The International Whaling Commission (IWC) does not regulate hunts of pilot whales like these animals taken in the North Atlantic's Faroe Islands. And despite the IWC's commercial whaling moratorium on larger species, several nations still hunt them in significant numbers, including Japan, Norway, and Iceland.
World Wildlife Fund policy analyst Leigh Henry attended the IWC's 64th annual meeting this June and July and reports that another nation looks likely to join that group soon.
"South Korea stated their intent to propose conducting a scientific whaling program at the 2013 meeting, and that is a huge deal," she said. "It's essentially another country planning to unilaterally conduct whaling with no oversight from the IWC."
In the 1970s and 1980s, before the commercial moratorium, South Korea harvested some 1,000 whales a year, Henry added. "They've respected the moratorium and haven't taken any whales since," she added.
"But they have understandably become frustrated watching Norway, Iceland, and Japan conduct their whaling. South Korea has been a good player and they've followed all the rules but after they put this proposal forward they can largely do what they'd like because the IWC doesn't have to OK scientific whaling."