An Obama plan to allow a few nations to continue hunting whales would sanction a sorry practice. But in exchange it would buy time for the majestic creatures to continue recovering in number and for outdated culinary attitudes to shift.
Most of the world couldn’t care less about eating whale meat. And the market for whale oil lamps disappeared in the 19th century when petroleum was discovered and Edison had a brighter idea.
Why whalers still ply the oceans remains a mystery outside a few places where hunting for the leviathans remains a cultural tradition. For most people, whales represent what is glorious and awe-inspiring about the natural world, the blue whale being the largest animal now alive on the planet.
Yet the hunting of whales goes on – despite an international ban set forth in 1986. Japan has an exception to hunt whales for “scientific research.” Norway and Iceland don’t abide by the ban. All three still stalk and kill the majestic animals, as do indigenous peoples in several more countries.
According to The New York Times, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) now is close to putting to a vote a new policy that would sanction some limited commercial hunting. It appears to have the support of the United States and several other nations that oppose whaling.