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Whales and Whaling

Nature volume 135, page 216 (09 February 1935) | Download Citation



THE International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which came into force last month, is a first and important step towards the permanent preservation of whales and whaling. Since whales are killed almost entirely outside territorial waters, any effective measures having these ends in view must be taken by all great whaling countries in common; and one of the most important aspects of this Convention is that it inaugurates international treatment of the whaling industry. The Convention is concerned with the whalebone whales, on which all but a small part of modern whaling is based. It prohibits the capture of right whales, which have been reduced in numbers almost to disappearance, and requires a far more thorough utilisation of the carcases of other whalebone whales than was customary. A quite common practice was to produce oil from the blubber (from which oil is most easily obtained) alone. The Convention requires the utilisation of specified parts of the carcase, in which it follows the whaling regulations of the Falkland Islands Dependencies, and recent Norwegian law. This is economically sound, since it enables a given quantity of oil to be obtained from fewer whales. There is reason for supposing that the whales so saved may in a single season reach some thousands. Lastly, the Convention provides for the collection and collation of the statistics of both capture and manufacture, which should prove of the greatest value in the development of a full and satisfactory regulation of whaling. It makes no provision for the limitation of whaling, and as this will probably prove essential if the industry is to be maintained, it is a step only towards the solution of the main whaling problem; yet it is a valuable advance, in which it is greatly to be hoped the few whaling States not at present signatories will soon see their way to participate.

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