A recent theme in ecological research has been the discovery that not all species are as important as eachother in a regional ecosystem. In fact, if one has to choose a species to protect, it is always the apex predator (top of the food chain) that should be chosen. For instance the extermination in the 1920's of the Wolf from Yellowstone National Park had been found to cause damage to the whole ecology without a single other animal or plant being damaged by human hands. This has been found to be true for all regional ecosystems. Thus the Crocodile really is due protection in the rivers, The Lion really is the king of the beasts in parts of Africa, Cougars, Bears etc. are very important in their ecological niches as well. In Yellowstone for instance, the elk (Reindeer?) are perceived by humans to be important because they are big and beautiful, but the Wolf is more important even though it is unpopular both with tourist and ranchers, and often kill weaker, though intelligent animals in very cruel ways.
Also in the Ocean this is found to be true. And the vicious killers of the deep blue are denegrated by a large swathe of the population. This is wrong, because even if they are natural born killers and kill intelligent and feeling popular mammals of the deep, they are more important than the species they are killing for food. Thus I believe the apex predator in this case - the Japanese whaling and fishing fleets - should be regulated to more mimic the activities of more conventional apex predators such as Great Whites and killer whales, and not be vilified for choosing to kill whales in certain circumstances. Whales are like giant Elk of the deep, and uncontrolled populations may devastate populations of lower species - especially if shark hunting continues uncontrolled!