Symmetry wrote: Of course the biological argument is that whales aren't an endangered species, indeed, not a species at all. And the majority of whales killed by the Japanese aren't endagered either. If you're ok with the Americans killing endangered whales, but your position is that it shouldn't be done if it's labelled in the wrong way, I don't think you have a reasonable point.
I admit it has been a few years since I researched this topic, so it is possible that some factors have changed.
However, I believe that the only people claiming whales are not endangered are those wanting to hunt them.
From the outset, I am not saying I utterly ignore the "moral" bit. I now enough about whales to say that while they are certainly not with human intelligence or anything close, they are intelligent. I am not comfortable with any hunting for those reasons... but, I am OK with hunting deer, eat pork and do recognize that this is an inconsistant view.
Its just that I think there are enough purely biological reasons right now to leave the discussion on those grounds... and let research develop on the other fronts, for the time being. The morality issue just has no firm answer.
Anyway, my understanding is that ALL cetaceans, with the possible exception of a couple of porpoises, are endangered. For the inuit, taking a whale is a big part of certain tribe's culture. I won't get into all that here, but when the whales go.. those tribes will simply no be, culturally, any more. That time of change is actually inevitable, may even be here for a variety of reasons. However, as long as the people are holding to traditions and living the basically traditional lifestyle (albiet with electricty, etc.), then I think they have a right to continue, even if it means hunting whales. The number of whales they have EVER taken was very few. It is within a sustainable limit, even for a highly depressed species. For both of those reasons, I think allowing specific "Eskimo" tribes to hunt whale is OK.
Japan and Norway, to contrast, essentially revel in the future. We are not talking about Sami, but modern, highly technical hunters. Then the question is one of biology. Either the population CAN sustain the hunt or it cannot. So far, the consensus is mostly "no", but these nations have skirted around that. I believe that discussion should be open, honest and up front. Either there is a sustainble population with fishing or not.
OH-- one more bit, while I try to avoid the whole "should we hunt whales at all [because they are "Flipper" or "Shamu", more or less),I DO think discussion of ethical, humane hunting techniques is warranted. When an animal is slaughtered on a farm, there are rules to make sure the animal is killed in a relatively painfree way, is held up until slaughter in reasonable conditions, etc. This is another reason why Japan rather stands out. Their methods have often been shown to be repulsive.