“Climate change is actually helping whale hunters — here’s how,” writes VICE News’ Matt Smith.
(Photocredit: Franck Robichon/EPA)
In defiance of a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, Iceland and Norway continue to whale; some in Japan still eat whale meat; Japan allows whaling under an “exemption for scientific purposes.” Whales face “more threats today than at any time in history,” says Patrick Ramage, the director of whale programs at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, and its sea ice cover has been shrinking for decades. That’s opening up new sea routes along the northern shores of North America, Europe, and Russia — and causing ‘unprecedented changes’ to traditional cetacean habitats, WWF Arctic species specialist Pete Ewins told Vice News.”
Though, Fin whales generally live in the northern temperate waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, warming temperatures have driven them to higher latitudes, “putting them in competition with existing Arctic species like bowhead and beluga whales or narwhals,” said Ewins. “Those whales are highly stressed, especially by ice retreat at unprecedented levels,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the prospect of increased commercial fishing in the region threatens to reduce the amount of food for the massive mammals. And as warming driven by fossil fuel consumption makes the Arctic more accessible, it’s made the estimated reserves of oil and gas in the region more accessible.
All of those pose threats to whales, which also can die when snagged in fishing gear, hit by ships’ propellers, or fouled by an oil spill. Ewins said humans need to come up with “a smarter and better-balanced” approach to the Arctic before pouring into the North the way they have swarmed other frontiers.”