IWC – International Whaling Commission

The IWC is meeting this week in Morocco to discuss whether some countries can be allowed to kill whales. New Zealand is especially interested in whaling in the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica. Japan has a quota of 935 Antarctic Minke whales each year which they are allowed to kill. They call this scientific research, studying whales. They are allowed to sell the whale meat so that it is not wasted. Twenty years ago, the IWC discovered there were about three quarters of a million Minke whales in Antarctica so they are not endangered. However, many countries and individual people are not happy about killing whales at all. Listen to March 12th 2010 about one protester.

Norway and Iceland now kill whales for food. This is a traditional food for their countries. Some other people, like native people in Alaska, are also allowed to kill a few whales because it is their traditional food. The Maori Fisheries Trust tonight made a speech to the IWC and said they want to do the same because whale meat was a traditional food in their culture.

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, wants a compromise to keep both sides happy. He thinks Japan should be allowed to kill some whales for food. However, Australia does not want Japan to kill whales at all in the Southern Ocean.

The IWC meeting finishes on Friday.


1. Why does Japan have to kill 935 whales to study them?
2. Do you think people who eat whale meat as part of their traditional culture should be allowed to kill whales?
3. The Maori Fisheries Trust say that some countries traditionally have very cruel ways of treating animals for food like putting rings around a bird’s neck but they are allowed to do this so Maori should be allowed to kill whales. Is this a good argument?
4. Why are some countries and individuals not happy about killing whales?

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