Editorial: Whalers return as Japan resumes commerical whaling

One hundred years ago, ships with powerful harpoon guns set sail from the Island and other parts of the B.C. coast to hunt whales.

Between 1905 and 1967, when commercial whaling was banned, about 25,000 whales were slaughtered at the four whaling stations on Vancouver Island.

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Canada and more than 80 nations have long since taken a stand against whaling, but now Japan is shedding the flimsy cloak of its “scientific” hunt and is resuming commercial whaling in July. It has dropped out of the International Whaling Commission.

At one point last year, Japanese ships killed 333 minke whales, including 122 pregnant females, even though whale meat is falling out of favour in Japan.

The Japanese might claim that there are lots of whales.

But there were lots of whales when Europeans and North Americans started hunting them. Indigenous Peoples had hunted, but their numbers were too small to affect whale populations.

Sailing ships and hand harpoons changed the equation, and whales began to disappear. Steam-powered ships and harpoon guns, however, showed what industrial-scale hunting could do. The whales were devastated.

Most of the world came to its senses in the late 1960s, and the commission was created. It has taken decades to rebuild some populations to sustainable levels. Others have not recovered.

Can Japan be dissuaded from its destructive course? The rest of the world must try. And Canada should make its voice heard.

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