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Essay Paper on Whaling

by Jeremy Hoks

According to Australian researchers, in Australia, as well as some developed nations such as the US, it’s been only 30 years that whales are being treated differently from other animals. (Vozella, 2005) For most of the last century, whaling was just a very profitable fishery for those who invested in, and benefited from it. It goes without saying that whaling should be banned because it is disturbing the balance in the ecosystem; it is unethical and causes these species to become extinct. In fact, inAustraliawhaling has become a symbol of the over-exploitation of the natural resources.Australia,New Zealandand theUSare now attempting to conserve, indeed, preserve, whales and oppose killing of whales across the board. (Vozella, 2005)

First of all, a significant issue that arises from whale extinction is environmental impact. Blichfeldt (1994), based on “Scientific American” article of 1994, suggests that “the carcasses of whales may be a major source of nutrition for deep-sea organisms”. (Blichfeldt, 1994) Moreover, whaling is unsustainable for the marine ecosystem. Given the fact that whales play a crucial role in development of oceanic organisms, whales are part of complex food chain meaning that they affect not only singular organisms but also aquatic life.

Harvesting the natural resources has a tangible impact on the ecosystem that is involved. The use of renewable resources is acceptable as long as it does not reduce the futures possibility of harvesting the resource’s surplus.  In other words, the harvest of whales should be confined within the resources’ capacity. Whale carcasses produce a massive amount of food into an otherwise nutritionally limited environment. In fact, “one whale fall can provide up to 160 tons of organic material, as much as thousands of years of marine snow, the organic debris that drifts down from surface waters.” (Fenley, 2006)

Moreover, one of the most controversial and influencing issue that calls for immediate action is whale extinction. According to Greenpeace International (2005) statistics, due to commercial and scientific research whaling, the whale population around Antarctica has lowered to 10% of what it was before commercial whaling, which indicates that Japan is exceeding its whaling limit. The possibility that whaling has caused species extinctions at the remote deep-sea floor opens a new scale of human impacts on the ocean. Humans should try to recognize that the oceans consist of a stack of tightly connected ecosystems, thus overfishing in surface waters is bound to bring about problems thousands of meters below. (Fenley, 2006)

One of the arguments is that the whales have an absolute right to live can be ethically justified in two different ways.  Tom Regan, the philosopher, has the most important theorist behind the animal rights.  As Tom Regan (1982) claims, the animal rights must be respected in the same was as those of humans. (Regan, 1982, p. 109) Nowadays, most nations in the world are opposed to whaling and millions of people regard the killing of whales as inconsistent with current moral ideals. Although adhering to the belief that nothing we do on earth is in any way relevant to the universe, what humans do is extremely important to the species achievement, consequently elevates self-satisfaction and psychological quality of life. The more humans can see themselves as part of the whole, the more satisfying their own existence will be – as individuals and as a species. The issue of whaling should raise the growing awareness and the answer to the proverbial question is that we are not alone, not even here on earth. According to whaling opponents, whales have rights equivalent to those of human rights, and this is why whaling must be banned. If we think that even the least intelligent of human beings enjoy the same rights as everybody else, then one cannot use the criterion of intelligence as a basis for denying whales the aforementioned rights. As it is impossible to discern a relevant difference between human beings and whales, one must, according to the argumentation presented above, allow whales the right not to be subjected to suffering and the right to live.

Another reason for a ban on whaling is the ethical issue and whale rights.  Whales are intelligent and mysterious mammal species. It is inhuman to allow these species to be killed for scientific research or for commercial purposes. In addition, it is against some regulations that have been set in previous years. For instance, whales and other animals have an absolute right to live, and it could be ethically justified in two ways. The first ethical justification refers to an animal rights standpoint (Blichfeldt, 1994). This point of view does not situate whales in an advantaged position compared to other animals. However, Blichfeldt (1994) refers to Tom Regan, the philosopher, who, as already mentioned above, made the second justification that claims that animal rights need to be respected in exactly same way as those of Man and those animals have an absolute right to live. Therefore, scientific researchers are abusing these regulations. It is said that whale’s large brain size makes them high intelligent animals. In addition, their complicated brain structure is very similar to that of the human brain. Unfortunately, people that are supporting whaling could refer to Klinowska (1988) who as a member of the Species Survival Commission Cetacean Specialist Group said that the brain structure of whales is as primitive as the ones of the hedgehogs and bats. Nevertheless, whales are unique creatures and that is why scientists keep researching their origins and their lifestyle.  Thus, the whale extinction should be prevented through minimalization of the research quota or a total ban until whaling becomes sustainable.

The whale protectionists are interfering in others peoples life, as the put demands for a ban on whaling in respect for their own symbols.  Those interventions have very grave consequences, as the whalers lose their livelihood, social identity, and sometimes have to sell their boats as well as homes.  According to research carried out by Craig Smith, a marine biologist at theUniversityofHawaii, deep-sea extinctions may have already occurred in theNorth Atlanticwhere populations of 13 species of whales were greatly diminished by commercial whaling in the 1800s. Whaling continued into the 1970s in the Southern Ocean, and extinctions there may still be occurring. (Parsons, Rawles, 2003)

In conclusion, there have been many arguments and objections as to why whaling should be banned. The arguments presented above make the banning of whaling compelling until one can be sure that numbers have recovered sufficiently.  It goes without saying that the whaling industry, as well as the process of whaling, brings about serious ecological effects. The extinction of whales can cause a disturbance in species interactions of the aquatic environment. As humans rely on other species to survive, some marine species such as barnacles need the whale to survive. Moreover, there’s no doubt that extinction poses serious and irreversible consequences. People all around the world as a human species agree that extinction is not what they are aiming for. As human rights are accepted, animal rights should be respected as well. There is some contradiction between the regulations but at some stage in anyone’s life, sacrifices need to be made for the benefit of the majority and for the future of our kind. Therefore, whaling should be banned or until it becomes sustainable, since it is no longer necessary and cannot be justified.

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