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South Korea hints at a return to whaling

As the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks in Panama entered their third day, representatives from the South Korean government took steps towards a return to whaling by announcing that they would be considering so called ‘scientific’ hunts in the future.

The IWC’s founding treaty, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), allows contracting governments to issue ‘special permits’ to their nationals for scientific research.

Japan already uses this same scientific loophole to bypass the global ban on commercial whaling and kills hundreds of whales each year in order to conduct ‘research’. The meat is then sold on the open market in Japan.

Korea last killed whales in 1986 in the first year of the IWC moratorium. It killed some 69 minke whales under a self-allocated Scientific Permit.

Anti-whaling nations present at the meeting immediately criticised South Korea’s announcement which it says is due to pressure from the people of the Ulsan area (a South Korean coastal village) who wish to hunt whales again.

It is expected that South Korea would target minke whales in the Sea of Japan.

WDCS whaling policy lead, Vanesa Tossenberger said: “It’s incredible that some countries still argue that they need to kill whales in order to conduct scientific research.  Japan has killed more than 20.000 whales to conduct this ‘research’ since the ban on commercial whaling came into effect, when many non-lethal methods are available.”

Listen to Vanesa on Radio Australia

You can read about Korea’s previous scientific whaling in WDCS publication A Preliminary Review and Evaluation of Scientific Whaling from 1986 to 1996.pdf