What Is Whale Conservation?

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  • Written By: Patrick Lynch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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Whale conservation involves protecting not only whales, but dolphins, porpoises and other forms of cetaceans. The main problem addressed by whale conservation activists is that of excessive hunting. Various laws have been passed which culminated with commercial hunting being made illegal. There are communities that have been spared this ban, however, with the understanding that they stay within a quota. Whale conservation also involves preserving the quality of the sea water with companies being forbidden from dumping their industrial waste into the ocean.

The idea of whale conservation originally came about because fishermen were hunting the whales too aggressively and causing the population of whales to fall dramatically. Although there were some tenuous agreements between governments to reduce the level of hunting in the 1930s, these measures were generally ineffective because many communities still required large catches to survive. In 1946, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was created with the goal of regulating the whaling industry by limiting the number of whales that could be caught during specific seasons.

Yet even the formation of the IWC was not an effective whale conservation measure. The areas that were most affected by the IWC's regulations were slow to conform to the regulations. It was discovered that most whaling areas were actually providing the IWC with false catch records. As a result, the IWC decided on a complete regulatory overhaul which banned commercial hunting of whales in 1982.


There are exceptions to the ban on commercial whaling, however. Certain communities are allowed to catch whales because completely banning the practice in these areas could lead to starvation. Areas like Greenland, Siberia, and Alaska are given a certain quota of whales that they are allowed catch for the purposes of survival.

The process of whale conservation does not, however, stop with the prevention of commercial hunting. Whales and dolphins are severely affected by pollution in the sea. Various manufacturing companies are guilty of dumping waste into the sea. Examples of waste tossed into the sea include chemicals, sewage, oil, and even nuclear materials.

This pollution affects the quality of the water which, in turn, damages the aquatic life that lives in the ocean. Dolphins and whales that are subjected to heavy metals in the water can die from poisoning. It has been found that people who eat cetaceans may be at risk from lead poisoning and other problems related to polluted water.


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