The Instigator
bluesteel
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
Korashk
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

the Japanese should not hunt whales

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/3/2010 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,475 times Debate No: 13260
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (8)

 

bluesteel

Pro

The topic is based on the show Whale Wars

I prefer not to write a case until I have an opponent. My opponent can choose to post a case in round 1 or can simply say "challenge accepted" and I'll begin the argumentation in round 2.
Korashk

Con

I accept the challenge and await my opponent's arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
bluesteel

Pro

1. It's illegal

The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986. However, Japan's government-sponsored Institute for Cetacean Research, under the guise of "scientific research," kills approximately "1,000 whales in the Arctic annually." [1] The Japanese claim that they need tissue samples from the whales to track pod size and migration patterns. However, true marine scientists would use methods like tagging and examining feces to study the whales, instead of killing them. In addition, the sheer scale of the killing is far beyond what is necessary to sustain scientific research. Lastly, much of the whale meat ends up on commercial markets, invalidating the Institute's claims. In fact, Japan hunts so many whales that there is not enough demand for the meat to meet the supply. This is a classic example of why subsidized industries are bad – they overproduce.

2. Whale meat tastes gross

Japanese has tried really hard to get people to eat whale meat – it gives whale burgers to children in school lunches and it hands out pamphlets singing the praises of the meat as a "national heritage." However, the Chicago-Sun Tribune reports that "Tokyo has a dilemma: By rapidly expanding its whale hunt, Japan kills more of the giant mammals than its consumers care to eat. The result is an unprecedented glut of whale meat. Prices -- once about $15 a pound -- are plunging, inventories are bursting and promoters are scrambling to get Japanese to eat more whale. It's a tough sell. ‘To put it simply, whale meat tastes horrible,' said 30-year-old Kosuke Nakamura, one of the diners at a Hana No Mai restaurant in Tokyo." [2] The price has fallen to as low as one third of the traditional price, and Japan is increasingly resorting to forcing children to eat the meat in school lunches because when given a choice, no one wants the meat. Change.org's section on Sustainable Food reports that "the Institute of Cetacean Research sold its whale meat to local municipalities at one-third of the traditional market price. The Institute and Japan's Fisheries Agency continue to hawk their discounted whale meat to schools and medical institutions, a sign that the general public is just not interested in the meat." [3]

3. Mercury poisoning

Rachel Carson's seminal work on DDT in her book Silent Spring exposed something called biomagnification, a biological rule that species higher up the food chain will have higher concentrations of toxins than species lower down. If a certain type of fish contains mercury, for example, and a dolphin eats thousands of those fish each year, the dolphin will have much higher levels of mercury. Since the whale is quite far up the food chain, it has higher mercury levels than even swordfish, which, in the U.S. market, is considered to have the highest levels. The fact that Japan mostly forces children, who are most at risk for mercury toxicity-related problems (like stunted brain development), to eat the whale meat is a scary trend. Change.org continues, "According to a survey released on Saturday, since 2005, Japan's increasingly put whale meat back on school lunch menu . . . All that whale meat comes with a pretty deadly marinade — mercury. Large marine species like whales and dolphins contain astronomical levels of mercury, even more so than big fish like bluefin tuna, which frequently appear on seafood guides' ‘Avoid' list."

4. Bad for the whales

Whaling is pretty inhumane – according to The Times (UK), the Japanese use explosive harpoons that blow a huge chunk out of the whales, after which they bleed to death after approximately 15 minutes. [4] Dr. Harry Little, a ship physician on a whaling expedition, describes the killing process as follows, "If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck into its stomach and being made to pull a butcher's truck through the streets of London while it pours blood in the gutter, we shall have an idea of the present method of killing. The gunners themselves admit that if whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it." [5] Many whales are now an endangered species because of whaling. EcoKids reports that 7 of 11 whale species are now endangered. [6] Theoretically, Japan is supposed to hunt the non-endangered whales, but a recent documentary –called The Cove - uncovered illegally sold Japanese whale meat in a sushi restaurant in California. [7] Using DNA testing, Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center found that the meat was from an endangered species of whale. [8]

Whales have an extremely slow reproductive rate, considering that females give birth to only one calf at a time and the "pregnancy" lasts up to 16 months. [9] Fish Update explains the unique challenges that this long reproductive cycle poses to whale conservation. "Populations of nearly all the great whales remain at depressed levels, a legacy of the unsustainable whaling during the last two centuries. As long-lived mammals with slow reproductive cycles whales inevitably take several decades or more to recover from population depletion while some populations still survive as a few hundred individuals at the brink of extinction." [10]

In conclusion, the Japanese should not engage in whaling because they are in violation of international law, no one wants the whale meat, the children forced to eat the meat are in danger of mercury poisoning, the killing method is grotesque, and the whales are in danger of going extinct.

[1] http://news.blogs.cnn.com...

[2] http://www.highbeam.com...

[3] http://food.change.org...

[4] http://www.timesonline.co.uk...

[5] http://www.mywhaleweb.com...

[6] http://www.ecokids.ca...

[7] http://www.wired.com...

[8] http://www.usnews.com...

[9] http://www.whale-world.com...

[10] http://www.illegal-fishing.info...
Korashk

Con

I thank my opponent for creating this debate, and for posting well thought-out arguments. I hope this will be a great debate.

~~~~~~~
Rebuttals
~~~~~~~

/// 1. It's illegal ///

This contention implies that an actions state of legality should determine whether or not it ought take place. Ultimately it is a hollow contention because the resolution of the debate is about the morality of Japanese whaling. This is evidenced by the inclusion of the word "should." The law is not does not explicitly deal in morality. An action being illegal or legal does not make that action immoral or moral. For instance, at one point in time it was legal to keep black people as slaves. Does that make it moral to keep slaves? Another example is that in the early 1900s drinking alcohol was illegal. Does this make drinking alcohol immoral?

This contention is negated.
~~~

/// 2. Whale meat tastes gross ///

So what? Taste is a matter of preference. I may enjoy eating something that tastes horrible to my opponent. In fact, I probably do. This specific point does nothing to show that the Japanese should not hunt whales.

In this contention my opponent also states that the amount of whaling that the Japanese do brings in so much meat that there is a great surplus of supply. There is a simple solution to this problem. That solution is to hunt less whales.
~~~

/// 3. Mercury Poisoning ///

This is a very good point. Pretty much all fish has some mercury in it, and it is recommended that one limits their intake of fish [1]. However, with this contention my opponent mainly focuses on the notion that children in Japan are forced to eat the meat. While this may, or may not be true, it has little bearing on the debate. The only difference between whale meat and salmon in terms of mercury is that whale meat has more in it. The fact that most fish contains mercury is a commonly known and easily accessible information. If a person chooses to eat it, then they take that risk. It doesn't mean that the Japanese should stop hunting whales.

/// 4. Bad for the whales ///

Well, of course whaling is bad for whales. It by definition causes them to die. My opponent's main points in this contention are that the actual killing is inhumane, and that whaling is driving certain species of whales to extinction.

To the first point I ask, why is this is problem? While I may not personally condone the inhumane treatment of animals, I don't condemn it. The hunted whales basically become the property of the whaling company that catches them. Who am I to dictate what another person does with their property?

To the second point I ask my opponent to show how the extinction of whales would significantly and adversely affect human life on planet Earth. If their extinction wouldn't cause problems then I see no reason why hunting them to extinction would be a problem.
~~~

I await my opponent's response.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
bluesteel

Pro

I would like to begin by pointing out that my opponent offers no arguments of his own in favor of whaling, meaning he has no offense in this debate. We should weigh this round using a utilitarian framework, meaning that we should endorse the policy that does the greatest good for the greatest number. As long as I prove that there are negatives to whaling, since my opponent has proved no positives, I should win.

I do so by proving that upholding international laws is important, that children are forced to eat poisoned whale meat, and that it is bad for the survival of whales and the ecosystems that depend on them.

The only possible benefit of hunting whale is that a few people enjoy the meat, but I provided a whole contention to show that only a very tiny number of people enjoy the flavor of whale meat.

1. International law

While any individual international law may not seem extremely important on face, upholding the legitimacy of international laws and institutions is critical. As other nations, like Brazil, Russia, India, and China, gain more influence, political and military power, international laws will help hold the system together and prevent major conflicts from arising. Fareed Zakaria in The Post-American World gives advice to the United States that is just as instructive to Japan in this case. "Does the country want to push its own particular interests abroad, or does it want to create a structure of rules, practices, and values by which the world will be bound? In an age of rising new powers, the United States' overriding goal should be the latter – so that even as these countries get more powerful, they will continue to live within the framework of the current international system. This is the principal constraint we can construct to ensure that the rise of the rest does not turn into a downward competitive spiral, with great powers freelancing for their own interests and advantage in such a way as to destabilize the whole system. For such a system to work, we would have to adhere to these rules as well. If the United States freelances when its suits its purposes, why would China not do the same with regard to Taiwan? Or India with regard to Pakistan? If we are not bound by the rules, why should they be?" [1] If Japan chooses to freelance in the area of whaling and claim to be an exception to the rule because whaling is a "national heritage," then the value of international laws will be eroded and other nations will claim exceptions to other international laws in the future. Large world problems, like global warming for example, cannot be solved without the legitimacy of international laws and institutions.

In response to my opponent, "should" does not connote morality; it asks whether a policy action is desirable. Under my utilitarian framework, slavery should be disallowed because making slavery illegal did a much greater good (allowed freedom and equal rights to blacks vs. economic profits to slaveholders), and accrued to a larger number of people (there were more slaves than slaveholders). Prohibition hurt the 70% of Americans who drank liquor, so removing Prohibition did the greatest good to the greatest number.

In addition, my opponent has yet to prove that under any sort of standard that slaughtering whales inhumanely is a moral right. If he does show that, I would assert that any such belief system is morally bankrupt.

2. Whale meat tastes gross

Japan cannot hunt fewer whales because each whaling ship costs millions and millions of dollars to operate. The industry is not profitable, which is why the government subsidizes the whaling industry in Japan and the whaling fleets feel it necessary to hunt as many whales as possible, in order to justify the inordinate expense of operating an exploratory ship, 2 harpoon boats, and a factory trawler. [2] Whale meat will continue to be wasted or forced upon children in Japan because there is so much excess meat and so few consumers actually enjoy whale meat.

3. Save the children

I thank my opponent for agreeing that my point here is very good. My opponent agrees that being higher up the food chain, whales contain inordinate amounts of mercury. He also agrees with the evidence I cited before proving that Japan is forcing an increasing amount of whale meat upon children because no one else will eat it. This practice is unfair because children are a captive audience – if their parents don't pack them a brown bag lunch, they are forced to eat the whale meat when it is on the cafeteria menu. Mercury poisoning will stunt their brain development and could even kill them. Even if children were given other choices, which in many school cafeterias they are not, they are definitely not informed by the school lunch ladies of the possible side effects of eating whale meat. And if you watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution you'll know that nearly all parents are unaware of what their children are being served for school lunch.

Japan should get rid of the unprofitable government subsidized whaling industry so that it does not need to force increasing amounts of undesirable whale meat upon school children. Forcing children to eat poisoned meat in order to "cut your losses" when no one else buys the meat doesn't seem very moral to me.

4. Bad for whales

According to the University of Western Australia's philosophy department, there are moral concerns with inhumane slaughter techniques because they cause pain to animals. [3] If the animal cannot be slaughtered humanely, and we can eat something else instead, a utilitarian framework tells us that we do a much greater good by not killing the animal inhumanely, and this should outweigh the fact that it affects a smaller group.

But the extinction of endangered whale species has much broader implications. Whales are critical to the life cycle of ecosystems and are considered a keystone species. According to Dr. Deepa Maheshwari, "A keystone species is a species that has a disproportionate effect on its environment relative to its abundance . . . An ecosystem may experience a dramatic shift if a keystone species is removed, even though that species was a small part of the ecosystem by measures of biomass or productivity . . . Why is whale a keystone species? Most species of whale take the place at the top of the food web/chain and therefore are responsible for keeping the numbers of their prey down as they consume such large numbers of their prey. If whales decreased, prey population increases, and consumption of food by the whales prey would increase until a point is reached where food is no longer available [and] in a couple of generations the whole ecosystem could collapse." [4] Maheshwari continues that "many of the fish species consumed by whales are not of commercial interest or suitable for human consumption. In most instances, whales are not in direct competition with fisheries." So whales are the only ones feeding on these prey animals and if whales go extinct, the prey animals will expand out of control, consuming all the resources in the ecosystem. In addition, Maheshwari points out that whales feed on plankton and that if plankton were not preyed upon, it would multiply much more quickly and add greater and greater amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.

For all the above reasons, the greatest good for the greatest number would be achieved if Japan ceased all whaling activity. It would uphold the international rules and norms that will be critical as more and more countries claim "great power" status. It would save children from being forced to eat mercury-laced whale meat during school lunches. And it would save a keystone species that is necessary to preserving the health of many of our planet's ecosystems.

[1] page 238

[2] Whale Wars

[3] http://www.philosophy.uwa.edu.au...

[4] http://www.scribd.com...
Korashk

Con

Well, I only have 16 minutes left to write a round, and I don't have time come up with adequate rebuttals to my opponent's points. So I'll just leave things at this and let the voters decide.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by paulbrevik 2 years ago
paulbrevik
To pro:

1. Whaling is NOT illegal. The IWC's moratorium is effectively a recommendation to member countries, and they can choose not to follow it if they don't want to. Norway has done this, and they break no laws. The IWC is not a lawmaking body.

2. Whale meat actually tastes good. That is why people hunt it. Just because some people don't like it doesn't mean no one does.

3. Your mercury example deals with dolphins: not baleen whales. Baleen whales are very low on the food chain. Just above plankton. This means they have much lower levels of mercury than dolphins and even some commonly eaten fish.

4. It is not necessarily inhumane. For example, Norway's hunters report an 80% instantaneous death rate. The average time to death is similar or less than big game animals shot with rifles. It is MUCH more humane than it used to be. Would you rather be shot in the neck with an exploding bullet or stabbed slowly to death with a fork?

Not all whale species are endangered. Minke whales, for example are extremely plentiful. Japan should stick to hunting these, and cut their quota. This argument doesn't help the case that whaling is bad, only that endangered whaling is bad. Minke whale populations are currently increasing.
Posted by Korashk 4 years ago
Korashk
Looking back I'm disappointed in my performance in this debate and am glad that I lost. I think my points were spot on, but some of them were unnecessary and/or insufficiently substantiated.
Posted by Korashk 6 years ago
Korashk
No, you should always phrase the resolution in a way that makes you Pro.
Posted by Postup10101 6 years ago
Postup10101
This confused me for a second. If he is going pro, He shouldve named it the Japenese should hunt whales, then vote con.
Posted by Koopin 6 years ago
Koopin
Korashk was winning until the end.
Posted by bluesteel 6 years ago
bluesteel
lol, and then this happens:
Posted by Loserboi 6 years ago
Loserboi
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by tejretics 7 months ago
tejretics
bluesteelKorashkTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con has no offense whatsoever, and relies on attacking Pro's case, but those are haphazard attacks. Con does nothing to rebut the point about it being harmful to the whales ~ which Pro powerfully defends by crafting an argument from morality. The point on legality is also easily extended in the final round, because whaling makes some difference in Japanese international relations, which is definitely offensive. Con basically concedes mercury poisoning, and concludes saying "it's an individual's choice," but lacking any offense from Con, there's no reason to believe that. The point about it tasting gross isn't all that offensive, but that doesn't matter. Clear, objective win for Pro.
Vote Placed by paulbrevik 2 years ago
paulbrevik
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Reasons for voting decision: I believe con is right, but he could have debated better.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter Votebombs.
Vote Placed by theTroll 6 years ago
theTroll
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WhoDaFoo4
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