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Dangerous whales

Hamburguesa de ballena

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The 57th meeting of the International Whaling Commission was expected to be just another meeting. The global commission strongly urges Japan to stop what Japan calls “scientific whaling.” In response, Japan requests an increase in the whale quota and the inclusion of new species, which the world vehemently refuses.

At this point, the old argument of “Japanese scientific whaling” is no longer believed by Japan itself. In fact, after years of scientific whaling, there are hardly any Japanese studies on the subject that are remotely relevant. However, Japan remains stubborn in killing whales, enlisting the support of a handful of underdeveloped countries that, in exchange for “favors” or through simple corruption, vote in favor of hunting.

It is good to know who these countries are, although in many cases it takes great effort to find them on the map: Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominica, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Iceland, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Palau, Solomon Islands, Iceland, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Suriname, and Tuvalu. Like it or not, they are countries, and their votes count as such. With just three more countries, Japan could blatantly reopen whaling by taking control of the International Whaling Commission.

More of the same. It seemed like just another meeting until, on the last day of the IWC meeting, Japan decided to open a fast-food chain based on whale meat in order to attract Japanese youth to consume meat from the nearly extinct animal. To ensure that the news does not go unnoticed, they flooded newspapers around the world with photos like the one illustrating this article. It was a blatant slap in the face to the IWC, delivering a clear and forceful message: “We will do whatever we want regardless of what the world says.”

If this aggression was lacking something, it was the recent “self-interview” published in a Nicaraguan newspaper by Mr. Miguel Marenco, who is none other than Nicaragua’s Commissioner to the IWC. In the interview, a list of “Myths and Realities” is presented, which curiously matches the one found in a brochure from the Japan Fisheries Agency. One of the most prominent claims is that “the most desirable whales are the Minke whales and that their numbers are above normal levels.” Furthermore, in the same article, he blames Minke whales for the fish scarcity and warns that they pose a grave threat to humanity due to their uncontrolled growth.

Without a doubt, Commissioner Marenco ignores that there are only 10% of the whales left in the world compared to the pre-commercial hunting era. In some cases, the numbers are even lower, such as the North Atlantic right whale with barely 300 surviving individuals and the Western Pacific gray whale with only 100 individuals. Without a doubt, he is either ignorant or pretends to treat the rest of the inhabitants of his country as ignorant by blaming whales for the scarcity of fish, which would be like blaming woodpeckers for deforestation. He ignores or wants to ignore that whales existed millions of years before the first Japanese person decided to regulate them and that, at that time, they lived peacefully in a balanced world.

It seemed like just another meeting, the world trying to make Japan understand that the killing must stop. Prominent scientists in the field warning that if hunting continues, the entire sea is at risk, along with the health of the planet. It seemed like just another meeting, but no, it wasn’t. It was the saddest, most incomprehensible and corrupt meeting in recent memory.

The world has one year to figure out how to stop the killing. Meanwhile, a young Japanese girl takes a bite of a whale burger and smiles carelessly. At the same time, on the other side of the globe, a Nicaraguan child looks at the sea with distrust. His government has just told him that there are dangerous whales threatening his future.

“One cannot defend what one does not love, and one cannot love what one does not know.”