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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



IWC 2005: Don't go looking for informed opinion in the NZ MSM

The NZ Herald's Political Editor, Johnathon Milne demonstrates very effectively that one does not need to have a grasp of the facts nor any common sense in order to be able to form an opinion. You would expect a little better from a "Political Editor" of a major newspaper.

From his opinion piece:

The problem is, everyone knows Japan's aid comes not just with a string attached, but with a veritable harpoon cable: support for whaling.

Everyone knows that? I wonder where Johnny got that idea...
- I'm not certain that all 150 nations to which Japan gives aid would be aware of that.
- For a start, there are only 60+ nations in the IWC.
- And what "everyone knows", is that some nations which receive Japanese aid happen to agree with Japan on the sustainable use of marine resources, while other nations receiving Japanese aid happen to disagree. and vote with the anti-whaling bloc.
- And taking a look at the nations that vote for the sustainable use of whales, we can see that it
includes lots of island and developing nations with good access to such marine resources. Does it sounds fishy that island nations agree that marine resources should be utilised? Maybe if you are Johnny Milne, but I'll give my readers more credit than I give him.

Johnny continues with commentary on H1 Clark's trip to Japan:

But no mention was made of whaling when she and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi emerged from their key meeting

Why that, Johnny, is because whaling is a non-issue, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand ought to be intelligent enough to know it. She already scored her cheap political points in a previous meeting with Japan's Foreign Affairs minister.

But it looks likely to have the simple majority needed to abolish the IWC's conservation committee, overturn last year's humane killing resolution, and tellingly, ensure voting is done in secret.

1) Conservation Committee. The IWC's Conservation Commitee was only agreed to last year (or the year before - I forget), and the reality is that this committee was designed by the anti-whaling nations to suck up the time of the IWC's Scientific Commitee. The plan was to request the Scientific Committee to do all sorts of activities to distract them from making progress on scientific issues surrounding whale stock management. I took a glance at the Conservation Commitee's agenda, and it seems that they haven't even figured out what they plan to talk about. I'll dig up more on this later...

2) Japan, like Norway uses advanced modern techniques ensuring most whales die instantaneously, and for those that don't, the average time to death is 2 minutes. Greenpeace and co will only ever tell you about the worst reported cases. Infrequently, a very small number of whales may take a long time to die - upwards of an hour. But what Greenpeace and co never tell you is that this isn't the norm. At any rate, while Japan believes that humane killing methods are outside the conpetancy of an already very busy IWC, it like the Norwegians has been volunterily providing data on TTDs (Time To Death). Japan doesn't have anything to hide in this respect - I wouldn't put money on the Japanese attempting to overturn this resolution, even though they see this issue as being better dealt with in another forum.

3) Ah, secret voting. How telling indeed... How evil, and scheming these Japanese are, aren't they Johnny.
Oh, but hang on... isn't secret voting the commonplace in western democratic elections? Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where anyone who voted against Saddam had a nasty visitor the next day.

The reason behind the push for secret ballots is precisely to protect these smaller nations from powerful foreign influences, such as those from the multi-national NGOs, and western anti-whaling governments. And of course, with secret voting, even the Japanese won't know who is voting with and who is voting against them.

That Johnny as a Political Editor cannot see this is almost beyond belief.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, New Zealand's representative on the IWC, describes scientific whaling as a "bloody great loophole" allowing whale flesh to be sold in Tokyo's fish markets and put on the menus of Japanese school canteens.

To be fair, Sir Geoff is a fruitloop. He claimed at a previous IWC meeting that "whaling means whale watching" (paraphrasing... I'll try to dig up more on this later too). Any dictionary proves him wrong. But that didn't stop him from making an idiot of himself anyway.

As for the loophole claim, well I've covered it before.
As a lawyer, I really have to wonder what Sir Geoff thinks Article VIII was actually about if it isn't about scientific whaling programmes such as those carried out by the Japanese and more recently the Icelanders.
To be realistic, I think it's clear the reason for this rhetoric is that Sir Geoff knows that with scientific research the possibility for a resumption in commercial whaling becomes more likely - no scientific understanding, and commercial whaling can't occur. And that's his mission at the IWC.

Japanese scientists say minke whale numbers have trebled in the past 30 years, but the IWC scientific committee says they have plummeted.

In fact, the IWC Scientific Committee have said no such thing. Johnny must have been reading Greenpeace press releases or something, but if you visit http://www.iwcoffice.org/ and look for the latest population estimates you can see that the Scientific Committee currently provides no estimate (the previous one was 760,000 odd minkes in the Southern Ocean). The Japanese have also noted that even if the current numbers were lower than previously thought, the tiny levels of whales currently being taken would still not be having a noticable impact on the overall population. Japan has been taking around 400 minkes a year. You do the maths, figure out what percentage of the population this would represent.

Last week an International Fund for Animal Welfare report said whale watching was worth $120 million to New Zealand in tourism dollars last year, showing "whales are worth more alive than dead".

Well, Johnny, that's the garbage you get from IFAW and co. What Johnny fails to realise is that sustainable whaling activities are perfectly compatible with whale watching activities. The whole point of sustainable whaling is NOT to deplete whale stocks. Even with sustainable commercial whaling operations, whale watching would see little change in economic fortunes. This is a wonderful thing - unlike cake, it IS possible to watch a whale, and eat it too (well, not exactly the same one, but if you understand "sustainable", then this should be clear).

But that's enough responding to MSM NGO mouthpiece nonsense for one night.

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