Excuse the epic posts here!
I had a fair bit to say and it took more words than I expected to say it.
After a year of reading about whales I still don't have a real understanding of the basic question in all of this.
Why is Japan defending whaling so strongly?
If I had to bet money on the reason... I would say that the Japanese Fisheries Agency sees itself as fighting some sort of desperate rear guard action over its rights to take resources from international waters. They have decided to invent a game where each species has to 'win' its protection one by one, from the top down. They see a war, fought battle by battle in a logical path down the food chain as fishery after fishery collapses.
Whales in the Southern Ocean where chosen first because of the legal nightmare surrounding them as well as their physical DISTANCE from Japan. I mean when you start a rear guard action the idea is to delay the 'enemy' as long as possible from your 'base'. Its what I would do in their place anyway.
First we stall them for over 40 years on whale protection, then 20 for dolphins, then 10 after that for Tuna, then 5 after that for sardine, then 2 after that for squid.....
But thats not how it works.
Every thing is connected.
As Jacques Yves Cousteau knew well enough in 1970, when you remove things from an ecosystem it creates changes. With whales it impacts the krill which are the central part of the entire Antarctic food web.
I only reached that pattern of thought after enough reading to kill an average person :)
The Japanese do not whale for scientific, cultural or monetary reasons. Of this much I am certain. The whales themselves could also never be considered a viable food source for 127 million people.
All that remains is political/territorial reasons, or the use of the whales as either a method of distraction or a punishment dummy to keep the heat off the big fisheries that are important to Japans food security like the krill harvests and longliners.
I think it is important that all nations work together to keep Antarctica unspoilt, but we need to understand that if the Southern Ocean ecosystem collapses it will impact on the health of the entire sea.
Let me break down what I do know.
The animals are in deep shit & We are in deep shit
You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.
Live or die.
The difference is what we do today.