IndigenousWhaling A Religious Right or Ecological Crime?Presentation Transcript
Indigenous Whaling A Religious Right or Ecological Crime?
Whaling Today • International Whaling Convention (IWC) overseas the the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). This was signed in 1946 in order to track whale populations and address issues of conservation • Not all countries are members of the IWC. Canada left in 1982; countries that leave the IWC are not subject to any sanctions on whaling.
International Whaling Commission (ICW)
Who Is Part of the IWC? How Have IWC Countries
Whaling Under the IWC
– The IWC makes all decisions on whale hunting quotas, as well as the “rating” for the health and well-being of whale species and pods around the globe.
– The IWC does allow certain indigenous groups, and other countries, allotments of whales each year.
– The IWC created a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 as an attempt to reverse the effects of dwindling whale populations.
“ Scientific Whaling”/Commercial Whaling
• IWC does allow for what it terms scientific whaling under the auspices of the the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR).
• Three countries (Japan, Norway, and Iceland) use this loophole.
How Many Whales Are Hunted Under the ICW?
• Japan on average, kills 900 mink and 50 fin whales per year using high tech harpoon and hunting devices despite efforts by the IWC for a rewrite to several clauses to ban the Japanese from taking in so many whales. The meat is later sold commercially.
• Iceland and Norway also hunt whales, although in smaller numbers based on “self allocated commercial quotas.”
Cultural/Religious Whaling Indigenous Whaling is a long standing religious/cultural tradition
Indigenous Whaling Today • Aboriginal groups, both in the US and Canada still whale for cultural and/or ceremonial reasons as well as, in some cases, for food.
How Many Whales Are Hunted Today by Indigenous Groups?
• The IWC has given indigenous peoples certain quotas to allow for their whaling.
• United States Alaskan/Inuit Natives, 9 communities: 50 bowheads whales a year; 1-2 gray head whales.
• Natives of St. Vincent and the Grenadines: 4 humpback whales per year
• Faroe Islands: 950 long fin pilot whales yearly
• The Canadian government, not a member of the IWC, also allows certain native groups to hunt a small number of whales every year.
Why Do Indigenous Groups Still Whale?
• 80 percent of Alaskan native, Siberian Native, and Arctic Native groups’ diet consists of whale meat .
• Blubber from whale meat is linked to the thickening of blood, helping humans living in the Arctic to keep warm. Many Natives feel their increasing health problems are a direct result to the loss of our traditional diet of seafood and marine mammal meat
• The meat and fat of the whale are divided according to customary rules, which ensure that everyone in the village receives a portion.
Honoring the Whale: Religious Beliefs and Ceremony in Indigenous Whaling
• New boat covers and clothing are signs of respect to the spirits of the whales. For the same reason, people carefully clean the ice cellars where whale meat will be stored, making a pleasant home for the animal’s body.
• Whaling feasts and celebrations, including the Iñupiaq festival called Nalukataq, express the joy of successful hunting and the respect that people feel toward the great animals.
• A fundamental belief is that a whale chooses its own death, part of an ancient and continuing bond between people and the highly intelligent animal beings upon whom they depend for food.
Objections to Indigenous Whaling Just as people object to commercial whaling, people also object to the ceremonial/religious whaling done by Indigenous Peoples.
So Who Kills More Whales?
• It looks like it is about even.
• Native groups, with the permission of either the ICW or the Canadian Government, kill a little over a thousand whales a year.
• Remember, Japan alone kills about 950 whales a year and several other countries kill smaller numbers.
• Therefore, it seems safe to say the same number are killed from “scientific”/commercial whaling as from religious/cultural whaling.
How Does All This Whaling Effect the Overall Population of Whales?
• Whaling Does Take Its Toll: The gray whale had been hunted to the edge of extinction in the 1850's and again in the early 1900's.
• Until the early 20th century, humpbacks were considered too large and fast to be pursued by most whaling vessels. However, with the introduction of faster whaling ships and harpoon guns, whalers began targeting humpbacks. By the time commercial whaling was banned, humpback populations had declined to only 10% of their original size.
• Disruption on whale populations has drastic effects on other ecosystems. Reduced whale populations reduces Krill numbers, which provides diet for marine mammals, bird, and other fish.
Yet, Progress Can Be Made
• In 1947, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) provided full protection to the gray whale. The eastern north Pacific population is the largest surviving population, having made a remarkable recovery and numbering close to its original size. This is near to where many indigenous groups whale.
Conclusion: Who Is Right?
• In the end, it all depends on what you believe in.
• We might find it easy to disagree with commercial/scientific whaling, but many of the same reasons its not necessary can also be applied to the cultural/religious whaling done by indigenous peoples.
• Yet, for some native peoples, this is a key part of their culture.