The science of animal welfare and its relevance to whales


The welfare of animals is a major factor affecting the acceptability of human activities, and hence their sustainability, and whales are the subject of much concern because they are considered to be sentient animals. The scientific study of animal welfare has developed rapidly and now allows evaluation of the effects on whale welfare of disturbance by boats, harpoon entry, pulling whales to a boat, capture procedures, the point of unconsciousness and consequences for animals that escape. Useful data are now being collected on some aspects but recent evidence shows that, on average, during the capture and killing of whales, there is a high magnitude of poor welfare and the procedure is not humane. © 2013 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.