Yesterday, five fishing vessels left the port of Kushiro in northern Japan to hunt whales commercially for the first time in more than three decades. As they set sail, three other whalers left Shimonoseki in southwestern Japan. The Kushiro vessels will kill 227 whales between now and December, according to Japan’s fisheries’ agency, which had delayed quota details until after the G20 summit in Osaka.
The resumption of whaling will no doubt provoke heartfelt criticism all around the world, some in Ireland too. However, a piece we publish today — by Ashley Hayden on the opposite page — suggests Irish criticism must be tempered because we are, though we don’t hunt whales, vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy.
The piece shows how we have again failed in our obligations to protect our natural world. It details over-exploitation, over-fishing and the destruction of a West Cork marine habitat that was, even a few years ago, almost pristine.
Sadly, it is impossible not to imagine the destruction he describes is not symptomatic of a far wider and ever-more pressing problem. What will it take to make us change?