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Posted on July 25th, 2012, by

Hunting of whales is a traditional activity in many cultures. In fact, hunting of whales was of a paramount importance for many civilizations since, in the past, peoples were highly dependent on the resources they could take from the sea and oceans, including whales and other marine mammals. Moreover, hunting was vitally important for some peoples because it was the major source of food supply, clothes, tools and other important products for them.

In such a situation, it is quite natural that national cultures made the consumption of food made of whales and other hunted marine mammals an essential part of the national cuisine. However, the excessive consumption of marine products led to the extinction of marine species and whales are particularly susceptible to the threat of extinction because of the inability of whales to fast reproduction. As a result, nowadays, the problem of preservation of whales and other marine mammals is one of the main problems of the protection of the wild life, which, though, comes into clashes with the cultural traditions of different countries, such as Japan.

Basically, in the present days hunting of whales is forbidden, but, in actuality, hunting of whales is ongoing in terms of scientific researches. However, in actuality, such hunting is viewed by many specialists (Mulvaney, 174) as the violation of the moratorium on hunting of whales because scientific researches are used as a pretext for hunting of whales in traditional purposes, i.e. for the use of whales in now exotic dishes of national cuisines. In such a context, the moratorium of the International Whaling Commission becomes absolutely irrelevant in relation to the actual situation.

Obviously, the ineffectiveness of the moratorium makes the question of the real protection of whales as well as other marine mammals still relevant and, what is more, the problem of the preservation of whales and marine mammals is still unsolved. In such a situation, the mankind faces a dilemma whether preserve the wild life or, instead, preserve national traditions and continue to hunt whales and other marine mammals that will definitely lead to their total extinction. In this respect, it should be said that both positions have quite strong arguments in their support.

On the one hand, there are historically shaped cultural traditions of hunting of whales and other marine mammals.

At this point, it is important to underline that such a kind of hunting is a kind of business for such countries as Japan, where food dishes cooked with the use of whales and other marine mammals are viewed as traditional or even exotic, but still these are not the only products Japanese people can consume. Moreover, such products are just an insignificant part of the contemporary diet of Japanese people as well as other peoples living in developed countries.

Nevertheless, Japanese people, for instance, are not really ready to refuse from the consumption of dishes containing whales and other marine mammals. Therefore, there is a stable demand for these products that stimulate the ongoing hunting of whales and other marine mammals, even though there is not objective need for this hunting. It proves beyond a doubt that the contemporary Japanese society can survive and live comfortably even if it refuses from its old traditions in relation to their diet.

Naturally, supporters of old traditions argue that along with the ban of whale hunting for Japan will mean the loss of a part of their cultural identity, but, in contrast, it is necessary to remind about the changes in the environment of contemporary people which force them to change their traditional lifestyle. In fact, it is absolutely unacceptable to eliminate all whales and other marine mammals just because of traditions and peculiarities of national cuisine.

Anyway, the hunting of whales for commercial purposes will eventually result in the extinction of this species as well as other marine mammals. Consequently, Japanese people, for instance, as well as other peoples of the world, will definitely have to abandon their traditions and cultural norms.

Taking into consideration the fact that if the hunting of whales and other marine mammals is not stopped than the question of their extinction will be just a question of time, it would be logical to refuse from the hunting right now.

Such a decision will definitely increase chances of whales and other marine mammals for survival because the real ban of hunting will give whales and other marine mammals a chance to preserve their population and recover, at least partially in a long-term perspective, from the negative impact of human’s hunting. In such a way, the arguments of the supporters of the total forbidden of hunting of whales seem to be unshakable and very convincing.

At any rate, it seems to be the only logical solution since Japanese and other peoples living in the contemporary world can survive without such kind of hunting.

However, in this respect, it is necessary to remind about some ethnic groups and communities of the native population of Northern regions of North American and Asia. Their lifestyle is still quite primitive and they live in accordance with old traditions, which hunting of whales and other marine mammals constitute an essential part.

Moreover, for these people the hunting is still the major source of food, clothes and other vitally important products.

In fact, the total ban of hunting of whales will definitely undermine the economic life in these communities and native people of Northern regions of North American and Asia will be forced to change dramatically their traditional lifestyle.

Obviously, in such a context, the end of the hunting of whales will lead to the disappearance of unique and rare cultures of Northern peoples. In fact, as they are deprived of the possibility to practice their major economic activity, i.e. hunting of whales and other marine mammals, they will be unable to survive for they live in quite extreme natural environment. It proves beyond a doubt that the hunting is the only way to survive for these people.

Otherwise, they will be forced to change their socioeconomic activities totally and, what is more, they will be forced to abandon the regions they traditionally inhabited because without hunting it is simply impossible to survive there.

As they move to other regions, they will need to get used to the life in the new socio-cultural environment and, therefore, they will definitely lose their cultural identity because they will be assimilated in the course of time and get rid of their unique cultural traditions.

In this respect, even the most devoted defenders of the wild life can find any arguments for the total ban of hunting of whales. In fact, in relation to native people the ban of hunting of whales raises a new problem, a choice between the preservation of whales and other marine mammals, on the one hand, and unique societies, on the other. The only way out of such a dilemma may be found in the stricter regulation of the contemporary international legal norms and standards concerning the hunting of whales. What is meant here is the necessity of introduction of stricter rules which could totally forbid hunting of whales for commercial purposes. In other words, whales and other marine mammals should not be hunted if it is not a vitally important socioeconomic activity for people.

At the same time, those people, for whom hunting of whales and other mammals is the main or probably only socioeconomic activity which is the main source of food, clothes and other essential products, should preserve the right to practice this traditional activity. In this respect, it is important to underline that the impact of such limited hunting on the population of whales and other marine mammals will be consistently less destructive than the contemporary “scientific researches”¯, while it will preserve really unique cultures and ethnic groups.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the problem of hunting of whales is still unsolved and the solution of this problem is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, it is necessary to undertake bold steps to solve this problem and limit consistently the hunting of whales and other marine mammals. In fact, it is only people whose survival depends on hunting of whales and marine mammals should preserve the right for hunting.

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