractive, as individual whales were thought to fetch as much as $100,000.

The 2007 study, involving numerous researchers, was led by Scott Baker of Oregon State University. Researchers estimated that the true number of Minke whales that probably passed through Korean markets from 1999 to 2003 was around 827 individuals, or nearly twice the number in official reports.

‘If the mortality is really twice as great as the number reported to the government and to the International Whaling Commission, it has major implications for the survival of the species,' Baker said. ‘Researchers who have done sighting surveys of Minke whales report difficulty in even locating the whales and it has been hard to reconcile the small numbers sighted at sea with the numbers reported via bycatch.

New Zealand speaks out
New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has condemned the Korean announcement of an intention to commence a so-called scientific whaling programme in the North West Pacific as "a serious setback for those who are committed to conservation of the species".

Mr McCully says he hopes Korea will carefully consider the concerns of countries like New Zealand before making any final decisions.

Accidental bycatch
"Whales in these waters are already heavily targeted by Japan, and large numbers are also caught as by-catch by Korea. Any action by Korea to commence whaling in these waters following this announcement will have serious consequences," Mr McCully says.

‘Scientific' arse
"This initiative will also place further pressure on the IWC, already an organisation with difficulty sustaining itself as a credible international institution. The portrayal of this initiative as a ‘scientific' programme will have no more credibility than the so-called scientific programme conducted by Japan, which has long been recognised as commercial whaling in drag.

"In this day and age there is simply no need to kill whales in order to conduct effective research. New Zealand has raised its voice against this proposal at the IWC meeting and I have instructed that our Ambassador in Seoul take immediate steps to register our serious concerns with the Korean government. It is to be hoped that Korea will now give serious consideration to the widespread and strong objections being raised," Mr McCully says.

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