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Über dieses Buch

International Marine Mammal Law is a comprehensive, introductory volume on the legal regimes governing the conservation and utilisation of marine mammals. Written as a textbook, it provides basic overviews of international conservation law, which enable the reader to understand the greater implications of governance of a specific group of species. Paired with biological information on some marine mammal species, the international regimes for whales, seals and polar bears are explored — either as part of global regimes of international environmental governance or as regimes that were specifically designed for them. The book concludes with outlooks on the future of international marine mammal law, particularly in light of Japan’s withdrawal from the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in July 2019.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Why an Introduction to International Marine Mammal Law?

Abstract
I was born in Germany in 1980—a year when the Voyager probe proved the existence of the Saturn moon Janus and when the US Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics. Of course, many other things happened, but all I was interested in was eating, drinking and sleeping. I was still a toddler when in 1982 when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) decided to put a halt on the commercial hunt for whales in order for them to recover. This so-called ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling is probably one of the most far-reaching decisions the IWC has ever made. The reason is rather simple: while it is supported by the majority of the members of the IWC, it is far from ever having been a unanimous decision. Until today, the moratorium constitutes one of the—if not the—most contentious issues within the Commission. I have come across many statements in the German- and English-language media which claim that ‘the world has made whaling illegal’ and therefore that ‘whales are protected under international law.’ Also in discussions that are ongoing in social circles—actual or electronic—countries like Japan, which has always pushed for a resumption of sustainable commercial whaling, is often portrayed as the outlaw, the free-rider that ignores the world’s wish to end the lethal and commercial use of whales.
Nikolas Sellheim

2. Marine Mammals: Some Basics

Abstract
The focus of this book rests on a group of mammals, which are commonly known as marine mammals since their habitats can be found in the marine environment. Under this category fall five different orders: whales (Cetacea); seals (Pinnipedia); the polar bear (Ursus maritimus); sea cows (Sirenia); and otters (Lutrinae). Especially the latter has played a fundamental role in the colonisation process of the American Arctic since otter furs were a much sought-after trade good which led to Russian traders, settlers and colonisers setting foot in Alaska. Since, amongst other things, the trade in otter furs was for several reasons not sustainable and consequently not sufficiently profitable, Russia lost interest in Alaska and sold it to the United States in 1867. Yet, both otters and sea cows will only play a minor role in this book since they no longer play a prominent role in international law.
Nikolas Sellheim

3. Marine Mammals and Humans

Abstract
Ever since I saw my first whale, I have been fascinated by these animals. Technically speaking, it was a small cetacean, a harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), that I saw lying dead on a beach in western Denmark. Where I grew up, in north central Germany, we certainly did not have any whales and therefore seeing one was a quite life-changing experience. This feeling grew stronger even when I saw my first common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and then my first humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Iceland. After having seen these whales I immediately felt that these incredible creatures need to be protected. It was almost like my own epiphany. After all, the common discourse on whales and whaling has always contrasted their intellect, their social life and, indeed, musicality to their victimhood of commercial whale hunts, additionally affected by noise and other pollutants, being struck by ships and being caught as by-catch in fisheries. While, along with newer threats such as the ingestion of plastic, noise, pollution and ship strikes are undoubtedly major causes for the decline of whale populations, today, overhunting is arguably no longer such a cause. We will delve more into this issue below. So what is it that makes us focus so much on whaling and not other threats? Are all whales really intelligent, social and musical, almost comparable to humans? As we have seen in Chap. 2, this highly depends on the species and, concerning their population status, also on the subpopulation. The narrative of ‘the whale’ is, obviously, a gross oversimplification and neglects many biophysical features of different whale species. This predominantly Western depiction of whales was coined the ‘superwhale’ by the late Norwegian anthropologist Arne Kalland. He claimed that without distinction, reference is made to this particular ‘superwhale’, making it impossible to justify any utilitarian aspects of different whale species in different regions of the world.
Nikolas Sellheim

4. The Global Framework for the Environment and Marine Mammals

Abstract
In this chapter we will explore how the international community has been dealing with marine mammals and what multilateral regimes of relevance for marine mammal conservation exist. Broadly speaking, these fall within the realm of international environmental law and, to a lesser degree, the law of the sea. This is to say that their primary objective is the conservation (and from the outset sustainable use) of biodiversity through the protection and management of specific species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from 1973, the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) or the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Habitats (Bern Convention) both from 1979 are such examples. Moreover, we will get to know the Law of the Sea Convention, which treats marine mammals in a special manner.
Nikolas Sellheim

5. The International Legal Framework for Whales

Abstract
Whales, or cetaceans, are probably some of the most iconic species in international discourse, having provided countless generations worldwide with awe and wonder. Not surprisingly, oftentimes ‘the whale’ is considered as being protected under international law, meaning that any sort of whaling is considered to be illegal. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is thus perceived as being the watchdog over this alleged prohibition on whaling.
Nikolas Sellheim

6. The International Legal Framework for Seals

Abstract
Seals belong to the species of marine mammals with the longest history of legal regulation. Even though, at the time of writing in 2019, they do not play as prominent a role anymore as whales in international discourse, they have served as important conduits for legal change towards non-utilisation. By and large, the discourse on seals and whales shows significant overlaps concerning their perceived status of being endangered and a strong no-use narrative. A significant difference exists, however: there has never been the seal-equivalent to a ‘superwhale’—a ‘superseal’—that is social, intelligent and sings songs. Instead, the discourse on seals has been much less shaped by criteria that make it almost human-like, but instead has been shaped by emotional responses. Images of ‘baby seals’ that emphasise childlike looks and fragility and the ‘weeping’ mother after its ‘baby’ has been killed by commercial sealers have not missed its mark and have therefore burned themselves into (western) public consciousness. In the 1990s in Germany, where I grew up, it was not uncommon to find ‘Save the Seal’ stickers on cars—also driving through a Drive-Through of McDonald’s, the irony of which cannot escape the heedful observer—and a seeming consensus on the ruthlessness of commercial sealing. After all, how can one kill such a cute baby seal and cause so much harm to the loving mother?
Nikolas Sellheim

7. The International Legal Framework for Polar Bears

Abstract
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is one of the largest bear species in the world and indeed an iconic species. It stands synonymous for the drastic effects of climate change on the Arctic environment and its almost hopeless battle against the impacts of humankind. In recent years, increasing horror stories about the polar bear have emerged in media discourse: the polar bears is on the brink of extinction; the polar bear is starving due to the effects of climate change; or the polar bear invades human settlements in search for food.
Nikolas Sellheim

8. The Characteristics of International Marine Mammal Law

Abstract
The international legal landscape for marine mammals, which I have coined ‘international marine mammal law’, is wide and scattered. In the Introduction to this book I have argued that the main body of international law that international marine mammal law belongs to, is international environmental law as well as the law of the sea. For the most part, this statement still holds true, but we have seen that also other branches of (international) law comprise international marine mammal law.
Nikolas Sellheim

9. The Future of International Marine Mammal Law

Abstract
What we have noted throughout this book are two essential facets that characterise international marine mammal law: first, it is extremely scattered; second, its controversial, adversarial nature. With Japan leaving the International Whaling Commission, a new era of whaling regulation has begun. Whether this will send ripple effects through the legal landscape of marine mammal conservation efforts remains to be seen. However, what it does show is that Japan—and possibly others—do not consider the IWC a legitimate organisation anymore to represent the interests of all its members. But where does this lead? In this chapter, I try to sketch a few scenarios which might be a possibility in light of the current developments in international marine mammal law. I am drawing from the existing literature and from the foregoing chapters. My own view on different scenarios based on the above will inevitably flow into this chapter. However, you may disagree with my assessment and I strongly encourage you to develop and communicate your own ideas as regards the future of international marine mammal law.
Nikolas Sellheim

Backmatter

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