Over the centuries whales have been killed for a number of different reasons.
In fact although the act of hunting whales is considered illegal in most countries there are still companies that look for legal loopholes in order to continue hunting these marine mammals as they look for ways to continue making a profit off of whale meat.
One loophole that is believed to be used in order to continue whaling is to state that the whales are being hunted for researching purposes, which is legal and is supposed to be used to monitor the health of the whale species so that their habitat can be improved upon and whale populations can continue to grow and prosper.
For instance if a particular species is suffering from noise pollution or chemical poisoning that research can be used to look for solutions in order to improve the ecosystem, however once the whales are captured their meat ends up being sold for a profit.
The excuse that is often used for why their meat it sold is that after conducting research selling the whales meat is the easiest way to dispose of the corpse.
While this loophole still exists today various organizations and governments are cracking down on this and declining profits are continuing to decrease the number of people involved in using this loophole to continue hunting whales.
Before whaling became illegal and whalers were able to hunt these marine mammals without any restrictions whales were hunted for many other reasons.
- Oil – Lamp oil, soap, perfume, candles and cosmetics
- Food – Cooking oil, margarine and whale meat
- Clothing – corsets and umbrellas
- and various other products including tools such as fishing hooks
It is estimated that by the 1930’s over 50, 000 whales were being killed annually and by the middle of the century many of these species were unable to recover quickly enough to repopulate their losses.
The reason for the large economic boom in the whaling industry during the 17th century was caused by significant technological advances in ships, harpoons and other whaling equipment.
In fact although whales were hunted since the B.C. era it wasn’t until the 17th century that mass whale killings began having a large impact on whale populations.
Due to this hunting period many of the whale species have become endangered causing some countries to become concerned about the condition of whales (regarding whether or not some species face the possibility of extinction) and the continued efforts of the whaling industry in certain countries that are having an impact on whale populations.
With the creation of alternative resources and the need to protect the whale species new laws were put into place to monitor and minimize the unnecessary killing of whales and in 1931 international agreements were made to begin trying to regulate the whaling industry in the hopes of preserving the endangered whale species.
In 1946 the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling was signed by a collection of countries to further enforce their new laws and agreements, and to further aid in the protection of the whale species.
Sadly it wasn’t until 1986 that the international whaling convention fully banned commercial whaling in the hopes that some species could replenish themselves.
Some of the countries that did not sign into the agreement or have since decided to decline participation have created their own policies to regulate the whaling industry in their respective countries.
Since the creation of alternative resources have largely replaced the need to hunt whales the most common reason these countries are still hunting them today is for their meat.
While many individuals, organizations and countries have been protesting the killing of whales it still remains a constant battle to get those countries and whaling industries that do not believe they are doing anything wrong to stop and this battle will likely continue for years to come.
Aside from the profit and industry based whaling efforts there are several other reasons whales are being killed including chemical pollution, noise pollution, getting trapped in fishing nets, collisions with ships and global warming.
Lastly, a small percentage of whales continue to be hunted in order to maintain a cultural heritage and is considered legal.
Small indigenous groups that have strong cultural ties with their ancestors continue to hunt whales as a source of food or to continue the culture their ancestors created.
Because this practice of hunting whales is cultural and not industry/profit based a number of countries allow these small groups to continue practicing their cultural beliefs without much interference.