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How Environmentally-Friendly is Whaling: An Ecological Perspective

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Freeman, Milton M. R.
Conference: Inequality and the Commons, the Third Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Washington, DC
Conf. Date: September 17-20, 1992
Date: 1992
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1398
Sector: Fisheries
Water Resource & Irrigation
Subject(s): whaling
environmental ethics
ecological economics
water resources
Abstract: "Much of international debate about management objectives and appropriate utilization of both whale and elephant populations centres on whether it is appropriate to regard these stocks as being essentially the same or fundamentally different from other biotic or mammalian resource stocks. Increasingly it appears that sectors of western society imbue both whales and elephants (and certain other selected species, e.g. see Kellert 1986) with a special status that requires that they be treated fundamentally differently from other species for management and conservation purposes. "The special status accorded whales and elephants comes in part from their biological characteristics, though very often these may be imputed or imagined biological characteristics rather than scientifically established ones. For example, the question of 'intelligence,' or communication abilities, or behavioral or social characteristics of these particular animals are areas where sentimentality, imagination, extreme anthropomorphization, or mere wishful thinking frequently overtakes the available scientific evidence. Unfortunately it is not only non-scientists who suffer lapses of critical thinking in regard to these matters (though often these scientists are non-specialists in the areas of science they uncritically embrace). "It is easy to be misled in these matters, as government officials, public figures, the media and various national and international organizations promote the impression that whales and elephants are highly intelligent, seriously endangered and subject to needless and irresponsible slaughter and consequently in urgent need of total protection. "Many scientists associate themselves with these 'environmental' campaigns. Championing a popular 'green' cause certainly can provide a welcome change from labouring in relative obscurity, as public advocacy may result in invitations to speak and be consulted, the promise of travel, and, perhaps, enhanced access to research funds."

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