South Korea Plans To Resume Whaling

By Amir Khan on July 5, 2012 9:51 AM EDT

Whale
South Korea plans to resume hunting whales for research, officials announced on Thursday. (Photo: Creative Commons)

South Korea plans to resume hunting whales for research, officials announced on Thursday. The move immediately drew protests from non-whaling nations and environmental groups who say the government is hunting whale meat under the guise of research.

"In order to meet Korean fishermen's request and make up for the weak point in a non-lethal sighting survey, the Korean government is currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research in accordance with Article VII of the Convention," Kang Jong-suk, South Korea's delegate to the international commission, said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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South Korea announced their plans to the International Whaling Commission on Thursday. The whaling would study the types and amount of fish whales eat, as South Korean fisherman complain that whales are consuming large amounts of their fish stocks. The IWC permits whale hunting for scientific hunting, but some groups feel the research is disingenuous.  

"We believe this move is a thinly veiled attempt by Korea to conduct commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, similar to hunts conducted by Japan in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," Wendy Elliott, head of global environmental group World Wildlife Federation, said, according to the Associated Press.

Japan claims its whale hunting is for research, but whale meat frequently turns up in restaurants and grocery stores. South Korean officials said they have not determined what they will do with the whale meat after the research.

World leaders quickly decried South Korea's plan.

"We think it would be a terrible step in the wrong direction," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said.

"We are completely opposed to whaling, there's no excuse for scientific whaling," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

South Korea banned whaling in 1986 but still allows the sale of meat from whales accidentally caught in nets.  Since the ban, meat consumption in South Korea has dwindled. 

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