South Korea fishermen cheat on whale killing
May 9, 2007
Fishermen in South Korea are killing far more whales than they claim, reports an article in New Scientist Magazine. DNA fingerprinting of whale meat purchased in local markets suggests that South Korea caught 827 minke whales between 1999 and 2003, well above the 458 they reported.
“Given that a single minke whale can fetch up to $100,000, there is a strong financial incentive for fishermen to entangle whales in their nets,” wrote Peter Aldhous, author of the New Scientist Magazine article.
“We suspect this is really a form of unregulated commercial whaling,” Scott Baker, a marine biologist at Oregon
State University and lead author of the Molecular Ecology study, told New Scientist Magazine.
Annual whale harvest from 2001-2006 (2006 figures are not complete). Graph by mongabay.com, data from Science, background image courtesy of R. Wicklund OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP); University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Baker found that the average “half-life” of meat from an individual whale in South Korean markets is 1.82 months, suggesting that monitoring for illegal meat should be conducted every two months.
South Korea, along with Japan, have balked at further whaling restrictions. Earlier this year, Japan announced that it plans to kill 50 humpback whales, 50 fin whales, and more than 900 fin whales in the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 2007.