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Marine Ecosystem & Effects of the Commercial Whaling Industry
Sarthak Mishra
Content Writer @ Earth Root Foundation, New Delhi
(Published on: 10 February, 2022 @08 PM)

“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea.”

                                                                               — Sylvia Earle


Marine life, or sea life or ocean life, is the flora, animals, and different organisms that live with inside the saltwater of the ocean, or the brackish water of coastal estuaries. Many marine microorganisms produce oxygen and sequester carbon. Marine life forms guard shorelines and some marine organisms even help to create new land.

The ocean is one of the most important ecosystems on Earth, and it is the planet’s life support system. The oceans play a vital role for all existence on Earth, along with humans. More than half of the oxygen, we breathe is produced by ocean life. Phytoplankton is an autotrophic element of the plankton community and a key part of ocean and freshwater ecosystems. They are tiny marine plants that live on the sea’s surface, photosynthesize and produce more than 60% of Earth’s oxygen.

The ocean supports an incredible range of life. Scientists estimate that over a million species inhabit the marine environment; however, we've yet to discover and catalogue over 80% of them. Marine species like whales, sharks, sea turtles, coral, salmon, and many others are essential for keeping balanced and thriving ocean ecosystems. We should work to protect marine species populations from decline and extinction, study their behaviour to apprehend their health and environment, and examine and monitor human activities that would have an effect on them.

Ocean pollution happens when industrial, agricultural, and residential waste, particles, noise, excess carbon dioxide, or invasive organisms enter the ocean. Ocean pollution can have dangerous consequences that are not only threatening to marine life but also to the entire planet.

Whales are essential to the food chain and play a crucial role in the biological pump and energy flow of all marine life. Whales are still being hunted and each bit of their dead bodies is used for various purposes. The nineteenth century noticed a growth within side the whaling economic system without any control. Whales were slaughtered in nearly every coastal country. Whale oil not only illuminated houses and factories but additionally fuelled the Industrial Revolution.

The whales are a keystone species. The entire marine ecosystem will be at risk of falling apart if whales go extinct. Commercial whaling has grievously depleted the whale population, starting a sequence reaction of destruction among the lower marine animals in the food chain. Whales, being marine mammals, need to return to the surface to breathe. When they swim from the depths to the surface, they unintentionally push planktons up on the surface, plentiful in sunshine and oxygen, permitting these critters greater time to reproduce. The more the plankton, the higher is the working of the marine food chain.

Whale protection for certain whale species started out in the 1930s after the outcomes of whaling on whale populations became extra apparent. The southern right whale was protected in Australian waters in 1935 after more than 25,000 individuals had been killed in Australian and New Zealand waters between 1822 and 1930. By the late 1930s, more than 45,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling due to the intense depletion of most of the whale stocks. Canada, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, the USA, and the Danish dependencies of the Faroe Islands and Greenland are still practicing whaling in the 21st century. Countries that aid commercial whaling, significantly Iceland, Japan, and Norway, desire to lift the IWC moratorium on certain whale stocks for hunting.

Whale oil is used little these days and present-day whaling is basically, accomplished for food: for pets, fur farms, sled dogs, and humans, and for making carvings of tusks, teeth, and vertebrae. From commercially hunted minces, meat is eaten by humans or animals, and blubber is rendered down mainly to reasonably-priced business merchandise which includes animal feed or, in Iceland, as a gas supplement for whaling ships. 

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the ICRW to determine hunting quotas and different applicable topics primarily based totally on the findings of its Scientific Committee. Non-member countries aren't bound by its guidelines and conduct their personal management programs. It regulates the hunting of thirteen species of notable whales and has not reached a consensus on whether it could regulate smaller species. 

Since the International Whaling Commission moratorium on commercial whaling came into place in 1986, there was a small change in the fight to stop this. Now whale populations have begun to recover. The southern right whale, which almost became extinct by the middle of the 19th century, is now displaying signs of recovery. In the latest years, the whale population has increased on the southern Australian coast, where breeding and socializing take place. The whales then head south to feed in the nutrient-rich sub-Antarctic waters.

Although the whale population has increased, most species remain in the threatened category. It would require a collective effort to completely stop whaling and restore the healthy whale population. Proper action is required to eliminate this and save our oceans from many future hazardous situations.

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