January 03, 2019
Government officials in Japan announced the country will leave the International Whaling Commission and return to commercial whale hunting in July 2019. Carrie Byron, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Marine Programs, told WCSH the decision could have global impacts, including some here in Maine.
“Whales are global migrants,” she explained. "They’re travelling everywhere, so we need to be concerned.”
Byron says whales play an important role in our ecosystem.
“Most of these great whales feed at depth and when they come up to the surface to breath they are bringing nutrients with them," Byron told WCSH. "Nutrients in our ocean surface water stimulate the growth of phytoplankton.”
Byron says phytoplankton are responsible for producing half of the world’s oxygen.
According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Japan intends on hunting Bryde’s, Sei and Minke whales. All three have overlapping ranges in Maine waters and could potentially affect Maine’s whale watching industry.