Korean government seeks to resume whaling for scientific research and to protect local fishing grounds
Local and international environmental groups yesterday criticized the government’s decision earlier this week to resume whaling to protect the country’s fishing grounds.
A Korean delegation attending the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama on Wednesday said they would submit a plan to resume whaling for scientific research purposes.
A statement on the same day by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries stated that the plan also aimed to protect the country’s fishing grounds, which it said were threatened by an increase in the whale population.
But Greenpeace Korea dismissed the plan as a transparent effort to resume commercial whaling.
“There is no scientific evidence that the increasing number of whales causes damage to the annual catch of fish. We see that [the government] aims to restart commercial whaling,” the group said in a statement yesterday.
Commercial whaling in Korea ended in 1986 after Korea became a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which banned whaling except for scientific purposes and subsistence whaling for indigenous peoples.
Since that time, the whale population in Korean waters has reached 86,000, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and poses a significant threat to the commercial fishing industry.
The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement of Ulsan – formerly the hub of commercial whaling in Korea – said any decision on whaling should be made on the basis of what’s best for the environment.
“The Fisheries Ministry should hand over conrol [of the issue] to the Environment Ministry,” which would act principally to protect the whale population, the group said in a statement yesterday.
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