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Commission rejects Greenland plan to increase whaling

International Whaling Commission says requested quota increase aimed at boosting sales of whale meat in tourist restaurants, not at providing sustenance for indigenous peoples

A humpback whale and its calf in NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While the U.S. government arrived at the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission announcing an unrelenting commitment to conserve whale populations, animal welfare activists criticized an early vote by the U.S. in favor of increasing Greenland’s quota of whales in the next few years.

At issue is the debate over subsistence whaling, which is seen as critical to sustaining traditional culture among indigenous populations in the Arctic region.

Despite the U.S. vote, the commission rejected the Greenland plan with a large coalition of countries including all EU members (except Denmark) and all Latin American countries voting against the increase. Continue reading

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Genetic diversity a good sign for blue whale recovery

Study tracks cetacean circumpolar navigation

A blue whale swims near the surface of the ocean. PHOTO COURTESY KELLY HOULE/NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Antarctic blue whales are recovering slowly from the brink of extinction, and a new study showing high genetic diversity among the cetaceans that survived the slaughter is a hopeful sign for the future.

Blue whales are the largest living animals. They were though to number about 250,000 before intensive whaling in the 20th century reduced their numbers to just a few hundred. Blue whales are still listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“Fewer than 400 Antarctic blue whales were thought to have survived when this population was protected from commercial hunting in 1966,” said Angela Sremba, who conducted the circumpolar study  as part of her master’s degree with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. Continue reading

Save the whales … with ‘cap and trade’

Three humpback whales surrounded by birds in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Economics, marine science professors team up to offer a market-based solution to whale conservation

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A marine science professor and an economist from California say a market-based approach to whale conservation could help sustain populations of the cetaceans and also help whalers who make their living from killing the  marine mammals.

Anti-whaling groups like Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, and the World Wildlife Fund spend at least $25 million per years on a variety of activities intended to end commercial whaling, yet every year, commercial whaling not only continues, but grows.

Instead of spending that money on anti-whaling activities, the groups could use the money on an open whale conservation market to purchase a share of the quotas, thus saving whales directly.

Under the current, largely unregulated system, the number of whales harvested annually has doubled since the early 1990s, to about two thousand per year and many populations of large whales have been severely depleted and continue to be threatened by commercial whaling. Continue reading

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