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South Korea abandons 'scientific' whaling plans

10/12/2012 22:59:02 old_images/w/whalemeat-korea

Wildlife Extra reported in July that South Korea would ditch plans to launch scientific whaling

December  2012. Greenpeace have confirmed that the government of South Korea has abandoned its plans to begin a ‘scientific' whaling operation, a significant step forward in global efforts to protect whale populations.

The proposed hunt, announced in July, would have caught Minke whales for commercial purposes under the thin veil of scientific research. More than 100,000 people from around the world sent messages in the last month to the South Korean prime minister, asking him to call off the hunt.

"The voices of people from South Korea and the entire world have been heard by the South Korean government," said Greenpeace East Asia oceans campaigner Jeonghee Han. "The South Korean government's decision to not take up scientific whaling is another sign that commercial whaling has no place in our oceans. We urge South Korea to abandon all commercial whaling activities in the future."

Under International Whaling Commission (IWC) rules, a formal proposal for the ‘scientific' hunt was required by 3 December. The IWC has confirmed to Greenpeace that the South Korean government has not submitted this. South Korean officials have also confirmed to Greenpeace that a decision to not move forward with the hunt was taken a few days ago.

‘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.

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