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Whilst I don't support the idea that individuals who live in the oceans are "overfished", I do support information that helps us to understand that whales, other cetaceans, fishes and all those who live in the oceans are dying and being killed due to the practices of humans in a far more broader context than simply "whaling" and "research". We are all responsible for the awful state of the world's oceans, and the commodification and exploitation therein, and I think it's time we took this situation seriously, and stopped blaming a very small percentage of people for the situation many of us are equally responsible for. 

No Longer a Target, Whales Are Collateral Damage

Written by Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan.


The whaling industry has changed beyond recognition since 1970, when 39,000 whales a year were being killed. In 2012, the worldwide total was 1,000. But far more whales are dying every year because of human activities, and the problems that caused whale populations to plummet worldwide are now affecting fish. 

The oceans have changed in the last 50 years, becoming more polluted, more acidic and much, much more heavily fished. Many marine ecologists think that the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. Our appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits, with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. Scientists are warning that overfishing results in profound changes in our oceans, perhaps changing them forever.

Our appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits, and all this fishing kills 300,000 cetaceans a year.

Populations of top predators, often the most valuable fish as well as a key indicator of ecosystem health, are disappearing, which can cause a shift in entire oceans ecosystems in which commercially valuable fish are replaced by smaller, plankton-feeding fish. This century may even see bumper crops of jellyfish, replacing the fish consumed by humans.

Overfishing also threatens the whales. Scientists working with the International Whaling Commission estimate that 300,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) die each year by entanglement in fishing gear. Ships strikes, pollution, ocean noise and climate change bring additional threats.

Here in Japan, the demand for whale products has almost disappeared. Our per-capita consumption of whale meat is down to one ounce a year, and the consumers are overwhelmingly middle aged or elderly. Whale meat offered at wholesale auctions has sometimes attracted no bids at all and been sent back to cold storage. 

Whaling is dying out, but the threats to whales remain real and urgent and apply to all of the ocean’s creatures, not just to its biggest ones. To save the whales, we need to restore the health of our oceans.

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