My name is Aly, and this will be my first formal debate. I am looking forward to illuminating the subject of commercial whaling with you.
In this debate, I will argue against regulated commercial whaling.
Firstly, whaling is not illegal in international waters or domestic waters of a whaling nation. Japan's controversial research program, while disliked by many, is by no means illegal. It is not even prohibited by the IWC, which is not a lawmaking body. Their commercial whaling moratorium is entirely voluntary. Any country that doesn't want to listen to the IWC is under no obligation to.
The killing of whales is not exceptionally inhumane. Unlike in the "golden age of whaling" in the 19th century, whales are no longer hunted by developed nations with hand-thrown harpoons and spears, which could take hours or even days to kill a single whale. Norway, Iceland, and Japan, the top three whaling nations of the modern world, utilize harpoon guns, which shoot a heavy steel harpoon with an exploding grenade at the tip of it. When aimed correctly, these kill or render unconscious the whale within seconds, and generally under one or two minutes. It is the equivalent or shorter time to death as any big game animal shot with a rifle on land. Norway has the best record for humane kills, with 80% of whales shot dying within a minute or so. This shows that whaling can be humane, and we must work to make it entirely so. One must also not overlook how in a slaughterhouse, animals sometimes do not die immediately, and due to the atrocious factory style abattoirs' need to process hundreds or thousands of animals, sometimes go through extreme amounts of pain before expiring.
Whaling is sustainable. One cannot say that all whales are endangered, because this is simply not true. Yes, some whales like the blue whale or right whale are currently endangered and protected from hunting. But the most hunted species of whale is the Minke whale. Its world populations are estimated at 800,000, with only one or two thousand being taken per year. The species is currently growing in population in fact, due to the small quotas for hunting them. Iceland and Japan, however, continue to hunt the endangered Fin whale. Despite very small quotas, less than two hundred per year worldwide, I believe that this species is still to fragile to support hunting.
Whaling is not unethical. People like to say that whales are unique, intelligent, and human-like, and thus should not be killed. Every species is unique and many have human-like social structures, yet we kill plenty of them. Pigs are also very intelligent, yet we slaughter them. To designate whales as different is completely arbitrary. Of course, these arguments only hold if my opponent accepts the killing of other types of animals for human consumption. If she does not find it acceptable, I can only say that animals kill others for food. If humans evolved not to eat meat, we would not be adept at digesting it, our teeth would not be shaped for eating it, and we would not find it to taste good. Yet we do, and thus I believe we evolved as omnivores. Sustainable hunting of whales is actually better for the environment than commercial livestock farming. It yields no methane, no toxic solid waste, and whales do not take up human living space.
Whale meat is not necessarily mercury-laden as some would have you believe. The meat of toothed whales, such as sperm whales and pilot whales/dolphins is unfortunately, heavily contaminated. This is because for each step in the food chain, poisons present in the bottom of it are concentrated significantly. At the top of the chain are these toothed whales, and thus they contain potentially hazardous levels of mercury. But this does not apply to baleen whales, such as Minke whales and Fin whales. They eat only plankton and krill, the bottom of the food chain. This means they are at its same level as small fish. And therefore, they do not contain as high concentrations of mercury.
In addressing con:
“Whaling is not illegal[…]”
“The killing of whales is not exceptionally inhumane”
“Whaling is sustainable.”
“Animals kill others for food.”
My argument is centered on two claims:
Whaling is not good for the environment.
Whaling is unethical.
I addressed the issue of legality. Some people believe it is illegal, I was confirming that it is legal.
My opponent's source for the information on humaneness of harpoon guns is not exactly telling the whole truth. In Norway, which has the best record for humane kills, 1,677 Minke whales were killed in the 2000-2002 whaling seasons. Of these, 80% died instantaneously or very quickly, especially when shot in the cranial region or near the heart. 
My opponent states that her first claim regards the effects of whaling on the environment, yet she says that "this argument also justifies the regulated murder (of man)". Of course, when a whale dies, its relatives are affected. But this applies to any wild animal killed, including land animals hunted with rifles, as well as to whales who die naturally. Any intelligent animal is capable of recovering from grief. Hunting a few non-endangered whales barely affects the ecosystem at all. Of course, this is different when hunting an endangered species. I recommend to Iceland and Japan to cease Fin whale hunting to let stocks recover.
Cultural norms differ form place to place. Here in the United States, we find it evil to kill whales or primates. Yet we kill by the thousand cows and pigs. Both of which are quite intelligent. We also kill octopi and people hunt deer. Many animals we kill for food are intelligent to a degree. Intelligence should not be a determining factor when killing animals for food because any animal that is sentient and can feel pain has the same right to not feel pain as any other. Is it okay to kill a stupid human being but not a smart one? Animals are animals as long as they feel. People are a kind of animal and predatory animals kill others for their own food. My opponent states that she accepts raising an animal for food, the argument being that the animal was intended to be made into food. But a wild pig and a farmed pig are both pigs. They feel the same pain and have the same intelligence. A "food pig" and a wild pig are the same animal with a different name. Yet it is okay to kill the first yet not hunt the other? I find this arbitrary. In fact, I prefer hunting the wild pig for the reason that it lives its whole life free, running about in the woods, having a grand old time, and one day, he is shot and dies. The farmed pig lives its life captive, in a cage, bored. That is disrespectful to the animal. It is the same with a whale. I will eat a wild hunted whale versus a tortured factory-farmed cow any day of the week. The farm births the pig, gives it no life at all, and kills it. Nature births the whale, gives it a good life, and the whaler takes the whale's life and gives it to people, as well as giving the whale's bones and unusable meat back to nature. To feed a thousand people, do you kill 50 sentient cows, or one whale?
 Report of the NAMMCO Expert Group Meeting on Assessment of Whale Killing Data. North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission
Adressing Pro’s Arguments:
“Hunting a few non-endangered whales[…]”
“Intelligence should not be a determining factor when killing animals for food because any animal that is sentient and can feel pain has the same right to not feel pain as any other.”
“To feed a thousand people, do you kill 50 sentient cows, or one whale?”
Adding the argument: Whaling is Unhealthy
Pro has not yet given an argument as to why whaling should be considered ethical, but given much reason to compare whaling to the unethical nature of our current practices. He has argued that whaling is less unethical than factory farming: “The farmed pig lives its life captive, in a cage, bored. That is disrespectful to the animal. It is the same with a whale. I will eat a wild hunted whale versus a tortured factory-farmed cow any day of the week. The farm births the pig, gives it no life at all, and kills it. Nature births the whale, gives it a good life, and the whaler takes the whale's life and gives it to people [...]” I agree with pro on this entirely, which is why I support more ethical treatment of farmed animals and do not support factory farms. Pro has argued the claim "whailing is not unethical" but has not argued "whaling is ethical."
I will ignore the clear sustainability of whaling because my opponent is dodging the fact that it exists.
Compared to the million whales there are in the world, 2,000 is a small amount. It is equivalent to one whale killed per 500 in the wild.
The difference between the practices Con names and whaling is that they are both inherently cruel. As I mentioned, whaling is not. I also believe that indigenous tribes should utilize modern weapons in their whaling versus the old-fashioned implements currently in use for this very reason. They are also both against human beings by other human beings. Harming a human in these ways helps nobody. Whaling provides food and jobs for hundreds to thousands of people.
Humans do NOT have the right to life over every other species. We have earned the privilege to life over all others. We are the most intelligent beings and thus evaded being killed by any other large animal. I say large because mosquitos and bacteria still harm us, but not to extinction or endangerment. This is called being the dominant species. We are capable of hunting any animal we choose, and some of us choose to hunt whales for food. Animals kill others for food, and humans are simply the dominant animal in this world. All sentient animals have the right not to suffer. That includes people. We also have a moral obligation to maintain this world we effectively control so to not have animals suffer. No intelligent species excepting a very few people practices cannibalism and is always seen as taboo. Modern humans tend to fall under the category of "intelligent species". Yes, humans "only" have our superior intelligence. But it is a grand weapon in the fight for ecological dominance. Intelligence does not, however, "put us above all others". It simply allowed humans to put ourselves above all others. We do not necessarily deserve to be on top. Yet, we clearly did. And that is never going to change. As I said, when hunting a non-human animal, any sentient species has the right to not suffer, and a smarter animal has the same right to not suffer as a dumb animal.
My opponent states that it is "not okay to kill anything". She states that it is more unethical to kill a human than a chimpanzee, and has earlier stated that whales and chimps are similarly intelligent. Yet she believes killing a whale is akin to killing a human? Anyway, whales are certainly intelligent. Yet as I have stated, pigs are also intelligent. Yet we cruelly raise and slaughter millions of them every year. Unfortunately for my opponent, such a moral hierarchy does not really work out in the real world. However, it is in a way, existent for whaling. Whales are hunted in very small numbers compared to other, less intelligent animals. My opponent and I disagree over which life is better: a free roaming whale, who has lived a good life, and is quickly killed, or a factory-farmed pig, raised in a filthy cage, and has no life at all, and is quickly killed. I believe it is more ethical to allow the whale's good life, and end it, than to raise a pig so disgustingly that it has no life to be ended. I apologize for sounding so biased against farming pigs, but sadly this is the only way to economically raise enough to feed so many people. I do not believe it at all ethical to raise a pig so that it has no sense of life's value. Would you rather die having enjoyed a good life or die having suffered through a bad one? Keep in mind that a hunted whale and a farmed pig will both someday die.
Those 50 cows live with no chance at a good life. They have lived a bad life. You take the life away from fifty animals, each of which is sentient and feels pain. The whale lived a good life, and there is no evidence that they are capable of "looking forward" into life. It knows only that it has been happy, and it is killed quickly. This "condition" con describes is completely arbitrary, and literally means that the farmer says "this cow should die" and it is somehow now ethically acceptable? Cows absolutely have self-awareness and feel pain. I don't think my opponent can find a source that states they don't. One cow or a thousand bugs do not feed a thousand people for very long. The point is that for a given amount of people eating beef, you have to kill many more animals than for the same people eating whale. And my opponent states it is "not okay to kill anything". Then nothing is really okay, but the cows' situation is 50x as "not okay."
While a farmer is certainly responsible for ethically treating his animals, he rarely does. Modern farming is not what we all wish it was. The farmer is also, as my opponent seems to have omitted, responsible for killing the pig when slaughter-time rolls along. The hunter hunts an animal that he knows has lived a natural and good life in the wild, and kills it humanely. The circle of life can be drawn many ways. "The farmer gives to the pig, the pig gives back" "Nature gives to the pig, the hunter, and then back to itself" "Nature gives to the whale, many many people, then back to itself." Any whale or any pig is better off with what nature gives than anything man can provide. Nature is the perfect farmer, and we are the farmer's family.
I would encourage my opponent to find a source stating that baleen whales (the subject of this debate) exhibit self-awareness. All I could find regarded dolphins. Many animals have fascinating systems of communication, such as squid or frogs. Yet many people kill them for food. Much of my opponent's information on intelligence refers to dolphins. Yes, dolphins are extremely intelligent, but killing them is another debate altogether. Baleen whales and dolphins are more different than one might think. Not much research has been done on the intelligence of baleen whales.
My opponent's health argument's source seems to have omitted some kinds of meat. In fact, in a chart I found, all baleen whale meat does not have dangerous levels of mercury. Blubber, liver, and certain other kinds of tissue however, do. Virtually all meat samples contain less than one half of a microgram of mercury per gram of meat. This is similar to or less than the levels in most commercial fish. However, in Japan, some companies illegally sell dolphin meat as baleen whale meat. Dolphins are very high trophic feeders and contain hazardous levels of mercery as well as other toxins.
My opponent seems to believe that all killing of animals is unethical, and thus to her, whaling certainly must be. The ethics of eating meat are a debate in themselves. I however, believe that killing of animals is ethical because it is what animals do to survive, and human beings are animals. As long as it is done in a non-cruel fashion, and the meat is used to feed people, and the species hunted is not endangered, there is no problem with it. I consider it more ethical than farming because the whale lives a happy life in the wide open ocean, and then inevitably, death comes to it one day. Whereas in farming, despite the fact that the animal is destined for unnatural death, (which the animal has no awareness of), the animal does not live a free and natural life prior to its death. I am referring to real life farms here. We all wish farms were like Old MacDonald's, but they simply are not.
Simply put, when a happy animal is hunted, my opponent does not like that the happy life was cut short, while I like that the animal was happy during the life it was given. I feel better knowing the animal lived well rather than knowing that it wanted to die.
Pro made it clear in round two and three that he does not support the hunting of an endangered species. I did not address it in round three, as it was made clear that hunting endangered species is irrelevant to pro’s stance, and agreed upon by both. It does happen, but neither pro nor I support it and it was not addressed again. I’ve made the following clear for round two and three, yet it remains an issue in round four. So, I will repeat myself – hopefully clearer.
“I feel better knowing the animal lived well rather than knowing that it wanted to die.”
I agree with pro 100% on this. Which is why I have been arguing entirely against Ronald McDonald’s factory farm (FF: Factory farmed). My argument only supports the comfortable quality of life on Old McDonald’s quality farm (QF: quality farmed). Therefor, our arguments pertaining to piglet’s preferred life are not on the same page:
Con: Nonexistent < QF
Pro: FF < Wild
To be on the same page, based on past arguments, I believe we can agree on one of the following:
FF < Nonexistent < Wild < QF
FF < Nonexistent < QF < Wild
If it is agreeable that factory farming and nonexistence are the lesser options, then we can focus on the following:
Wild < QF
QF < Wild
The validity of either claim can be debated in another place. To save time and debate space, let us assume they each (wild & QF) have equally contented lives.
Wild = QF
Now, as I have said, the QF pig would not have been given life without the needs of man. The wild pig however, needs nothing from man.
QF pig needs man, man needs QF pig.
Wild pig needs nature, man needs wild pig.
That is where I believe there is a fundamental ethical difference between quality farmed meat and hunted meat.
Now, back to whaling…
In response to pro:
Though I disagree that whaling can be labeled as “humane,” I agree with con that modern technology proves less inhumane than the earlier weapons used. Therefor, I will drop the argument of killing method unless further addressed.
As for sustainability, my argument stands. Regardless of how bad whaling is for the species, whaling is not good for the species. So long as quotas are being correctly regulated, sustainability – though not a justification for whaling but rather more of an insurance policy – should not change. However, the need’s of man are ever increasing.
1986-Ban on commercial whaling, Japan files for objection
1988- Japan lifts objection and begins scientific research. Quota: 308 minke whales per year
1994 Quota: 408 minke whales per year
2000 Quota: 408 minke whales, 50 byrdes whales, 10 sperm whales per year
2002 Quota: 458 minke whales, 50 byrdes whales, 10 sperm whales, 50 sei whales per year
These marginal increases continued yearly until 2005 with a quota of 935 mink whales, 50 humpback whales, and 50 fin whales. 
These are only Japan’s stats, but the overall stats have been increasing since the ban, which you can see on the graph illustrated (http://www.earthtimes.org... ). Thankfully, as you can see in the graph, media and activist groups like Sea Shepherd have proven successful in most recent years.
Sustainability is also an issue when evaluated relatively. There are about 1.5 billion cows in the world . According to pro, there are one million whales in the world, which means there are about 1500 cows for every whale. The average cow in the US is 610 kg and mink whales (most often hunted) on the heavier side, 6,800 kg [3, 4]. Twelve cows make up the weight of one minke whale. Statistically, killing one whale is more of an environmental impact than killing twelve cows.
“Whaling provides food and jobs for hundreds to thousands of people.”
There are many unethical industries that provide for man. Ie, factory farming. The end is not justified by the means here.
We have not earned the privilege to life over all others, we were born into a species that gave themselves the right to life [round 3 source 4]. If humans do not have the right to life, then murder is permissible. If our intelligence is what put us on top, then there is value in intelligence. If there is value in intelligence, then those with more intelligence are of greater value. If whales are more intelligent than cows, then whales are more valuable.
“She states that it is more unethical to kill a human than a chimpanzee, and has earlier stated that whales and chimps are similarly intelligent. Yet she believes killing a whale is akin to killing a human?” This is the strawman fallacy. Please reread my statements.
If there is no moral hierarchy of species in the ‘real world’ as pro suggests, then killing a zoo full of mammals would be the moral equivalent to weeding your garden, washing your hands to kill bacteria, or flooding ant piles. Furthermore, killing a pig would be a moral equivalent to murder. However this does not seem to be the case, so there is some moral hierarchy.
“Self-awareness, suffering and a social culture along with high mental abilities are a hallmark of cetaceans, an order grouping more than 80 whales, dolphins and porpoises, say marine biologists.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk...) this includes all baleen whales.
Pro appeals to tradition (http://en.wikipedia.org...) when comparing the communication of whales to that of a frog or octopus. I’m sure the ethics of hunting an intelligent species could be an entire debate in itself, but frogs and squid are not mammals and are unrelated to my argument.
Furthermore, commercial whaling is not in fact legal, and japan is now aware of this. (http://uk.whales.org...)
Of course, no harvesting of anything from nature is "good" for the species. Picking a flower, stepping on an ant, all these things technically harm the species. But as long as they are done in sufficiently small amounts, the species will survive and thrive, as Minke whales have. While the needs of man are indeed increasing, whales will not likely be over-hunted and here's why: whales are currently hunted as an exotic meat. Few people eat it regularly, but many people eat it a little. It is a niche industry. And it is far easier to factory-farm twelve cows than it is to kill one whale. This is why unfortunately, factory-farming will likely fill the gap.
I can't say I agree with Japan's high quotas. Especially those of large whales. I believe they should cut the quota, particularly because they hunt in the Antarctic, in which whale stocks have not been shown to be as large as in the north atlantic. Diplomacy is the way to do this, though. Not by terrorism by people such as sea shepherd. They only make Japan furious with anti-whalers and do nothing to save whales long-term.
Yes, statistically, killing a whale is more of an impact than twelve cows. But many more than twelve cows are killed for every whale hunted. And cows are not generally a wild species. We effectively regulate the number of cows in the world. Whales are wild and sustainability is more of an issue for them.
While con sees whaling as an unethical industry, comparable to factory farming in terms of ethics, many whalers do not have much of a fallback option for work. For example, Norwegians in Lofoten. They whale during the summer and fish during the winter. Without whaling, they can only fish. And this is not much of a lucrative field because of big companies controlling the market. This phenomenon has been seen. The decreased demand for whale meat has crippled entire communities and their culture.
Our species gave the right to life to ourselves. That is basically earning it because we were capable of such a gift to ourselves. Our intelligence did not give us the right to life, we used our intelligence to give it to ourselves. Other animals may have intelligence, but they are incapable of protecting themselves from predators. In the real world, sentience is the determining factor. Humans are the only species where our intelligence is enough to really protect us. If an animal was intelligent enough to protect itself from being hunted, we would not be hunting it. All animals capable of feeling pain should be treated so they don't feel pain. Animals that do not feel pain or are not sentient are treated the same: without regard. It is not necessarily ethically right that humans are the dominant species, but we are. Cannibalism is different and is not practiced by many intelligent species. Whales may be more intelligent than cows, yet they are both sentient and must be treated equally.
The moral hierarchy is not non-existent. It is simply not as con suggests it is. I believe it ranks: Humans, pain-feeling sentient beings, non-pain-feeling sentient beings, non-sentient beings. All mammals fall into the second tier. If killing a whale is evil because it disrupts the whale's pod, ends an intelligent life, etc etc. then killing a wild cow is just as evil, for the same reasons. The cow may not be as smart as the whale, but a life it is nonetheless. Just to clarify, I believe that killing animals is ethical as long as it is for the benefit of people. I argue that killing a whale is no different.
Many, many animals are shown to be very intelligent, yet some are used for food. http://www.nbcnews.com...
Pigs are eaten, octopi are eaten, squirrels are shot as vermin, etc. I do not support the slaughter of dolphins, due to mercury in the meat and currently inhumane killing methods, but they are much more intelligent than most baleen whales, which are most commonly hunted. Baleen whales have much simpler brains, because they do not hunt for food. They just swim through it.
Commercial whaling is completely legal. The IWC moratorium is merely a recommendation to IWC member states to halt commercial whaling. If a country doesn't want to obey it, no one's making them. Japan's activities are illegal because they were abusing a scientific permit and hunting in a protected area. Norway and Iceland's commercial whaling is completely legitimate. They hunt in their own domestic waters and have registered objections to the moratorium.
alyfish126 forfeited this round.
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