THE WHALING ISSUE: HUMANS PLAYING GOD
The story is the same year after year. It happens in May, or in June, or even in July. It is around those months that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) organizes their meetings every time in a different country. There, politicians that belong to different countries around the world will play God. On the discussion table, that could be called the "match board", hundreds of documents prepared mainly by scientific researchers that dedicate their lives to study whales. During many hours a day and in many consecutive days, argumentation will be presented as if they could represent playing cards. The main goal of some "gamblers", representing their country governments, is to kill whales. It was a good investment in the 1990’s and it probably will be in the new millenium. Some of their good shots are related to the old fashioned justifications such as "it is a tradition in our country" or even "it is for scientific purposes" (sic!). But their real will is business. At the other side of the game board you can find the countries (or gamblers) that are against whaling (the term used for the act of killing whales). Their argumentation are reasonable and worthy of praise in this moment of the Planet’s life, where nature conservation must be considered as an obligation of all the human kind. It is not accountable to kill wild animals in the name of one or another country richness, mainly when we are talking about migratory species that we almost know nothing about their reproduction cycles and also their population size estimates.
A fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus, crosses the Ocean year after year in its annual migration, meanwhile some "businessmen" try to decide their future. Aren't we too small to decide the future of such a huge species? (Photo by Marcos César de O. Santos)
In 2000, in Australia, one of the against-whaling good intentions was regarded to the establishment of a new sanctuary in the South Pacific. Whaling would not be allowed in an area of about 12km2 around the east coast of Australia. This santuary would also protect the minke whales that have been hunted by Japan and Norway even after the establishment of an international moratoria to stop whaling around the world from 1986 on. This species pays a high price just for the fact that its population is estimated in 900.000 individuals around the world. In a fast and suspect movement, the final results of the ballot for the establishment of the sanctuary satisfied the pro-whaling countries that were against the sanctuary. Countries located in the Caribbean gave support to Japan and Norway. Argentina, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru could not vote because they did not pay their annual dues with the IWC. Ireland, Korea, Oman, Russia, Salomon Islands and Italy represented vote abstentions. The ones that voted for the establishment for the sanctuary were South Africa, Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Spain, United States, Finland, Netherlands, India, England, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Sweden and Swiss. As those countries did not represent 75% of all vote intentions, they just regretted for loosing another time in this game which the most interested party will always be the whales, that will never vote. It is unacceptable that an important decision to protect fragile whales is blocked by some countries that are just interested in making money.
Soon, another game may be initiated in London. A whale sanctuary to be established in the South Atlantic that has the Brazilian government as one of the co-authors may be voted. This new ballot will probably be turned in a new game of chance. It will probably be another game where elegant dressed men will play for the rights of living or letting die, meanwhile thousands and thousands of whales will continue to navigate in never end seas, far away from those humans that still insist to play God.
We had meetings in London, Japan and Germany. Almost nothing changed for cetaceans. Politicians still play games. Until when? Are they waiting the extintion of cetaceans?