South Korean environmentalists perform in front of a mock whale during a rally against government's policy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday. South Korea plans to resume hunting whales for research purposes, officials said Thursday, drawing immediate protests from non-whaling nations and environment groups that suspect the plans may be a cover for commercial whaling. AP
The United States says it doesn't support a
South Korean plan to restart whale hunting for purportedly scientific purposes.
South Korea made public its intention to revive whaling at
the annual meeting this week of the International Whaling Commission in Panama.
Russell F. Smith, deputy assistant secretary for
International Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
said Thursday the U.S. didn't believe that killing whales is necessary for
scientific research, and he added that the South Koreans wanted to hunt Minke
whales, which are in danger of extinction.
A number of countries assert their right to carry out
whaling for scientific purposes, although the whale meat and other products are
often sold for food, leading environmental groups to label the research as a
pretext for hunting. The whaling commission is charged with helping global
whale populations recover from decades of hunting that pushed many species
close to extinction, but it allows whales to be caught for scientific research.
Korean officials said that they wanted to study the whales'
fish consumption because of fishing industry complaints that the growing whale
population is reducing stocks of fish. Smith said South Korea could study
whales that are accidentally caught in fishermen's nets, and additional hunting
Smith said South Korea would present a formal proposal at
next year's meeting.
Meanwhile, the International Whaling Commission rejected a
request from Denmark for a whaling quota for indigenous groups in Greenland.
The commission voted 34-25 to reject the request for a quota
of 1,300 whales over the next six years.
The Thursday vote by the commission comes two days after it
approved the renewal of bowhead whale quotas for indigenous subsistence whaling
in Alaska and Russia and for St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.
The six-year extension was approved at the IWC's annual meeting in Panama City.