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Disappearing Whales:

Korea's Inconvenient Truth 2012


CONTENTS

Introduction 2 Regulations 4 Market and consumption 5 Economics of whale meat 7 The way forward 9

ACRONYMS IWC CRI KCG CITES IUCN

International Whaling Commission Cetacean Research Institute Korea Coast Guard) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora International Union for Conservation of Nature

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

ŠGreenpeace / Malcolm Pullman 1


ŠGreenpeace / Cris Toala Olivares

Introduction As a party to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), South Korea has banned whaling since 1986 and neither scientific whaling nor subsistence whaling is practiced. Domestic sales of whale products, however, are allowed if the whale is accidentally caught and killed in a fishing gear (bycatch) and Korea reports about 80 whales a year taken as bycatch. Korea and Japan have the highest bycatch of whales in the world, almost 10 times larger than the bycatch of countries like Australia, the US and South Africa. There is a substantial illegal whaling industry

and the IWC estimates that the number of whales being sold annually in Korea is double the number that could be accounted for by bycatch.1 Commercial whaling by Koreans began in 1946, after the national liberation, by those who had worked for the Japanese company under the Japanese colonisation. At the beginning, Fin whales were mainly caught, but Minke whales became the major target through the 1960s and 1970s since stocks of larger whales were depleted. 2 Rough figures of whale catch are shown in the table 1 Table 1. Large whale catch by Korea, 1910-1980 3 4 Large whales caught per year (mostly fin whales)

1910-19

250

1920-29

180

1930-39

160

1940

0

1941-45

130

1946-49

60-100

1950-59

90-100

1960-69

56

1970-80

24

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

ŠGreenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Decade

2


The shift to catching minke whales, as catch of large whales declined can be seen in the figures below. Hunting of the Korean gray whale continued even after it was almost extinct in Korean waters. Table 2. Large whale catch shifting to different species 5 Year

Minke

Fin*

Bryde

Grey

1962

170

82

0

0

1963

291

55

0

2

1964

384

88

0

3

1965

247

19

0

4

1966

301

22

0

5

1967

335

21

0

0

1968

316

28

0

0

1969

386

35

0

0

1970

715

25

0

0

1971

730

25

0

0

1972

767

2

0

0

1973

882

4

0

0

1974

566

52

0

0

1975

561

13

0

0

1976

494

0

43

0

1977

1033

0

26

0

1978

1018

0

34

0

* indicates that a few other large whales such as sei and humpback or unidentified large whales are included.

There are around 35 cetacean species inhabiting Korean waters with an estimated population of 90,000-100,000, most of which are small cetaceans. The most abundant baleen whale in Korea is the minke whale because the other species were depleted by commercial whaling. Most minke whales in Korean waters belong to a threatened sub population called the J stock and is classified as a protected stock by the IWC. In July 2012, the Korean government announced at an IWC meeting that it would start scientific whaling and this aroused fierce opposition within the meeting and from the around the world.

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

Korea’s announcement was particularly controversial because research on whales and other cetaceans around the world is done by non-lethal means. The only current exception to this is Japan and their research program in the Antarctic has been characterized by the IWC with the words ‘not required for management’. Only whaling nations have ever undertaken lethal research and it is widely seen as commercial whaling in disguise. The information that the IWC needs in order to set quotas, should a decision to set quotas be made, can all be obtained by non-lethal methods. The basic method used is a vessel survey. A ship sails though ocean and observers log whales seen. This leads to a population estimate which is the basis for a quota. At the 2012 IWC, the Korean government claimed that the minke whale population in the north Pacific has recovered and needs to be hunted, but there is no scientific evidence for such a claim. No agreed estimate for this population exists because not enough sightings data has yet been collected. Data collected so far by Korean government scientists indicates a decline of 5 – 7% a year and although this data does not show the population is actually declining, because there is not yet enough data for a firm population estimate, it undermines claims the population has recovered.6 Although whales eat fish they are not the cause of decreases in fish sizes or stocks, after all whales and fish have existed in the oceans at high levels of abundance for millions of years. The decline of fisheries is due to human activities and overfishing by industrial fleets. We need to reduce fishing to sustainable levels and reduce fishing capacity.

3


Regulations A) Domestic laws, regulations, or policies on whaling and whale meat trade In accordance with the IWC moratorium, Korea banned whaling for all cetacean species in 1985. Sometimes whales are accidentally caught in fishing gear and drown - this is referred to a bycatch. Fishermen are only allowed to sell bycatch when they find a dead animal and live whales must be released. But despite reporting 80 cases of entanglement per year, Korea has never reported even a single case of a live whale being freed from @HAN Jeonghee entanglement and released. Countries with much smaller bycatches than Korea regularly report such rescues. All bycatches are required to be reported to the Korea Coast Guard (KCG) 7 and the police are required to inspect the carcass to ascertain whether it was drowned or deliberately killed. The government recently reviewed its regulations and changed them in January 2011 and introduced measures intended to better manage whale meat distribution such as: - DNA sampling of auctioned bycatch and confiscated meat from illegal whalers, - The issuing of Cetacean Trade Certificates Under the new regulations, the distributors must hold a Cetacean Trade Certificate for each whale traded. A copy of the Certificate and the DNA sampling results must be submitted to the Cetacean Research Institute (CRI) in order to build up a database, intended to provide the ground for detecting any illegally sourced whale meat on the market. But the new measures don’t seem to be working well. A review after one year of implementation found that although the KCG issued Certificates for total of 1,140 whales and small cetaceans (26 illegally caught whales included) only 362 certificates have been received by the CRI, leaving a huge gap in efforts to identify illegally sourced products. 8 B) Relevant international agreements, treaties, or organisations to which Korea is a member Korea has been a party of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), administered by the IWC, since 1978,9 and it has banned directed whaling since 1986 when the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect. Korea has been a party to CITES since 1993, and has prohibited international trade in cetacean species listed in the CITES Appendix I, which includes the minke whale. Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

ŠGreenpeace / Natalie Behring 4


@HAN Jeonghee

Market and consumption A) Whale species on the market Minke whales find their way onto the market via accidental catch or illegal whaling. Other species are sold occasionally when there is supply but most whale meat that is found in whale meat restaurants is described as minke whale. Large baleen whales like the minke are preferred due to their taste and sell at much higher prices than small cetacean species that are widely referred as ‘dolgorae (dolphins or porpoises)’ by the locals. For that reason, even small cetacean meat is called ‘gorae (whale) gogi (meat)’ initially when it is sold, and the seller would answer whether it is ‘minke’ or ‘dolgorae gogi’ only if the specific species is questioned. Baker, C. S., et al. (2006) 10 shows molecular (DNA) monitoring results from nine market sampling surveys in Korea between 2003 and 2005. The table below shows which species are sold on the market, on what proportion. Table 3. DNA MONITORING RESULTS FROM MARKET SAMPLING SURVEYS IN KOREA 2003-2005 Identified species

Number of products where the species is found

Minke whale (north Pacific stock)

230

Bryde’s whale

4

Humpback whale

3

Baleen whales

Baleen whale sub-total

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

Small cetaceans

237

Stejneger’s beaked whale

1

Cuvier’s beaked whale

1

Blainville’s beaked whale

2

Bottlenose dolphin

3

Risso’s dolphin

2

Common dolphin

33

Pacific white-sided dolphin

5

False killer whale

16

Killer whale

3

Short-finned pilot whale

2

Unidentified dolphin

2

Harbour porpoise

2

Finless porpoise

48

Small cetacean sub-total

120

Total

357

※B  ecause minke and other baleen whales are much larger than small cetaceans they account for over 95% of the meat sold. 5


B) Market size and structure The market is not controlled in a systematic way, making it impossible to fully assess the data on market structure as well as supply and demand of whale products. However, it was estimated that approximately 50 specialty restaurants are in the whale meat business with half of them in Ulsan, consuming about 150 tonnes a @LIM Tae Hoon year (assuming 1 Minke yields a tonne of meat, approximately 150 Minke whales), according to a briefing on the whale meat market reported to a special meeting prior to the 2005 IWC annual meeting.11 12 In the last couple of years, with active support from local government, ‘whale tourism’, including dolphin shows, the whale watching boat trip and whale festival, has drawn tourists to the region (estimated number of visitors of whale tourism was over 200,000 in 2009), which ironically stimulated whale meat consumption as a local delicacy, reflected in the increased the number of restaurants.13 There are three types of retailers: specialty restaurants, restaurants selling other foods but@Greenpeace dealing in whale meat on / LIM Taehoon demand, and small stalls clustering together in conventional markets in Pohang and Busan. Specialty restaurants sell mainly Minke whales. It is said that non-specialty restaurants selling whale meat as an extra purchase whale meat from neighboring specialty restaurants on demand from customers and therefore the quantity dealt with by this type of retailers is not considered significant. Small stalls deal with both Minke whales and small cetaceans. confirmed distribution channel possible, but not confirmed channel

Govermment - confiscated from illegal whalers

Fishermen - bycatch

auction:both Minke and small cetacean

Illegal catch Wholesaler Minke

Fishermen - bycatch

Minke small cetacean Some run by Wholesasler

unlikly but maybe small amount of small cetacean

small cetacean

Specialty restaurant Minke

Minke

Non-speciatty restaurant

Minke

mainly Minke

Stall mainly small cetacean

End consumer

Legal sources of whale meat supply include bycatch and confiscated meat from illegal hunters. Naked eye inspection by KCG and DNA sampling must be conducted before sales can take place and certificates issued. Profits from bycatch sales go to the fishermen who found the dead whale and therefore hold ownership. KCG takes care of the sales of confiscated meat (normally high valued Minke whale) through auction and the money goes to National Treasury. Almost all Minke whales and some small cetaceans are sold through auction at fisheries cooperatives’ joint markets in order for sellers to secure a higher price. In fact, the price is determined depending on the size, age, and most of all its freshness but Minke whales are normally sold for a high price. ©Greenpeace / Natalie Behring

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

One of the interviewed wholesalers said that about 70% of products sold at these stalls were dolphins or porpoises. Although exact proportion of Minke whale meat traded for each type of market remains unknown, a news article reports that over 90% of bycaught Minke whales are sold in specialty restaurants.14

6


©Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Economics of whale meat A) Legal supply - cetacean bycatch The table below shows how many minkes and other species (most of them being small cetacean) have been bycaught between 2000 and 2010.

Table 4. OFFICIAL RECORD FOR THE CETACEAN BYCATCH AND ILLEGAL WHALING IN KOREA 2000-2010

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

Year

Cetacean bycatch subtotal

Minke bycatch

Cetacean bycatch except Minke

2000

126

80

46

1

127

2001

485

160

325

4

489

2002

296

89

207

18

314

2003

367

92

275

7

374

2004

263

69

194

9

272

2005

537

107

430

10

547

2006

574

82

492

4

578

2007

663

80

583

20

683

2008

722

81

641

12

734

2009

595

83

512

16

611

2010

770

91

679

13

783

총계

5398

1014

4384

114

5512

Illegally hunted whales Total no of (mostly Minke) 15 cetacean killed

source: KCG and IWC progress report It is shown in the table above that over 80 minke whales are bycaught annually. This makes up 33% of global large cetacean mortality from bycatch reported to the IWC.16 This high incidence suggests that current laws, which allow bycaught whale meat to be sold into the restaurant trade, provide a strong incentive for deliberate drowning or killing by some other means.

7


© Greenpeace / Hoya

B) ) Illegal supply – Illegal whaling Since whale meat has a legal market and is sold for high price, some fishermen illegally catch whales or get involved in organized crime through butchering, delivery, etc. The KCG cracks down on illegal whaling, but has limited resources. Table 4 shows numbers of large whales (mostly minkes) hunted by whalers. These numbers are only for those from the arrested whalers - there are many more illegally caught and distributed whales on the market. The IWC’s scientists agree that the actual take of minke whales is double the number reported as being taken in accidental entanglements. Reports in the Korean media indicate that total consumption is 400 – 500 whales per year.17 18 so the illegal take may be much higher than estimated by the IWC scientists. It is said in recent years that whaling has become more like organized crime involving different roles from harpooning

to delivery. The assumption that illegal whaling is taking place at much bigger scale seems to be substantiated by the discovery and arrest of illegal whalers and traders in March 2008 involving 90 Minke, and in June 2010 involving 120 Minke and continued reports to the IWC every year, including 2012 by the government of Korea reporting arrests for illegal whaling and seizures of whale meat.19 20

Table 5. Arrests for illegal whaling in Korea 21 Year

Arrests

Whales killed

2009

8*

14

2010

27

18

2011

39

21

* Plus one fisherman who drowned while harpooning a whale

C) Market dynamics

In the last couple of years, the local government has been actively promoting whale meat consumption through developing new recipes with whale meat to target a young generation who are not very familiar with eating whale meat as part of its whale tourism promotion . Demand for whale meat has been increasing as more tourists visit the region and find whale meat marketed as a local delicacy.

Since the new regulations, which set the ground for exposing illegally traded whale meat in the market, came into effect at the beginning of 2011 the illegal supply seems to be shrinking, causing drastic increase of bycatch price according to a recent media report.23 It says that average price of Minke bycatch doubled up in 2011 from 30 million KRW to 60 million KRW per animal, compared to 2010. Average price of small cetacean has also increased from 3 million KRW to 5 million KRW between 2010 and 2011. This phenomenon is similar to what happened in 2004 when illegal supply was known to be squeezed due to strengthened enforcement on illegal whaling prior to the 2005 IWC meeting in Ulsan. It can therefore be assumed that illegally caught whales account for significant amount of the market and that strengthened management has a potential to control illegal whaling.

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

Due to the lack of systematic management of the market, the accurate trend in supply and demand cannot be obtained. However, rough trends can be drawn from the interviews with relevant stakeholders and media reports. Demand for whale meat dropped with a raise of price when commercial whaling was banned, leading to the change in characteristics of whale meat eating from subsistence to gourmet dining. It is said by restaurant owners that there has been a stable level of demand since then and it is gradually growing.

8


©Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

The way forward A) Policy loophole The Korean government has taken a number of steps to illegal whaling and illegal trade of whale products in recent years, e.g. collecting DNA sample of all auctioned bycatch and issuing Cetacean Trade Certificate. Although these new regulations have so far been assessed as ineffective in implementation, this can be improved if the relevant authorities keep making efforts. While more push at implementation level is needed, there are loopholes in the regulation system that need to be closed in order to tackle the two main problems: high number of bycatch and significant level of illegal whaling. The current system provides local fishermen with incentives to have whale bycatch by giving ownership to the person who secures the dead whale first. It is likely to encourage fishermen either to regard a dead whale in their fishing nets as desirable or to disguise deliberate hunting as bycatch by any possible means. There is no way to distinguish whether a whale is genuinely bycaught or deliberately killed if, for example, a fisherman left a whale to die instead of releasing it when it is entangled. The current system is not only threatening whale stocks but also tempting innocent fishermen to become criminals. Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

9

B) Recommendations ·The practice of giving dead whales to finders should be ended and dead whales should not be brought to shore. ·Financial incentives should be given to release whales alive when possible. ·There should be mandatory registration for whale meat restaurants so consumption can be better tracked. ·Given the high value of whale meat, penalties for illegal whaling should be increased to deter this sort of crime. ·All the cetacean species listed in CITES Appendix I or II should be formally protected by the Korean government.24 Conclusion Korea has a domestic law that bans whaling. Korea also has the responsibility to mitigate bycatch as a party to the IWC. However, it is letting these happen by not implementing its own law properly and by leaving the loopholes to be abused. The Korean government should strengthen the level of monitoring, control, and the surveillance in order to implement the relevant policy / law properly. If it cannot control illegal and unsustainable activities in its own water, what are the chances that it can control its own vessels in distant waters. Korea needs to put the utmost effort to save the oceans and marine ecosystem that are destroyed by overfishing due to lack of proper management of fishery. And the effort also needs to be made on the whales in Korea.


1

IUCN statement at http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_position_on_scientific_whaling_in_korea_13_july_2012.pdf Anonymous. (2005). “Whaling Industry of Korea.” 2007, Jangsaengpo Whale Museum. 3 Doopia cited from http://100.naver.com/100.nhn?docid=730601, accessed on 27 Feb 2012. 4 'The History of Modern Whaling', J.N Tonnessen and A.O. Johnsen, 1982, IBSN 0-905838-23-8 5 'The History of Modern Whaling', J.N Tonnessen and A.O. Johnsen, 1982, IBSN 0-905838-23-8 6 IUCN statement at http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_position_on_scientific_whaling_in_korea_13_july_2012.pdf 7 Kim, Z. G. (1999). "By-catch of Minke whales in Korean waters." Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 1 (Suppl.): 98-100. 8 Hankook Ilbo, 21 Feb, 2012. Accessed on 28 Feb 2012 from http://news.hankooki.com/lpage/society/201202/ h2012022115421921950.htm 9 IWC (2007). “IWC Member nations and commissioners.” Retrieved 2 May, 2007, from http://www.iwcoffice.org/ commission/members.htm. 10 Baker, C. S., Lukoschek, V., et al. (2006). Incomplete reporting of whale, dolphin and porpoise ‘bycatch’ revealed by molecular monitoring of Korean markets. Animal Conservation 9: 474-482. 11 Jeong, J. R. and G. C. Hwang (2005). Whaling, resume or not? Dong A Daily. 12 Mok, S. G. (2006). Catch whaler!, Hankook Daily. 13 Ulsanpress (2010). Lifting whaling ban to stop the side effect of illegal whaling, 11 Jul 2010, Ulsanpress (local media), ROK. Retrieved 18 Oct 2010 from http://www.ulsanpress.net/news/articleView.html?idxno=56869. 14 Jeong, J. R. and G. H. Lee (2006). Whales of East sea, scared of fishing nets. Dong A Daily. 15 Confiscated and provided as legal supply to the market 16 IWC (2009). Report of the Scientific Committee, Annex J: Report of the working group on estimation of bycatch and other human-induced mortality. Retrieved 6 Dec 2010 from http://iwcoffice.org/_documents/sci_com/SCRepFiles2009/ Annex%20J%20-%20Final-sq.pdf. 17 Kim, Ma Seon (2010), War against illegal whaling in order to secure whaling quota from the IWC., BusanIlbo (regional media). 18 MBC (2010). Illegal whaling rampant… fishermen calling for culling, 28 July 2010, MBC (National media), Republic of Korea. Retrieved on 4 Nov 2010 from http://imnews.imbc.com/replay/nwtoday/article/2667595_5782.html. 19 SBS (2008). Illegally killed and sold whale meat for 90 whales caught by the police, 18 Mar 2008, SBS (national media), Korea. Retrieved 26 Oct 2010, from http://news.sbs.co.kr/section_news/news_read.jsp?news_id=N1000391267. 20 KCG (2010). Round up of a gang of whalers and whale meat distributors on the East coast. Media briefing, Retrieved 7 Nov, 2010 from http://www.korea.kr/newsWeb/pages/search/search.jsp?dquery=%EB%8F%99%ED%95%B4%EC %95%88+%EC%9D%BC%EB%8C%80+%EB%B0%8D%ED%81%AC%EA%B3%A0%EB%9E%98+%EB%B6%88%EB% B2%95%ED%8F%AC%ED%9A%8D&collection=&chk=true. 21 Compiled from information provided to the IWC by the government of Korea. 22 PR from local government NamGu, “It’s not difficult to taste ‘whale meat’”, http://www.ulsannamgu.go.kr/namgu/ namgu04_10.php?gubun=view&brdId=bodo&bNo=2233&page=11&case=&sear=&deptCode=&type= 23 Kookje Shinmun (2012), Lotto of the sea, skyrocketing price of whales, 19 Feb, 2012, Accessed on 28 Feb 2012 from http://www.pusannews.co.kr/news2011/asp/newsbody.asp?code=0500&key=20120219.99002114645. 24 Ministry of Environment has its own list of endangered fauna and flora (including mammal, avian, reptile, amphibian, fish, insect, and invertebrate species), but cetaceans are not included here. However, the Ministry defines ‘internationally designated endangered species’ as the species on the Appendix I, II, and III of the CITES, and all the large whales are on Appendix I. 2

Disappearing Whales: Korea's Inconvenient Truth

10

©Greenpeace / Paul Hilton


Written by HAN Jeonghee For inquiries, contact ekr@greenpeace.org

www.greenpeace.org/korea

cover photo ŠGreenpeace / Walter Obiol


disappearing whales