Endangered species

by frog

Stephen Franks has a unique, but misguided, take on the the Japanese whaling issue in today’s Dom Post (off line).

In his opinion piece he suggests we should not upset the Japanese over their whale slaughter because they might have a go at us over sheep:

We are lathered in moral indignation about whaling. Yet as a nation we live off the proceeds of slaughtering up to 40 million cuddly young animals a year. Japanese think lambs are impossibly cute.

His argument seems to be based on the fear that our opposition to whaling will come back to bite us.

The world was relieved when Japan renounced aggression 60 years ago. New Zealand should not be reminding the Japanese why they might again want a capacity to make distant enemies tremble.

Even if our silly insults are unlikely to have that effect, Japan has many more subtle levers. They could make us beg for spare parts for our cars and computers and all the other things we love but no longer know how to make.

Franks, as usual, has missed the point. New Zealand has a huge industry in farming sheep. As we all know sheep are generally bred for either their wool or their meat. They are not an endangered animal.

Whales, on the otherhand, are. They are wild creatures that once roamed the seas in huge numbers until humankind decided they made a nifty source of lamp oil. Now many species are on the verge of extinction.

As a more enlightened generation, we now have an obligation to undo some of the damage done. And if that includes standing up to another country and risking trade agreements, well so be it. Our children and grandchildren will thank us for it when whales again become a common sight off our coast.

Quite frankly I am a little surprised at Mr Franks’ view. Given the outcome of the last election he should have some degree of empathy with endangered species.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Fri, January 13th, 2006   


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