Letter: Whaling for food

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The Independent Online
Sir: Jonathan Keates's review (24 June) of the book Men and Whales contained seriously misleading conclusions. After mentioning various historical aspects of commercial whaling, Mr Keates concludes 'for the whale, almost nothing has changed'. On the contrary, whales today are certainly not killed by sulphuric acid nor by primitive explosive harpoons, nor are whales being killed for corset stays, riding whips, bootlaces or lamp oil.

Since the mid-Eighties, whales are ordinarily killed by a powerful implosive charge rendering the whale unconscious, if not killed outright.

The principal purpose of whaling today is to provide human food for certain societies, not luxury food (despite being constantly and erroneously represented as such by anti-whaling campaigners).

Not everyone, worldwide, wants to eat beef or broilers; providing that whale harvesting can be regulated and is sustainable, then whaling appears to offer a less environmentally damaging, higher quality source of meat than any meat-producing system yet devised. If people don't wish to eat whale meat, they can exercise their individual choice and not buy it.

Yours faithfully,


University of Strathclyde


24 June