Whaling demand is virtually non-existent, so Iceland has decided to take the sensible step of not issue new quotas to allow whaling for the year.

While it may be a shock to some, whaling still occurs around the world today, even in non-survivalist situations.  While certain indigenous people, such as Inuits, hunt these animals for survival, large commercial whaling still operates, mainly out of Japan.

Fortunately, whale demand is virtually non-existent, today, even in Japan.  The International Herald Tribune recent reported that Iceland made an announcement, that due to extremely low demand for whale meat, they were not going to issue new quotas, to allow the hunt for whales in 2008.

New Zealand's conservation minister, Chris Carter, a strong critic of whaling worldwide, commended the Icelandic decision, and was quoted by the article saying:
"Japan is believed to have 40,000 tones (44,000 short tons) of whale meat in storage in spite of a move to serve it in lunches in Japanese schools and using it in pet food"
This is a rather shocking allegation.  If this is truly the case, hopefully Japan will soon cut back its wasteful levels of whaling, from a merely economic standpoint, if nothing else. 

In Japan's defense, the practice has been long performed, evidenced by the ancient Japanese proverb:
"There's nothing to throw away from a whale except its voice.
"While Japan once had nothing to throw away from the whale, today they appear almost ready to throw away the entire whale--thousands of pounds of it-- due to its low economic value.  Whaling peaked in Japan in 1962, and has since declined.  Despite harsh criticism and economic collapse of the whaling industry, Japan's whaling businesses still kill many endangered and threatened whale species yearly.

Whales and dolphins show a large amount of folding in their cerebral cortex and complex behaviors, both are indicative of intelligence in humans.  Further Humpback whales and Bowhead whales create complex songs that they change and modify over time.  Killer whales also have been observed teaching their young hunting practices.

The large amount of evidence supporting whales and dolphins possessing a high level of intelligence, and the creatures' unique nature as the only mammals to spend their entire natural lives underwater makes it seem senseless to kill them, other than purely for survival.

Now that Iceland has joined the majority of the industrialized world in limiting and banning this practice, hopefully Japan, the last big whaler, will finally be inspired to follow suit.  Sometimes the idealism of environmental conservation and realism of economic common sense really can find common ground.

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