Whaling Today!?

As an English speaker, this probably sounds like an oxymoron. Chances are good that you are not a fan of killing whales. There was a time when they were hunted widely, but that ship sailed long ago – now we save whales, not catch them.

Yet there are a number of countries and indigenous groups that still actively hunt whales today. The arguments against whaling are well known, and accepted in much of the western world. They basically fall into two groups – moral(whales deserve protection because they are special) and environmental(whales deserve protection because they are rare). 

There are also a set of arguments on the other side of the debate, in support of whaling. These are less known in the west, where they are often rejected as trivial or outdated. Arguments in favor of whaling generally tend to be cultural(whaling is part of a community’s identity) and focused on sustainability(whaling is possible without dire environmental effects). 

In much of the world, this debate was decided decades ago, in favor of banning most or all whaling. But there still exists a large group of scientists, scholars, chefs, artists, everyday citizens, and of course whalers, who are staunchly in support, although they are rarely heard in the English world. The purpose of this website is to present, in a clear and understandable way, their arguments in support of whaling, supplemented with voices from the anti-whaling side.

When I was asked to edit and write for this website, I hesitated. As a long-time journalist and budding scholar, I didn’t want to be part of a propaganda effort. But I learned long ago that it is impossible to be truly “neutral” or “unbiased.” The best we can do is be aware of our own biases, and listen to those who have a different set.

This website is supported by the Cetacean Research Institute and Japan Forward, the English-language website of the Sankei Shimbun.

Jay Alabaster, October 2019