Illegal trade and scientific whaling undermine whale protection in Korea

Press release - 2012-09-17
Seoul, 17 September 2012 — Greenpeace today urged the Korean government to ensure protection of whales in Korean waters and totally abandon further plans to reconsider scientific whaling in 2013, after backtracking from it this year due to strong international criticism.

In front of the government complex in Seoul, Greenpeace activists demonstrated with a 15-meter long inflatable whale and banners saying "Korean gov't, don't kill whales anymore".

The new Greenpeace report “Disappearing Whales: Korea’s Inconvenient Truth” shows how poor management by the government have perpetuated illegal whaling and trade, with as many as 400 to 500 Minke whales killed yearly (1) in stark contrast to official Minke bycatch count of around 90 cases per year. Minke whales in the Korean waters belong to the protected J-stock Minkes found in Northern Pacific.

"The population of Minke whales in Korean waters is not recovering as the government claims. In fact, according to data submitted by their own scientists it is decreasing by 5-7% annually (2). On top of that, the high rate of bycatch and illegal whaling could threaten the population further,” said Jeonghee Han, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner.

Greenpeace also called the Korean government's scientific whaling plans as nothing but thinly disguised commercial whaling, identical to the much-maligned Japanese scientific whaling activities.

“Scientific whaling is unnecessary as there are non-lethal methods such as biopsy sampling and satellite tagging that are widely used to study whale biology. The Korean government should abandon its plan to introduce scientific whaling,” she added.

Whales are iconic representatives of marine biodiversity. By protecting these flagship species and their habitat other oceanic creatures can also be conserved.

Greenpeace ship, MY Esperanza, is currently on its Ocean Defender's Tour in South Korea to raise awareness on the negative impacts of overfishing to our marine ecosystem.

Greenpeace is campaigning for better fishery management to end overfishing and to support a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health and to maintain living oceans and ample fish for future generations.


Arthur Dionio, Greenpeace International Communications, +66814451398
Jeonghee Han, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner, 010-96160209 

1) Figures are from Kim, Ma Seon (2010), War against illegal whaling in order to secure whaling quota from the IWC., BusanIlbo.