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[Opinion]Greenpeace Vs. Jansaeng-po

Posted March. 25, 2005 23:44,   


More than 50 images of whales and whaling scenes are engraved on the Bangudae Petroglyph, located in Eonyang Town of Ulju County, Ulsan. It shows how whaling took place off the coast of Ulsan ever since the prehistoric era. The surface of the Hweyoo Sea offshore Ulsan, designated as natural heritage area No. 126, is the path that the gray whale follows to produce its offspring. Jangsaengpo port has been the primary base for the Korean whaling industry ever since Count Keyserlingk of Russia used it in 1899 to process whales caught in the Pacific Ocean. At Jangsaeng-po, a whale festival is held every May and June, and a whale museum is planned to open this October.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, Jangsaeng-po was packed with whaling boats, and gourmands came from every district for a taste of soft and tender whale meat. However, after the ban against commercial whaling imposed in 1986 by the International Whaling Committee (IWC), the 20 or so whale-meat restaurants relied on whale carcasses that had drifted downstream, or on netted whales for their meat supply. Nothing goes to waste from a whale, and the color and taste of its meat is distinct depending on the part of the whale it comes from. Whale oil is used to make margarine or printable ink, the bones are used as manure, and the skin is made into leather.

The general assembly meeting of the IWC, which will be held this June in Ulsan, will likely provide a forum for heated debate between countries for and against resuming whaling inside of national Exclusive Economic Zones. Norway and Japan are the most prominent supporters of the resumption. The opinions of specialists are also significant, as they believe that the ban on commercial whaling has caused a sudden increase in the number of whales and has disrupted the ecosystem and ruined fishing grounds. They assert the need for “selective whaling” of species that outnumber others, in order to protect other fish.

The “Rainbow Warrior,” a ship owned by Greenpeace, arrived in Korea for a demonstration against whaling that will take place off the coast of Ulsan. Greenpeace asserts that whales are still in danger of extinction. It is hard to identify the number of whales per species, since they spend most of their time underwater.

How will the residents of Jangsaengpo react to the Greenpeace demonstration? It makes me realize that even the smallest of ports is part of the world.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial writer, hthwang@donga.com