06 April 2014

Big as a Whale

You cannot mistake the feeling of tide-turning moments.

The environmental movement tests patience, hope, and tenacity. We go long periods with little or no change in the system. While small victories have value, a lack of major changes can discourage. However, when something big happens, you know it and realize no other feeling tops it. This week, one of those events occurred.

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on commercial whaling. Despite the moratorium, Japan has continued whaling, claiming it does so for research purposes. Four years ago, Australia took Japan to court over its "scientific" whaling in Antarctic waters. The International Court of Justice ruled last Monday in favor of Australia, declaring that Japan's whaling was not scientific and violated international law.

The moment I heard the news, I knew it was one of those events that change the world in major ways. After years of stonewalling from Japan, the court decision pulled a key pillar from the system that keeps whaling alive. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization that dedicates much of its time to ending whaling, also saw the significance of the ruling. Check out what Sea Shepherd had to say: 

The court ruling doesn't end all whaling. In fact, it only applies to Antarctic waters. However, its effects will reach around the world. According to this report from The Guardian, one Japanese online retailer that had been selling whale meat has already ended the practice. Clearly, the tide has turned in favor of the whales.

Environmental victories do happen, and there's no question this one's really, really big.

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