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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What lies beneath . . .

I'm not trying to become the voice of the animal rights movement in Korea and, while I see so many things wrong with how animals are treated here, I'd like to see people treated better first. Including the man who sleeps in the subway tunnel near my home and Miss Park, the senior citizen who picks up cigarette butts and overly inebriated U.S servicemen to survive.

But . . .

I was asked to write a feature last week (online tomorrow) on a court case involving some dolphins and found myself incensed at how they were being treated. Then, yesterday, I edited a caption for a picture of a minke whale "accidentally"  found dead in a fisherman's net and auctioned off for more than $74,000. 

Having just completed the dolphin story (dolphins and whales are both cetaceans and covered by the same legal document here), this seemed odd so I did a little research. I found that selling "bycatch" (accidentally caught in nets) whale meat is completely legal in Korea and the amount of such whale meat sold may equal that which Japan catches in its "research" hunts.

I'm not blaming the fishermen, who mainly make a subsistence income, as $70,000 plus is a lot of money for a mistake, but it seems there's something essentially wrong here. I'm also not inviting the moron who fronts Sea Shepherd to come here and sort it out (as an ocean sailor, I think he should be charged with criminal negligence for his lack of concern for his crew's safety or training).

For the record, I also don't mind Koreans eating dogmeat, when it's bred for that purpose and killed humanely (I don't eat it myself because the killing is usually done by beating it to death in the misguided belief that the subsequent increase in adrenaline tenderizes the meat). I live on a farm at home (organic) and we eat our animals, but we give them a good life beforehand and try to minimize any suffering. (Again for the record, vegans and vegos, I have no issue with anyone needing my flesh for sustenance when I die either - that was a conversation had while becalmed in the Indian Ocean many years ago.)

But I do wonder if the Western world is overly focused on the wrong issue here. (Bait and switch, anyone?) Again, writing as an ocean sailor who knows the freedom of the seas, should we not be more concerned with marine mammals with brains larger than ours?

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