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Whale watching is one of the fastest growing tourist activities in Japan, which is a marked shift in the way the Japanese people think of whales — as something to observe in the water rather than on a dinner plate. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), has been keeping track and found that from 2008-2015, the last year for which ifaw had statistics, the number of whale watchers in Japan each year increased by more than 40,000, and most of these tourists are from Japan rather than foreigners who are visiting. In Iceland, where tourism has been steadily increasing since 2010, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association is concerned that bad publicity surrounding commercial whaling there offends the animal and outdoor-loving, high-spending tourists that the country is most keen to attract.
According to ifaw’s Patrick Ramage, the tide in these countries is beginning to turn. “What’s remarkable is the steady growth in the whaling countries. While their governments figure out how to climb down from whaling, citizens and tourists in Iceland, Norway and Japan are climbing aboard whale watching vessels. Animals, people and coastal economies thrive when whales are seen and not hurt,” Ramage said.
Why This Matters: Most species of whales are endangered. Robert Watson, the chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that produced the Extinction report, said “[w]e need to reduce and eliminate harmful subsidies. We really have to think about what is the economic system that will be much more sustainable in the future.” Exactly — government subsidies for non-consumptive activities like whale watching, which is a $2 billion dollar industry worldwide, are key to shifting the paradigm from consumption to conservation. Meanwhile, there are other threats to whales that need to be addressed such as ocean noise, entanglement in fishing gear and being struck by ships. Just Monday the 9th gray whale this year washed up dead in San Francisco.
What You Can Do: Sign a petition to urge the Icelandic government to put an end to commercial whaling by clicking here.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Research has found that smoke and ash from Australia’s massive 2019 and 2020 wildfires triggered widespread algal blooms thousands of miles away. The Duke University-led study reported that the phenomenon could be effective in sequestering additional carbon, but algal blooms can also be toxic and devastating to wildlife and […]
You may remember our special Earth Day interview with Friend of the Planet, Brian Skerry. Well, he’s in the news again, but this time for working on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Secrets of the Whales. The four-part series explores the complex lives of five whale species, including orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A motion rejecting deep-sea mining was largely supported by delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, currently meeting in Marseille, France. The motion calls for a moratorium on extracting minerals from deep below the ocean surface, as well as reforms for the International Seabed Authority, which is responsible for […]
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