Monday, March 8, 2010

Killing whales with cuddles

It would seem that as the policy makers move closer to developing a type of quota management system capable of protecting endangered whale species, those who purport to want to save the species most pose the greatest threat to its continued existence.

Recognition that whales are hunted and prized by some is a critical first step. It allows limits to be set, enforced and adjusted to ensure survival for the species. Trade in the rights would work even better in this regard just as it has for the once endangered orange roughy.

Iceland and Japan can tough it out over the quota with the Whaling Commission taking a fee to fund management of the entire species.

Whales are going to continue to be hunted whether legally or illegally. Setting an explicit quota for hunting offers – just as such quota systems have for endangered species in parts of Africa – the chance to manage total numbers and ensure their survival.

Trying to “stop” hunting on so called “moral grounds” (the same grounds that presumably allow sheep or chickens or vegetables to be put to the knife) by rejecting transparent and accountable hunting and continuing with the current politically driven games based on the cultural values of some but not others has every chance of ensuring a disorderly collapse of the fishery in an uncontrolled race – just as such rejection  has led to species collapse in parts of Africa.

Being blinded by emotion or politically driven agendas is a genuine threat. A non judgmental recognition of reality coupled with a little learning from many other examples of what quota management can bring offers strong hopes for preserving the species.

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