According to an article in the World Economic Forum, in the 1800s, whaling had caught on in Melville’s home country and whale oil for lighting lamps became a multi-million dollar industry until fossil fuels took over in popularity. Commercial whaling hit its peak in the early 1900s. Between 1904 and 1916 it’s estimated nearly 25,000 WSA humpbacks were caught around South Georgia. A total of 2 million whales were killed in the Southern Ocean during the 20th century, TWO MILLION. In response to depleting numbers of cetaceans, including the near-extinction of the blue whale, several countries came together to sign the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and establish a global body to manage whaling.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) currently has 88 members and its role has grown to tackle conservation issues including bycatch and entanglement, ocean noise, pollution and debris, collisions between whales and ships, and sustainable whale watching. Members of the IWC agreed to ‘pause’ commercial whaling to allow whale numbers to recover, and the moratorium began in 1986. The global trade of whale products was banned and quotas were set for subsistence whaling to support indigenous communities. Special permits were given to allow ‘scientific’ whaling, which countries including Japan continued to do. But the WWF says six out of the 13 baleen whale species are still endangered. The North Atlantic right whale is critically endangered, with numbers dropping from 524 in 2015 to 412 in 2018. As climate change causes its migration patterns to shift, the species is more at risk from collisions with ships as well as lethal entanglement in fishing gear.
Earlier this year, Japan left the IWC and has resumed commercial whaling in its waters, saying hunting and eating whale meat is part of the nation’s culture. If you ask me is just another lazy excuse for brainless 'traditions' that will only cause humanity to crash! #ShameOnJapanForWhaleHunting