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People have been hunting whales since ancient times. In the 18th and 19th centuries whaling was on its peak and different products made of whale meat, teeth, oil, baleen and ambergris were sold. This led to commercialization of whale hunting and in the middle of the 20th century whales were on the brink of extinction. The international community decided that it was necessary to impose strict legislation ban on whale hunting, and nowadays commercial whaling is prohibited in the majority of countries.
Whales are considered to be clever animals. They have self-consciousness, their cognitive abilities are similar to those of the chimpanzee, and they live in communities. They are mammals, they give birth to their offsprings like people do and take care of them until their “adulthood”. All these characteristics support the idea that whale hunting is extremely cruel, regardless the process of killing them.
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The process usually strikes even those people, who do not seem to care much about animals. The slaughter is performed with the help of harpoons, which are fired from the ships. The weather conditions are often not very good and the harpooners cannot kill the whale at the first attempt. People can shoot several harpoons into the body of the animal until it dies. The harpoons have penthrite grenades that penetrate the body of the whale approximately to twelve inches. Then they explode in the flesh and release protrusions that have the claw form. The whale can die from the brain wave shock, laceration or the trauma.
In all cases, the animal suffers greatly from the pain during the slaughter. The whales may suffer from the harpoons for an hour and the hunters cannot kill them. Sometimes they manage to kill the animal with the help of guns. In other cases they drag the animal by the tail and do it until the whale drown (Animal Welfare Institute, n.d.). In the documentary videos that picture whale hunting, the whales lie in the shallow waters and the ocean around them is red from their blood. The hunters stab them with their knives and if the whales are still alive, they die in the process from bleeding or drowning in their own blood.
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As it was mentioned earlier, whale hunting is officially illegal, but the law is not always considered by those, who want to do their gray business. In 1986, an international moratorium on whaling was ratified by the International Whaling Commission. Since then the products made of whales cannot be sold on the international level according to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. The International Whaling Commission set the safe zones for whales, where they cannot be killed. They are located in the Antarctic waters and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (International Whale Protection Organization, n.d.).
In some countries, the prohibition of commercial whale hunting is not given the deserved attention. Japan is one of such countries; there whales are killed on a regular basis. The hunting is particularly cruel in this region, because the Japanese harpooners do not try to strike the animal's head area, and the whales die after sufferings for hours. A number of international legislative organizations have accused Japan of constantly violating all possible international treaties concerning whale hunting. According to the Australian Federal Court the activity of the Japanese whale hunters is illegal, as they kill the animals on the Antarctic Territory that belongs to Australia. The Australian court has filed a law suit about constant violations to the International Court of Justice. The European Union also struggles for the rights of whales and makes all possible attempts to stop Iceland from hunting these animals. The International Court always rulees that such law violations must be ceased, but the overall situation has not changed for years (Animal Welfare Institute, n.d.).
Despite the legislative ban on whaling, some of the indigenous people who have been traditionally hunting whales, can do it to satisfy their everyday needs. In general, the amount of whales killed for subsistence needs is minimal, especially comparing to poaching. The right of aborigines who traditionally hunt whales for nutritional needs is mentioned in the thirteenth paragraph of ICRW, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (Animal Welfare Institute, n.d.). Such indigenous people live in the United States, the Russian Federation, Bequians of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Greenland.
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Whale meat is not an indispensable part of nutrition in the developed countries that are well known for pirate hunting of whales, among which are Japan, Iceland and Norway. Only a small percent of their population use whale meat as food. The biggest part of it is used as animal feed, soil fertilizer or is stored in freezers. Some products are positioned as a luxury meal in local restaurants.
Despite the number of international legislations and moratoriums that prohibit whaling, pirate hunting is still quite popular in some countries, especially in Japan, Norway and Iceland. They keep violating all rules set by the international organizations and courts that do not allow to kill whales on the commercial basis. The situation is quite ambiguous, because from one point of view, the international community does not allow to do it, but from another point of view, it can do nothing against pirate hunters. Some people still continue killing these big and clever animals to feed the richest part of gourmands, who prefer not to think about the sufferings a whale went through, when it was lying for hours, dying from harpoons.
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