Hunting can be pretty unpalatable for conservationists no matter what the prey, but especially when it comes to whales. After three centuries of commercial whaling left many whale species severely endangered (and drove some to the edge of extinction), the International Whaling Commission put a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, hoping that some of the whale populations would be able to recover. Some cultures, including Japan, Iceland, and some Inuit peoples, are still allotted a yearly quota of whales that they can kill on cultural or scientific grounds. Greenpeace and other groups have argued that some of these cultures — specifically Japan — abuse these allotments and are actually engaged in commercial whaling.
This is not the case for the Indonesian fisherman featured in this video from the BBC’s excellent documentary series, “Human Planet.” For these fisherman, approximately 6 sperm whales are killed a year (which is not a threat to local sperm whale populations), and can support villages for months on end.
Some, however, argue that whales are particularly intelligent animals, and thus should be granted basic rights like other intelligent beings and should never be hunted.
What do you think? Is whaling acceptable if it’s feeding a small, malnourished population? Or should all whaling be off the table? Sound off in the comments!