Of all life on Earth, none captures our imagination and political attention like the giants of both land and water. The shear scale of some creatures are enough to overcome the normal political blocks that often encumber conservation efforts. Thanks to that bias, two giants of the deep represent some of our best successes - the whales of the oceans and the giant freshwater strugeon.
Recent decades have seen huge rebounds in whale populations, and this week it was reported that the sturgeon are returning to the Great Lakes. To date, strong conservation and protection has remained in place as North American sturgeon populations slowly increase, but in the case of the world's whales, stronger populations have led to more adamant calls for the return of commercial whaling, with Iceland just announcing that it will export whale meat for the first time in 15 years.
The move is the latest by the international whaling community who have been engaged in a long term, focused effort to lift the International Whaling Commission's moratorium. This past spring, the IWC voted in favour of the eventual return of commercial whaling largely on the strength of Japan's policy of offering foreign aid and IWC membership dues to poorer nations in return for pro-whaling votes.
Prudence and sound conservation efforts are bringing these giants back from the brink of extinction. In the face of commercial demand, it is those same efforts that will ensure their continued survival. The world should be keeping a close eye as Japan and the pro-whaling lobby continue to dismantle the safeguards built up over the past decades, and Canada would do well to join the IWC and add their voice in support of conservation.
Note: Yes I know a whale is not a fish. Cut me some slack.