WHY WHALING IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
Whaling is when people hunt whales for meat, oil, and other things. This has had a big impact on the number of whales in the world’s oceans. Many countries still take part in commercial whaling.
HOW WHALING AFFECTS THE ENVIRONMENT
Loss of Marine Biodiversity
- The sea dies without whales. They help other aquatic animals in so many ways. For one thing, whale excrement (poop) is full of nutrients that make the ocean more fertile.
- These nutrients help phytoplankton grow bigger and stronger. Phytoplankton are microscopic plant life free-floating in water that plays a big role in the ecosystems of the sea. Many animals that live in the sea eat phytoplankton.
- The Phytoplankton are also important to larger animals in the sea. Basically, the larger animals feed on the small animals that eat the Phytoplankton. These tiny plants are vital for the ocean food chain. Overall, there will be less food in the ocean if there are no whales to help create the food for phytoplankton.
- This will cut down on the number of phytoplankton and marine animals. Endangered species are also at risk of dying out. This means there will be less biodiversity.
Increased Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Levels
- The release of gasses like carbon dioxide is bad for the planet. CO2 buildup in the Earth’s atmosphere is the main reason for global warming and changes in the climate.
- Whales take in a lot of CO2 from the air over the course of their lives, according to research. CO2 capture is the name of this process.
- For a very long time, whales store carbon dioxide in their bodies. This is important to reduce CO2 in the environment. Whales that die sink to the bottom of the ocean and release their CO2.
- The CO2 is then released into the depths of the ocean, where it stays for a long time. This process helps cut down on the amount of CO2 in the air, which helps stop the greenhouse effect.
Disruption of the Nutrient Cycle
- Whales don’t just add nutrients to the ocean. They also move the nutrients around.
- At great depths, some whale species eat Consequently, when they go foraging in the ocean, they have to dive down to the bottom of the water to get their food. The movement to and from the seafloor circulates nutrients in the ocean.
- Marine animals that live near the surface of the ocean get food when nutrients move around. Thus, whales help them get the food they need
- Whales also keep the water level even, which makes all of the oceans habitable for aquatic animals.
(Research from the UN Environment Programme)
HOW DOES WHALING AFFECT THE ECONOMY
When a country hunts whales, it hurts the country’s economy:
- Reduced tourism: Many countries depend on whale watching tourism as a source of revenue. If whale populations decline due to whaling, it can lead to fewer opportunities for tourists to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitats, which can result in a decline in tourism and related economic activity.
- Damage to fishing industries: Whales play an important role in marine ecosystems, and their decline can have ripple effects throughout the food chain. For example, if whales are over-harvested, it could lead to declines in fish populations that support commercial fisheries.
- Negative public perception: Many people around the world view whaling as an unnecessary and cruel practice, which could harm the reputation of countries that continue to engage in whaling activities. This negative perception could discourage investment or tourism from individuals who oppose whaling.
HOW DID WHALING START?
Humans have been hunting whales for their blubber and meat for a long time. They have thick layers of fat on their skin called “blubber.” It keeps them warm even when the water is very cold. (Research From Britanica)
- Whales were first hunted for money by the Basques in the 11th century.
- In the past, whales were mostly killed for their blubber, but now they are mostly killed for meat. It has a lot of oil, which was used to make lamps.
- The early whalers hunted the North Atlantic right whale to the brink of extinction. Currently, there are less than 366 North Atlantic right whales in the ocean.
- Between the 17th century and the 20th century, there was a lot of big-scale whaling in the world.
- Steamships let whalers catch a lot of whales at once.
- Countries from all over the world hunted whales for trade. The British, the Americans, the Dutch, the Germans, and other countries helped the whale population go down.
- Commercial whaling is still going on in a few places.
- The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is in charge of the protection of all whale species in countries that belong to it.
WHICH COUNTRIES DO WHALING?
People still hunt whales, but not like they used to. This has led to a rise in the number of some whale species. It hurts the whale population when some countries do business with whale hunting. (Research from World Population Review)
- Iceland is one of the few countries that hunt whales for money. Because it is not a member of the IWC, it has its own rules about whaling.
- It is mostly meat that whalers in Iceland hunt for. The minke whale and fin whale are the most affected whale species in this region.
The United States of America
- Whaling is only done in Alaska. There are also some whale-watching not-for-profit companies in this state.
- Native Alaskans hunt whales for food, so no money is made. Also, the United States is a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
- The Faroe Islands are made up of a group of small islands in the Atlantic Ocean that are close together. It is a separate country, but it is still part of Denmark.
- People from the Faroe Islands hunt whales for food, just like Alaskans do, in order to stay alive. In this area, whale meat is not sold to people.
- Commercial whaling goes on in Japan because the country’s whaling industry is not run by the IWC.
- The commonly caught whale species in Japan include Bryde’s whale, sei, and minke. Sei whales are considered endangered due to their now low numbers in the wild.
- Each year, hundreds of whales are killed in Norway to make money. Most of the money the fishing industry makes comes from the sale of whale products.
- The number of whales killed each year is more than the number set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
SHOULD ALL WHALING BE STOPPED?
Some argue that whale hunting for commercial or any other reason should stop in every part of the world, no matter where it is. There are a lot of whale species that are at risk, endangered, or critically endangered.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) plays a big part in making sure whales are safe. However, the number of whales around the world is still very low. Whales are important for the health of marine ecosystems and the planet, so we should make efforts to protect them.
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