Killing whales for food has been happening for millennia.
But it was commercial whaling – turning whales into barrels of oil for profit –
that led to the wholesale destruction of most of the world’s populations of big
One of the most significant issues being discussed and voted
on at the upcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Slovenia
is the call to create a Whale Sanctuary in the South Atlantic. But what is a
whale sanctuary? Why does it matter? And what’s so special about the South
Commercial whaling devastated the world’s biggest whale
species, pushing some of them to the very brink of extinction in the early to
mid 20th Century. Whaling for meat, oil, or whalebone was not a new
idea, but new explosive harpoons and industrialised factory
ships plundering the seas for whales had an even more catastrophic impact than
what had come in centuries before.
It was the realisation that catches were declining that led
to the creation, by whaling nations, of an organisation that would become the
‘International Whaling Commission’ (IWC).
Delegations from global governments, and representatives from
NGOs are currently on their way to Slovenia for the biennial meeting of the
International Whaling Commission meeting – so here’s a quick synopsis of what
to expect from the meeting:
Hoo-RAY! A Mobular ray leaps from the ocean after hearing about the new CITES protection for sharks.
Like it or not, around the world many species of animals are
seen as tradeable commodities – for things like food, fur, fashion or medicine.
Of course we know that historically hunting animals for commercial gain has
often been really bad news for the animals concerned. Just stop and think about
some of the most recognisable big land mammals – things like tigers, elephants
and rhinos – and it’s pretty evident what trade can do to even well-known
beasts, pushing many of them to the very brink of extinction.
The SOFIA report is a biennial publication that outlines the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture of the previous two years, hence the name. Commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (‘for a world without hunger,’ is their tagline), the report is a big deal in the world of fish. It’s considered a check up on the state of the world’s fish stocks and our consumption.
Back in July I was lucky enough to be one of 100 people who spent the day cleaning up a heavily plastic polluted beach on ‘Freedom Island’ in Manila Bay, Philippines. The beach was in an appalling state - piled high with throwaway plastic wrappers, straws and bottles which also littered the water. This was just a snapshot of the estimated 8-12 million tonnes of plastic that scientists tell us goes into our oceans every year.