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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The coexistence of whaling and whale watching in a traditional whaling region:

The coexistence of whaling and whale
watching in a traditional whaling region:
The case of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
Shio Segi1
The discussion about the relationship between
whaling and whale watching is polarised. Antiwhaling
groups believe these two activities cannot
coexist, and continue to urge that whaling be
ended, stressing the economic benefits to be
obtained from the sustainable use of cetacean
resources. Examples from the Dominican
Republic, the Bahamas and other Caribbean locations
(Hoyt 1999), and from Vava’u, Tonga (Orams
1999), attempt to demonstrate the superiority of
whale watching.
In contrast, whaling groups, composed mainly of
anthropologists, economists and sociologists, seek
coexistence. They have sounded the alarm on
socially and culturally negative impacts caused by
converting from whaling to whale watching, and
have demonstrated the arbitrariness and overestimation
of anti-whaling groups’ economic analysis
and falsehood of their outcomes. However, both
groups place value on economic effects to greater
or lesser degree.
Whale watching has been conducted in 87 countries
and territories worldwide, attracting over
nine million boat- and land-based tourists annually.
In 1988, the value of the global whale watching
industry was an estimated USD 300 million
and a further USD 1049 million was gained from
indirect tourism expenditure (Hoyt 2000).
Although these estimates are still disputed, it is
clear that the direct and indirect economic
impacts of whale watching are extremely important.
Further, about 100,000 tourists annually
participate in domestic whale watching tours,
and many more participate in tours overseas
(Hoyt 2000).
Owing to IWC’s commercial whaling moratorium,
the local economies of Japanese whaling centres
have been devastated and their societies disrupted
by the exodus of young people in search of
employment and careers; and, there is little
prospect of change. Although Japan has campaigned
for a resumption of whaling at IWC, the
prospect for an increase in the coastal whale quota
is bleak, to say nothing of full resumption.
Under these circumstances it has been thought
that whale watching could become a fast growing
tourist industry with a large potential to resuscitate
the economies and societies of the traditional
whaling communities. But so far no whale watching
businesses have developed in traditional
Japanese whaling communities.
In this article I examine the traditional whaling
community of Taiji, in Wakayama Prefecture, to
clarify why a whale watching industry has not
developed in traditional whaling communities. I
also examine the processes and factors regarding
the coexistence of whale watching and whaling in
the wider area of southern Wakayama Prefecture,
and its application to other whaling communities.
1. School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, 2-1 Gakuen, Sanda, Hyogo Prefecture Japan 669-1337.

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