Humpback and Minke, removed from "Endangered" list - New impetus for whaling resumptionIn real terms, the recovery of the humpback whale after more than 40 years of protection (i.e. since the 1960's - two decades before the unnecessary commercial whaling moratorium was rammed into effect) is great news.
It has been learnt that the IUCN, after confirming increases in the number of Humpback and Minke whales which had been threatened with extinction, has moved to down list these two species to a lower rank of extinction risk.
The downgrade is expected to be published shortly in the "Red List", which classifies animal species by different levels of extinction risk. Coming on the eve of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Anchorage USA, the controversy surrounding the resumption of commercial whaling for these two species is likely to be heightened.
According to the Red List, the Humpback was "Endangered (Threatened)", and the Minke whale species, while not meeting the criteria of a Threatened species, had been classified in the "Near Threatened" category, requiring caution, due to a notable decreasing trend in their numbers.
The IUCN, in progressing their re-evaluation of the rankings for the world's mammal species, held a meeting of specialists in January this year, and confirmed that they would downgrade the Humpback and Minke whale species to "Least Concern", a ranking indicating a low risk of extinction, based on scientific data such as that provided by the research whaling conducted by Japan.
The research whaling is currently conducted with respect to Minke whales, and from this autumn will commence for Humpback whales. This downgrade will potentially provide the nations who are aiming for a resumption in commercial whaling, such as Japan, with a powerful reinforcement. Yoshio Kaneko of Iwate Prefectural University's Faculty of Policy Studies commented that "This is the result of an objective judgement of the status of whale abundance. With respect to these two species, anti-whaling advocates will lose any grounds they had to say that these whales are facing extinction".
(2007/4/27/ 3:10 Yomiuri Shinbun)
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