Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Re-telling the Soviet Harpoon Race

Richard Black blogs on BBC's Earthwatch. Yesterday's title caught my eye.

Re-telling the Soviet Harpoon Race answers the question about "what happened to the whales". It is worth reading for two reasons. First it explains why, for years, quotas and bans and moratoria on whaling had no results. The USSR ignored the rules, falsified records, lied to the IWC* and killed everything that crossed the paths of their whaling factory ships. Secondly, an article reference in the blog gives an insight to life in post-Stalinist USSR, as it describes the illegal slaughter of whales from the viewpoint of a maverick biologist on board a whaling factory ship.

"But rarely has it been told as well as it has this week, in an article [pdf link] by Phil Clapham and Yulia Ivashchenko in Marine Fisheries Review, the US journal. If you're not familiar with the story, reading their article will be 15 minutes of your time well spent; if you are familiar with it, well, it's worth a read anyway".

*The International Whaling Commission was established in 1946 because it was obvious by then that the world's stocks of some species of whales were being hunted to extinction and some form of quota system was necessary to both conserve whales and preserve the whaling industry.

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