International Whaling Commission to meet in Morocco
Commercial whaling stands as an emblem of human hierarchical control over the landscapes and seascapes, below our practice of puppeteering the orchestration of life and life systems. Commercial whaling is the beating heart of a warfare of political, economic, environmental, cultural damage—the wardrum rapture. The International Whaling Commission, the center of its fury, has been issuing killing quotas and allowances since its formation in 1946.
Under decades of pressure from environmental groups, an international moratorium on commercial whaling was passed in 1986 by the IWC, and whale populations have risen steadily, although still facing the now illegal dangers of harpoon and driftnet. Iceland and Norway have not acknowledged any participatory efforts in the global halt of whaling. Japan has, deceitfully. For years since, they continue their whaling industry under the noble veil of scientific research, claiming study and selfless purpose. They prefer not to comment when asked reason or cause to how the whales caught scientifically end up on the shelves of markets and on the plates of dining restaurants.
Japan has no whale culture. Whaling was introduced to the Japanese by General MacArthur following World War II, who attempted to revitalize the practice of eating whale meat, to feed the millions of Japanese struggling with threats of starvation. There is no profitable gain for the Japanese whaling industry. They have warehouses full of frozen whale meat, unsold, unlikely ever to be sold. They are bankrupt, fully subsidized by the Japanese government. Then why continue whaling? There is a resistance to give up their platform in the seas, in order not to look weak as a nation. Though multiple environmental and animal rights groups have strengthened their pressure upon the Japanese and their whaling fleets, the Japanese haven’t acknowledged the possibility of giving up. “‘We can’t change now because it would look like giving in,’ said Mr. Kodaira, a lawmaker from the northern island of Hokkaido. “Will we have to give up tuna next?’” Whaling out of spite and stubbornness for reform.
In mid June, 2010, eighty-eight nations, representing the International Whaling Commission will meet in Morocco, and will negotiate and vote through compromise and uncompromise whether or not to overturn the current moratorium on commercial whaling. In past meetings and votes, Japan has bought the votes of the smaller least developed countries, many of which are landlocked, where whales have no impact or concern. All expected of politics.
This year’s meeting however, Japan has succeeded in convincing the Obama Administration that the return of hunting whales is of strong appeal. In 2008, on the campaign trail, Obama stated he will “ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.” President Obama now supports Japan’s proposal to overturn the moratorium currently in place, issuing killing quotas to the fleets of exploding harpoons. Voters for the once hopeful president are left feeling betrayed and deceived.
Whether or not, we as humans, decide whales worthy enough for protection and safety from the harpoon and driftnet, we will carry the fate of life and death through a measure of policy and order. Even the occasion of a committee of lawmakers and votetakers, negotiating around dark tables of polished oak, deciding whether whales are of more value left to roam in their universe of vast blue, or whether their appointed human value of financial gain is most to be considered, is emblematic of the anthropocentric standard we have set for the rest of the natural world. Intrinsic value is left at the wayside, and the puppeteers of fate appoint with law and allowance.
Whales are the humans of the sea. They are at the highest overarching point of the food chain, patiently waltzing the vast migratory currents of the sea, understanding with calm composure there to be no fear of predator, no partitioner of breath. Kings of the blue. The largest grandest bodies the world has ever bred. Their fateful sentence from the human self-appointed practitioners of life and death is emblematic of the present age: the sixth Great Extinction. The plummeting health of this orbiting green and blue is at the mercy of the few, in which the plenties and the bounties serve the never-filling stomach of uncompromise.
The whale song cries—the soft-spoken reminder of sentient form roaming the universe of blue; the rendezvous rhythm of the blue.