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Impressions: whales and human relationships in myth, tradition, and law

posted on 2023-06-08, 15:03 authored by Stuart Harrop
The predicament of whales and whaling provides a focus for very different perspectives and a battle ground for a range of epistemic groups that are shaped and informed by multiple influences: myths, traditions, heritage, practices, ethics, laws and aspects of knowledge. These different perspectives are guarded and reinforced and provide the basis for validation of each group’s political stance within the International Whaling Commission and other regulatory fori dealing with the predicament of whales. In this chapter samples of these perspectives are examined as they relate particularly to controversial aspects of polar whaling where a low-key battle has been fought for some years now albeit with sporadic skirmishes rather than constant fighting. A key area for conflict is the granting by the IWC of aboriginal subsistence exemptions for whaling. Specific questions may be extracted from the political haze that beleaguers whaling politics. These include the need to define the meaning of “aboriginal” in the context of the loss of traditions and the developmental transitions of indigenous people and the need to determine the extent to which traditional whaling may cross-over from the status of "subsistence" to "commercial" . By examining aspects of the root perspectives and influences that relate to these questions it is hoped that some meaning may be discerned which may contribute to shortening, if only by minutes, the long days spent debating the fate of the great whales.


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  • Published



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Book title

Whales and dolphins: cognition, culture, conservation and human perceptions



Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Philippa Brakes, Mark Peter Simmonds

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