Letter: If the whales die, we will all be the poorer

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The Independent Online
Sir: So that's all right then. Whales the seas over will swim easier tonight following Milton Freeman's confident assertion (Letters, 3 July) that, as they are now killed by implosive charge for food, the whalers can carry on.

However, the professor would do well to study the subject of Jonathan Keates's review, not the review itself. One depressingly obvious conclusion emerges from Richard Ellis's exhaustive history of man's relationship with the whale (Men and Whales), and that is that there has never been such a thing as a regulated and sustainable whale fishery. From the earliest records to the latter part of this century, as Ellis demonstrates, the history of the whaling industry has been dominated by short-term greed and environmental insensitivity. Whale populations have been found, exploited and exhausted in rapid succession, leaving only token populations in most cases (and sometimes not even that).

Your reviewer's conclusion is, therefore, vindicated by the historical evidence. For the whale, almost nothing has changed. The tragedy is that, along with the blue, fin, sei, humpback and other threatened species, we ourselves are threatened by the whalers' attitudes.

Sadly, Japan, Norway, Iceland and Professor Freeman do not seem to understand that, if commercial whaling is resumed, all precedence indicates that there will very shortly be no whale meat to exercise individual choice upon - and we will all be the poorer.

Yours faithfully,

IAN BUXTON

Edinburgh

4 July

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