Recent developments in Whaling

Ed Couzens

Whales are one of the most important symbol species in conservation and approaches to their management have important precedent value. However, for many people, even those involved in environmental issues, whaling is today a non-issue. The general impression seems to be that all whales are (a) endangered and (b) protected. However, the issue-area is far more complicated than this. Certain species of whale remain endangered – some critically; while others are numerous, with their populations considered by relevant scientific authorities not likely to be harmed by sustainable harvesting. Further, what many people do not realise is that of 85 or 86 species of cetacean, only 15 are accorded global protection. While whaling remains an area of bitter contention, it needs to be understood that it is today a more complicated debate than it was in the past. At present much of the debate is taking place ‘below the surface’ and is being fought out in procedural disputes as Parties to the International Whaling Commission engage in a subtle, but savage, war for control of the body. While they did not excite great public attention, there were a number of significant legal and political battles fought in the two periods 2007-2011 and 2011-2012 (and into 2013) which have the potential radically to alter how the world manages both whales and whaling in the future. South Africa has had, and will continue to have, a role to play; and it is important for those involved directly with whales, or with species management generally, to understand what is happening. This paper will attempt to shed some light on this.

Pressentation Topic

Recent developments in Whaling


Contact Prof Couzens:

Associate Professor, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, King George V Age, Durban 4001


Email Prof Couzens