In the contemporary world where new harmful environmental impacts keep occurring almost every day such issues as the endangerment of species are treated very seriously by the international community and the environmental activists. Whales are one of the species that today faces rapid reduction of population. This is why a number of conservation and preservation plans concerning this subject have been worked out and implemented all around the world.
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Whales are fascinating creatures. They live throughout the world in the oceans surrounding every continent. Their sizes, features, and physical capacities are impressive. They are underwater animals, yet they breathe air, they are livebearers. Whales are warm-blooded mammals that inhabit the oceans. Today, whales face a number of threats reducing their population. Some of them are the global warming, water pollution, oil spills, noise that disrupts mating behaviors, and danger of fishing bycatch. Several international policies have been developed in order to preserve the numbers of whales. For example, whale products are banned from international trade; besides, commercial whaling is under a moratorium (Threats, 2015).
Nowadays, there is an International Whaling Commission (IWC) that includes a variety of countries all around the world. IWC was founded to protect whales dwelling in all of the oceans. Every year, millions of dollars are spent to conduct a non-lethal whale research and to work out conservation programs. Among the conservation initiatives there are research directed at the identification and minimization of anthropogenic factors harming whales, monitoring of the number of whales inhabiting various areas, and legal protection of whales.
Ever since the international trade of whale products was forbidden and commercial whaling faced a moratorium, some of the species of endangered whales slowly started to go into recovery and re-gain the numbers. At the same time, some of the whales still face extinction due to such factors as “scientific” whaling, cultural and traditional habits of certain populations of humans, loss of natural habitat, and acoustic disturbance. A Standing Working Group has been created within the IWC to design and implement Conservation Management Plans. Currently, three of such plans are being worked on for the implementation. They are designed to protect the population of the gray whales in the west of the Northern Pacific, and the populations of the southern right whales around the South America’s western and eastern coasts (Conservation Management Plans, 2015). The plans are designed based on pre-approved templates and the description of funding principles and practices required for the successful implementations of the plans.
The conservation and preservation of the endangered species of whales living in the oceans all around the world is complicated by a number of challenges. The main challenge is based on different opinions and approaches practiced by the representatives of various cultures in reference to whaling. First of all, even though the majority of the countries agree that whaling should be prohibited, there is a minority that supports the opposite point of view. It turns out that culturally some of the nations cannot give up whaling as it has been a part of their historical development and traditions. Among the countries that have been the focus of the world’s attention concerning the approval of whaling are Japan and Iceland.
These countries support whaling and frequently practice it. Even though international trade of whaling products is not allowed, the countries that still hunt whales sell the products on the domestic markets where they are rather popular. For example, in Japan there are websites that sell whale jerky (Keating, 2014). One more issue for the IWC is the so-called “scientific whaling”. Officially, whaling for the purposes of scientific research is allowed, yet this allowance was grated fifty years ago, when there were no better ways of research than the ones requiring killing of the animals (Threats, 2015). Today, the technologies allow more humane methods of data collection; this is why masking commercial whaling as scientific research should no longer be permitted.
The world’s society of nowadays is divided according to the attitude towards whaling. The majority of countries support the preservation of whales as endangered species, while there are still several individual states that would not stop the practice of whaling for various reasons. Mainly, their perspective relies on cultural customs and traditions that run in the histories of the countries. This especially concerns island countries such as Japan and Iceland. Today, membership in IWC is available for any country of the world, and the majority of IWC members have absolutely no interest in whaling for commercial purposes. Yet, the votes of members are often divided, for example landlocked countries such as Mongolia and Malawi support whaling. Often such decisions do not reflect true opinions of the members, but the fact that their votes were bought by other states for certain profits (Keating, 2014).
A number of activists today protect cetacean species such as whales or dolphins because there is a belief that these mammals possess exceptional intellect. This is why many individuals demand that whales should be provided with a number of benefits granted to humans and some other animals of high intelligence.
Conservation Management Plans. (2015). IWC. Web.
Keating, J. (2014). The Weird World of International Whaling Rules. Web.
Threats. (2015). WorldWildLife. Web.