Save the blue whale: in which countries are whales still being killed and why do they do it

Cetaceans are an amazing order of aquatic mammals, which includes two large suborders: Mysticeti and

Odontoceti. Whales can be monsters, like Moby Dick, or mysterious friends - like a nameless character from the movie Finding Nemo. They, good or evil, become the embodiment of the power of the ocean. But in actual fact man turns out to be a greater threat to these ocean creatures.

Whales are still in the area of ​​man-made risk. Animals get entangled in fishing nets and permanently suffer from the effects of industrial pollution of sea water. These are indirect threats to which cetaceans have to adapt. In some parts of the oceans, they are still threatened by a harpoon and a cleaver.

Blue whale

Japan, Norway and Iceland annually minedabout 1,500 whales, despite the ban on commercial fishing for these species. Explosive grenades appear in the bodies of minke whales emerging from the waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Harpoons still fall into the carcasses of southern whales, whose fishing is strictly prohibited because of the small livestock. Continuing to kill whales today, people become like past generations, completely without thinking that soon these giants may simply disappear.

How did a man hunt whales?

Whaling has existed for thousands of years: One of the first images of the whale hunting process was created 4 thousand years ago in Norway. Residents of modern Japan may have been fishing for these animals before. Speeches about whaling ships are not coming, but the first harpoons with which the whales could be finished in the shallow waters appeared before our era.

Hunting traditions vary from people to people: differently hunted whales in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Whales were both a source of food and part of cultural rituals. Extraction served as an analogue of the vitamin complex: people used meat, skin, subcutaneous fat and organs as important resources of proteins, fats and minerals. The mustache of the Mysticeti individuals went to fishing lines and baskets for storing food. The bones that could not be eaten were cleansed and became ceremonial attributes, most often ritual masks.

Scandinavians began to regularly whale the whales.approximately 800-900 AD. Later, in the XII century, the whaling industry strengthened in the Bay of Biscay, located south of the North and Norwegian Seas. For the next six centuries, it became more difficult for Europeans to find whales close to the shore. By the 18th century, the North Atlantic lost a whole population of gray whales.

European trapping technology remained quiteprimitive: the animal was driven on fast sailing ships, thrown over the usual harpoons to which the ropes were tied. The whale carcass was quickly towed to land or cut straight into the sea: the lungs of the whale fill up with water and pull the animal to the bottom. At the same time hunting with harpoons is not the only possible option for catching whales. In Japan, for example, animals became entangled in nets, which were then pulled to the shore.

Gray whale stranded

Industrialization has increased marketing figures. Whalers on steamboats were able to go further into the ocean, to track deeper-water species. Began to catch sperm whales. In 1868, Norwegian Sven Foyn created a mechanical harpoon gun. There are no "invulnerable" whales left in the world: man overtook the beast both in speed and maneuverability.

Slaughter of whales became widespread, soon populations beganto decrease. This biological unit lives in all the saline waters of the planet, and therefore its hunters are found everywhere. Gradually, the whaling ships left South Africa and the Seychelles, the Atlantic and Antarctica. Whaling began in the new territories: in the 20s of the 20th century, fishing developed in the Antarctic, where about 46 thousand individuals were caught per season. The catch limit by that time still did not exist.

1946 was the turning year for all whaling.industry. Then the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed. Zones in the Indian Ocean and around Antarctica were closed to whalers. Later, in 1982, IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling throughout the world.

By the time IWC was created, whale catch leaderswere Great Britain and Norway, followed by the USA and Holland. Then, when the Americans initiated the creation of the Commission, the rating was headed by the USSR and Japan. At the same time, before the adoption of the moratorium for the period 1961-1962, more than 66 thousand individuals were caught worldwide. Subsequently, Japan, Norway and the USSR withdrew from the IWC, having filed objections to the moratorium: countries re-joined the ban later, in the 1990s.

Southern Ocean Whale Reserve - a zone inwhich includes the waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, washing the coast of Antarctica. In it on the territory of more than 50 million square meters. km there is a gradual recovery of whale populations.

The prohibition does not include whale fishingresidents of several coasts: Chukotka, Greenland, Grenadin and Alaska. Locals catch whales in small quantities, using the same mechanisms that existed before the invention of harpoon guns. Such fishing does not harm the populations that once were endangered, according to IWC.

Fat, meat and other options to recoup whaling

Whales are amazing animals that can communicate,experience primitive emotions and live in a very simple "society". For example, humpback whales sing similar songs that can change over time - just like our everyday speech. But whalers of the past and the present do not hunt for the "rich inner world."

Humpback whale cub and his mom

Cetaceans are the only mammalsthat move in cold water across the entire oceans. They have large reserves of dense fat, concentrated throughout the body and warming the animal during travel. It was fat that was the main reason for whale hunting.

Up until the middle of the XIX century, whale oil wasnecessary for lighting, chemical industry, haberdashery production. Gradually, it was supplanted by kerosene, but the production of soap was still working at the expense of whaling.

Blubber - The result of the treatment of baleen whale fat. It is extracted from the fatty layer, bones, tissues and meat of all kinds of Mysticeti.

Now the fat parts of whale carcasses do not go ineveryday use. Fat - glyceride of fatty acid, is included in the composition of some creams, cosmetics and even colored pencils. Blubber can be the basis and nail polish, and food margarine - for hundreds of years, people have learned to make anything from whales.

Remains of a giant cauldron for dumping near the old Dutch settlement of the XVII century Smerenburg in Svalbard, Norway

Whaling was especially profitable in the XIXcentury, when from strong and elastic whalebone made luxury items: crinolines, umbrellas, whips, corsets. Today, these nets are made of steel.

Most whaling products canreplace, but no surrogate to give for whale meat. For centuries it formed the basis of the diet of the Japanese, who began to switch to chicken and other high-protein meat only in the 1960s. In the West, whale meat is hardly eaten - it is a restaurant delicacy that has never been a vital food.

Red whale meat - longitudinal muscles. Gentle in young individuals, it contains 21% protein and 8% fat. More protein in meat from the ventral grooves - 41 g and 400 kcal, respectively. For comparison, per 100 g of beef accounts for 20.1 g and 133 kcal, respectively.

Today, the annual rate of consumption of whale meat per year - 50 g per adult Japanese.

Which whales and where to go hunting?

A group of anonymous hackers in 2015 brought downservers of five government sites of Iceland. The purpose of the hacker attack is to stop the whales catching. The video, made public, broadcasts: “Whales have no voice. We will be a voice for them. The time has come to remind: we are waiting for extinction. It is time to say to Iceland: we will not stand aside. ”

But Iceland is not the only country officiallyallowing whale hunting. The practice is supported by Norway and Japan, through the waters of which flocks of some species pass. The population of these states considers catching animals barbaric, but ships continue to go to sea for huge prey.

In Iceland, minke whales andfinvalov, the latter applies to vulnerable species under the status of VU. In the same 2015, 229 minke whales and 154 fin whales were mined, exactly according to the quota set by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture.

Meat caught in Antarctic watersDelivered to Japan, where the dishes from the whales - part of the traditional cuisine. In Iceland, only tourists consume such food: about 40% order whales from restaurants. Their fishing is practically useless for Icelanders: neither whales nor finwhales do not threaten fish that Icelanders actually consume as food. But the sale will be profitable: the carcass minke is worth $ 85 thousand

Minke whales are not under threatextinction. More than 100 thousand individuals live in the waters of both hemispheres. They multiply well and quickly make up for losses. At the same time, the fin whales are under threat of extinction, and the main cause of possible dying is the unreasonably large catch of the fin whales in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Genevine Desport from the North Atlantic CommissionFishery says: "There is no reason to worry about the population in Iceland - everything is stable in the long term." How is this possible against the background of the global status of the Finval?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature evaluatesworld population of each specific species. The local population can be quite healthy and large, which allows you to catch its representatives within the quota. Today in the waters of Iceland and Greenland, about 22 thousand individuals. Approximately as many were killed in one season in 1938.

The government of Iceland finds no reasonban whaling, which serves to maintain cultural traditions and supports export. Japan adheres to the same position. The country continues to hunt whales "for research purposes", and this is allowed by the IWC.

Japanese studies do not produce results: A total of 152 publications in peer-reviewed journals since 1994. At the same time, less than half is in international resources. The rest are messages or articles in local editions in Japanese. Whales, harvested for "research", are on the restaurant plates. Moreover, the 2013 report showed that whaling does not bring profit and is subsidized by the Japanese government.

Japan is the most non-permanent member of the IWC. For the first time, the moratorium was appealed by the state in 1982, immediately after adoption, and then commercial fishing of whales either stopped or began again. The last exit from the organization took place at the end of 2018: as early as July 2019, Japan would openly resume whaling.

Today, 60% of Japanese support continuationextraction of whales, their consumption and the sale of meat for export. At the same time, the whale forms the basis of the diet, only 4% of the inhabitants, and 37% never tried whale meat at all.

The Japanese hunt for humpback whales, smallminke whales, sperm whales and gray California whales. These species are not threatened with extinction: they are classified as LC with the least probability of extinction. In the Pacific, they hunt the already vulnerable fintails and Japanese whales, representatives of the genus of southern whales (Eubalaena).

Eubalaena's close relatives are consideredbowhead whales that inhabit northern waters. In the Red Book of Russia, they are considered an endangered species, because their population in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk is constantly decreasing - scientists know about 400 individuals. At the same time, the bowhead whales once lived in the waters of the whalers, Norway and Holland record holders. Today, the view is completely pushed into the Pacific.

The third country in which whaling is allowedfishing - Norway. Today its fleet numbers 11 whaling ships: in 1950 there were 350 of them. At the same time, the maximum quota for whales is 999 individuals of any species. Whalers do not perform and half.

The presence of a large quota and a small catchdue to the decline in the popularity of whale meat and the complication of the process of extraction. Minke whales go to more northern latitudes, where whaling ships do not make their way because of the ice. Previously, animals could not reach the Arctic territories, but today, thanks to global warming, whales may be in the once icy waters.

The total number of whales caught after the moratorium was 55 thousand. Of these, 26 thousand were sold as part of a commercial catch, and Norway leads in sales - 13 thousand individuals.

Why fishing, supported not by demand, but bygovernment subsidies, continues to exist? This is an attempt to preserve the traditions that the local people themselves refuse from. The whaling industry is no longer paying off: on the market there appear analogues of goods that were once obtained only from whales. Truls Glowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway, says: “It’s worth accepting the logical conclusions of the IWC moratorium. There is no local market, no export - this is an unnecessary and outdated industry belonging to the past. They are lobbying for her, but there is no rational explanation for the killing of whales. ”

Can whales, whose hunting has already stopped, disappear?

There is no certainty that after stopping the huntendangered species, their population will recover. Approximately 400–500 individuals of the Japanese whale feed in the Russian waters, in the Bering and Okhotsk seas, and such a population cannot be considered large. The threat of final extinction appears at a time when the number of females drops below 50. The problem is that it is difficult technically and therefore financially to establish the exact number of individuals and their sex.

Scientists are guided by approximate estimates.populations, but existing forecasts can be called positive. The number of sperm whales has already returned to the level of the XVII century, the restoration of the Finval population will take another 20–40 years, and the saves that once replaced the blue whales and Fin Fells will come out of the EN class in 20–25 years.

Fading threatens the rarest and most precious blueWhales, whose minimum number of 650 individuals was recorded in 1964. Today, it is forbidden to kill them in any waters, regardless of their attitude to the IWC moratorium. Whale advocates hope that a strict ban will be extended to all cetaceans.