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Whales capture the public's imagination like no other wild animal. They have played a central role in "the social construction of modern ecological thought." Indeed, the survival of whales has been a symbol of the environmental movement since the latter quarter of the twentieth century, when the "slogan 'save the whales' was a call to arms to save the planet from humanity's folly. " Stories about whale conservation implicate cultural clashes, interspecies morality, and global politics. They offer lessons in how not to manage a natural resource, and simultaneously show how both governmental and individual activism can overcome this mismanagement and give whales a chance at survival. These stories also show that the current international approach for the conservation of whales administered by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has failed to prevent substantial declines in whale stocks to a point where the survival of some species is uncertain. Major whaling countries like Norway, Russia, Japan, and Iceland have either opted out of this regulatory regime or taken advantage of various loopholes in the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) allowing the unregulated take of whales for scientific research or subsistence purposes.

Publication Citation

32 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 3-85 (2013)