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Human-Wildlife ConflictComplexity in the Marine Environment$
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Megan Draheim, Francine Madden, Julie-Beth McCarthy, and Chris Parsons

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687145.001.0001

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Levels of Marine Human–Wildlife Conflict

Levels of Marine Human–Wildlife Conflict

A Whaling Case Study

(p.79) 5 Levels of Marine Human–Wildlife Conflict
Human-Wildlife Conflict

E. C. M. Parsons

Oxford University Press

Human–wildlife conflict theory identifies three levels of conflict. This chapter posits that these three levels of conflict are evident at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) over so-called Japanese scientific whaling. The first level of conflict is the dispute: the current, tangible issue or problem that is in contention. For the IWC, the dispute is about the validity and value of the scientific research conducted through lethal take. The second level is the underlying conflict; that is, a history of unresolved dispute over what has happened in the past. At the IWC, there is a history of long and acrimonious argument and personal attacks from both sides, and of substantial financial and personal investment with unsatisfactory results for all parties. The third level is the identity-level conflict involving prejudices and assumptions about the parties involved. In the IWC context, there are assumptions that the parties are irrevocably polarized, and there are gross prejudices; for example, the perception of one side as “heartless whale killers” versus the other as “unrealistic bunny huggers” or “supporters of ecoterrorists.” This last level includes assumed offenses to national sovereignty/pride. In 2010 there was an attempt to broker a deal related to scientific whaling at the IWC meeting in Morocco; this attempt, while arguably agreeable in purely scientific terms (that is, proposed catches would be sustainable based on population size), ultimately failed because other levels of conflict were not considered or addressed. The IWC is stalemated due to major issues related to historical conflicts, lack of trust, and assumptions/prejudices above and beyond scientific debate, and thus this chapter explains why we must go beyond a purely science-based approach to resolve the conflict.

Keywords:   whaling, levels of conflict, science, Japan, International Whaling Commission

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