Animal Welfare: The Illegal Whaling Industry

Animal Welfare: The Illegal Whaling Industry

Damaris Daniel

The goal of Corporate Social Responsibility is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. However, many company’s fail to uphold their obligations to the greater good of the world around them.

Corporate social responsibility on animal welfare has been one of the most controversial topics in Asia. Japanese whaling has been a major lobbying issue and many companies such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have taken steps to bring awareness to these issues. One of the largest controversies is the promotion of wild whale meat being sold in Japanese markets and being chemically stored to preserve the decomposing meat so that it can be resold to restaurants around the globe.

According to Richard Welford of corporate social responsibility Asia he describes in his article the promotion of whale meat in Japanese supermarkets. Despite the argument that most Japanese consumers are environmentally friendly, in one supermarket whale meat was stacked up in the window that only sells whale products. However, this shows that Japanese storeowners are not as environmentally conscience as they seem to be.

Another case of illegal wild meat has shown up in hundreds of restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Many chefs were found using whale meat in their dishes, experts warn that the chemicals used to preserve these meats are extremely hazardous to the health of humans. The Japanese Whaling Hunts can last for long periods of time and often carcasses are stored for between one or two days before being sold to illegal traders at the jungle edge.

Trafficking wild animal meat is also illegal in many countries around the world, two men were arrested on suspicion of selling panther meat on the black market and storing crocodile, seven monitor lizards, 16kg of venison, 70 live pythons and three dead python meat also to be sold on the black market.

Whaling and the unfair treatment of animals has infuriated activists, that many have taken direct action to stop theses Japanese whaling boats from hunting and killing whales. According to corporate social responsibility in Asia the militant environmental group Sea Shepherd has threatened to ram boats Into the Japanese whaling fleets, if they resumed slaughtering any animals. Paul Watson the captain of Sea Shepherd Ship said that his team felt empowered to ram the boats because of the global opposition to japans plan to kill 1,000 whales.

Greenpeace is another ship team that has stopped the fleet of Japanese boats form catching and killing whales. Greenpeace says they feel and obligation to stop the killing of the Whale and preservation of animals. The PETA organization has set out to bring awareness to other countries around the world such as Australia and Indonesia to educate the people on understanding where their food is coming from and also how it is being processed.

The way food is processed and sold is an on going epidemic in all parts of the world, everyday we here in America eat tons of chicken and other kinds of meat that we don’t know how it is being handled and often enough we really don’t care to know, as long as we are getting what we want we are not concerned with how our food has been processed.

According to the Washington post a DNA test found whale meat illegally served in United States restaurants from Japan. Last year whale meat was served in two upscale sushi restaurants in Los Angeles and Seoul according to the DNA testing it confirmed that the meat came from whales killed as part of Japans scientific whaling hunt.

Fourteen years ago a global ban was placed on whaling however, Japan has courted controversy for years by invoking an exception in the ban for scientific research and by sending out the whaling fleet that harpoons several hundred whales a year. The fleet brings home tons of thousands of whale meat, which is sold across japan and in the black market but cannot legally be sold to buyers in the United States or South Korea.

What has proven to be an even bigger embarrassment to the Japanese government, is that the reviewed DNA analysis suggest that the distribution of whale meat may be haphazardly managed and that the meat could be flowing into an international smuggling network.  The analysis showed that two pieces of whale meat sold last October in The Hump, a Los Angeles area restaurant were identical to whale products purchased in Japan in 2007 and 2008, according to a paper by an 11 member group of scientists and conservationists from the United States, south Korea and japan.  The authors of the article said the meat came from set whale killed in the North pacific during a Japanese scientific hunt.

In Los Angeles last month, The Hump publicly apologized and closed its doors after federal prosecutors charged its owner and principal chef with the illegal sale of a marine mammal product.  The DNA analysis also matched fin-whale meat served last year in the Seoul restaurant to fin whale products sold in Japan. Japan killed thirteen fin whales between 2005 and 2008, and it is highly likely the meat purchased in South Korea and Japan came from the same whale, according to the journal Biology Letters, published by the London based royal society.

The illegal trade of products from protected species of whales presumably taken under a national permit for scientific research is a timely reminder of the need for independent transparent and robust monitoring of any future whaling. The authors of the journal biology letters also included scientist’s input from Oregon State University and the National Marine Fisheries service.

What many activist want to know is why would anyone want to kill whales? “Whaling and whale cuisine are part of Japanese culture, but the purpose of the research program is science,” said Dan Goodman, councilor to Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research. Japan says its hunt is too small to affect the whale population. “The fact that the whale meat – which we call by-product – is sold is because the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling specifically requires that the by-product of research be processed. “It is a legally binding obligation. “The ultimate aim of the research, he said, was a properly managed resumption of commercial whaling. “It is just like any fisheries – tuna, salmon, for example – the proper way to conduct the fisheries is to do the science to work out how best to manage the resources.”Mr. Goodman rejected criticism that the same research data could be obtained using non-lethal techniques. However, the increase in technology provides evidence that data can be collected without the killing of whales.

According to the Animal Welfare Act that was signed into law in 1966. It is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard. However, many companies find ways to not comply with the law although enforced by the USDA, APHIS.

Many institutes have made a point to study animal welfare to preserve animal wild life. According to animal welfare institute humans threaten wildlife through harassment, habitat degradation, encroachment and destruction, cruel and irresponsible hunting and trapping, capture and killing for profit, incidental poisoning and vehicle strikes, and culling. AWI works to safeguard wild animals and their habitats, and minimize or eliminate the impacts of detrimental human actions. We urge governments and other policymakers to halt or prevent damaging actions by calling for better enforcement of wildlife protection laws, promoting severe penalties for wildlife criminals, and supporting increased funding for federal land and wildlife management agencies. We advocate for humane solutions to human-wildlife conflicts, and engage and educate the public on ways to help wildlife.

Institutes such as Animal Welfare (AWI) work to prevent commercial exploitation of threatened and endangered species by fighting for enforcement against poachers, smugglers, and dishonest animal dealers. We are actively involved in monitoring and contesting unsustainable or inhumane trade in wildlife, including through our participation in meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help ensure that international trade in wildlife does not threaten species with extinction.

Animal testing is also a big issue that activist focus on preventing, Animal welfare organizations such as, AWI has worked to foster better care and handling of animals in research facilities by encouraging laboratory personnel to provide the animals with comfortable housing with conspecifics; veterinary treatment including pain relief; and the opportunity to engage in species-typical behaviors – while sparing them needless suffering.  Animal Welfare Institute supports Russell and Burch’s “3R’s”which is the Replacement of animals in research with alternatives; Reduction in the number of animals used in experiments; and Refinement of the care and treatment of the animals who continue to be used in research, testing and education.

Animal Welfare Institute provides funding to laboratory personnel to conduct research focused on improving the housing and handling of animals in research, and has been at the forefront of efforts to provide nonhuman primates with social housing which addresses their behavioral needs to the greatest extent possible. Animal Welfare Institute is a strong proponent of teaching animals to cooperate during routine procedures rather than using stress-inducing removal from the home cage and forced restraint.

Preserving Wild life and insuring the fair treatment of animals is societies obligation. Society has to help preserve the whales so that generations to come are able to know and see what beautiful creatures they are in their natural habitats. Activist have to keep exposing the corruption enshrined in Japan’s whaling industry. Recent DNA evidence shows that the impact of commercial whaling may be even worse than previously thought. Most estimates of historic whale population size have been extrapolated from old whaling figures.

Activist believe that society is unaware of the systematic concern when it comes to animal welfare because people are ignorant to the fact that non-human animals are sentient meaning they have the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences as humans can. So consideration should be given to the well being of animals.

How these animals are killed for food, how they are used for scientific research, how they are kept as pets, and how human activities affect the survival of endangered species.  The issues at hand are what we have to correct! How do we rectify these issues one might ask? It is how we fixed other issues facing our society; we educate ourselves on the problem and bring awareness to those who have not yet educated themselves.  Learning how to make more environmentally friendly fabrics choices and learning about the foods we consume. Is the only way for us to become more aware of the things that are affected by our selfish choices?

Former Iron chef and restaurant owner Mario Batali has turned his coat in and joined up with the radical environmental fringe. Batali now publicly endorses the Meatless Monday campaign and applies this philosophy to his restaurants. Back in 2003 his staff discovered that the Meatless Monday campaign has originated with Helaine Lerner, a New York socialite who has ties to plenty of animal-rights, anti-meat and “sustainable” agriculture propaganda.

In 2000 a Lerner fund gave $546,000 to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, a program that targets modern farming methods in the name of the environment. Lerner, funding and foundation has also given millions to a group called Global Resource Action Center for the Environment. Although these campaigns are insightful the biggest problems that one might face is that it legitimizes activist propaganda that people might otherwise reject. When it comes to the case of Meatless Monday, the underlying assumption is that meat is bad for your health and the environment. However needless to say that it’s not factual or credible but it can be if you’re being feed illegal decomposing meat.

Whaling is no longer the only threat to whales. The oceans, or rather, human impacts on the oceans, have changed dramatically over the half-century since whales have been protected. Known environmental threats to whales include global warming, pollution, overfishing, ozone depletion, noise such as sonar weaponry, and ship strikes. Industrial fishing threatens the food supply of whales and also puts whales at risk of entanglement in fishing gear. If you’re thinking of eating whale, you might want to think again – the blubber of dead whales in some areas is so highly contaminated with Organochlorines such as PCBs and pesticides that it would be classified as toxic waste!

According to Greenpeace Organochlorines are known to damage development of children and affect reproduction. Despite these accumulating threats, an increasing number of nations in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) are voting for an immediate resumption of commercial whaling. Some new and enthusiastic members of the IWC include Benin, Gabon, Tuvalu and Nauru. Obviously, these new memberships and voting numbers do not reflect a change in world opinion. These countries have all been recruited to join the IWC and vote under what is termed a “vote consolidation program”by the Fisheries Agency of Japan.

However, If society fails to address these lobbying issues of the Japanese killing whales and illegally selling their meat to restaurants in other countries for a profit and calling it scientific research. How are we going to preserve our wild life? Also, wearing fur and minx skin as coats we are only adding to the problems not educating ourselves on knowing that theses animals feel too.

Animals are a major group of multicellular organisms they understand the fight for survival. We as humans have a duty to society, to preserve the planet and the organisms that make up the world because we are the ones that are using up the limited resources that are left.

Expectations for the recovery of the whale populations have been based on the assumption that, except for commercial whaling, their place in the oceans is as secure as it was a hundred years ago. Sadly, this assumption is no longer valid. This is why we believe that commercial whaling in all forms must be stopped.

Whaling and the unfair treatment of animals is not going to help us preserve the animal wild life. It has to be part of Corporate Social Responsibility to take action and an encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholdersand all other members of the public sphere.

We cannot allow for animal life to diminish at the hands of our bad choices and selfishness.  Although life has a food chain and each organism has to eat the other in order to survive. We as humans have taken the food chain too far, animals shouldn’t be kept in cages and feed fatty foods so that they become obsessed to the point of death.

Societies frown upon the thought of children being mistreated, and kept as sweat shop kids to sew garments at the age of seven years old. All of these lobbying issues are under the umbrella of corporate Social Responsibility and we have to find ways to take more action when it comes to standing up for what is right in society and not letting animals suffer at the hands of so called science.

For more information on AWI and the Sea Shepherd visit the following links.


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