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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



NZ Election 2005: It's people like this that make me want to vote ACT

Dr Graham Scott, recently announced at number 5 on the ACT parties' list has a great speech: 'Why I'm with ACT and why National needs us'

At the risk of immodesty, the fact is that I know more about controlling government expenditure than the National front bench. They are talking as though it will be easy to cut enough fat from the state to pay for tax cuts – it won’t be. Believe me I’ve been there and I have done that. The combination of the State Enterprises Act, the Public Finance Act and the State Sector Act, which I helped to design and implement, brought remarkable improvements in the effectiveness of public organisations and lower costs. I wrote a textbook about it. But those systems have not been used vigorously for a while and some slack has got into the system. We can get better value for money but it has to be done with a scalpel not an axe.

Indeed, from what I read in the news it seems that the National party is big on promises but will be small on action. All these promises of tax cuts - so where is the policy?

ACT already has a policy out there - 15% tax for income up to 38,000 a year, and 25% for anything above that. And the Treasury estimates between 1% and 1.5% extra growth would be achieved through the introduction of this policy.

Don Brash is shackled by his conservo hippies. Fingers crossed that ACT can get itself into kingmaker position ahead of Winston's racist bunch



IWC 2005: Letter to Herald Sun

Editor of the Herald Sun,

Dear Sir,

Your article "Serving up slaughter" (26 Jun) makes the claim that at rates proposed, the Japanese are "likely to research whales to extinction"

However, no figures are given to support this hypothesis, other than the numbers of whales Japan proposes to catch.

What drives a species to extinction is not hunting in itself, but over-hunting. Simplistically, there are two other figures that need to be considered, besides the proposed number of whales to be caught :

The first is Population size. In the most recent abundance estimate from the IWC's Scientific Committee, minke whales in the Southern Ocean were numbered at more than 700,000 animals. It doesn't take a cetacean scientist to realise that at the rate of 900 animals a year, Japan would need to hunt minke whales for more than 750 years at that rate before they all ran out.

Of course, in the meantime, whales will be dying of natural causes. Which leads into the second figure that needs to be considered - The rate of natural increase. Just as whales die of natural causes, they also reproduce and replenish their numbers as well. The proposed catch figures need to be considered along with both the population size and the estimated rate of growth. For a species with a positive rate of growth, it's common sense that humans can take some of the natural increase without reducing overall numbers. With a calculator in hand, one can see that the yearly minke catch will amount to around 0.1% of the entire Southern Ocean minke population. Even taking uncertainty into account, this is certainly no cause for concern.

Looking also to the humpback population, which is particularly dear to Australian and New Zealand hearts, Australian scientists themselves have estimated that the population is growing at an incredibly solid 10.0% per year. Again, simple mathematics shows that the Japanese research programme plans to take a very minute proportion of this
population, one that isn\'t going to reduce numbers of humpbacks migrating past Australia shores each year.

With information regarding whale population sizes, natural growth rates, and proposed catch figures, it\'s clear that Japanese whaling doesn\'t "turn back the clock on environmental responsibility" at all. On the contrary, producing food by hunting whales is a far more environmentally friendly way of putting tucker on the table than
typical anglo-saxon methods, which invariably involve destroying native flora to make way for animal farms. The whales also get to live free, natural lives as well, where as on animal farms, each is raised so that it can be slaughtered for human food.

Indeed, with such information, I believe that putting emotions aside, the mjaority of people in Australia and New Zealand (my homeland) would, in the interests of accepting cultural diversity, accept whaling providing it is sustainable. As such, rather than try to skuttle the IWC by taking an extreme anti-whaling stance, the Australian and New Zealand governments should show that they have international honour and work constructively to ensure that the IWC\'s
regulatory framework can be completed expeditiously. A failure to do so could see whaling nations break away from the IWC and form a group in which our countries would have no say whatsoever.




IWC 2005: How the times have changed

The High North Alliance report that the next Chairman of the IWC's Scientific Committee will be Norwegian Arne Bjorge.

They note that the only other Norwegian Chairman Johan Ruud
"resigned in protest because the Commission refused to listen to scientific advice to reduce catch quotas, and continued to set Antarctic whaling quotas that were too high."

Contrast that with the resignation of Dr Phillip Hammond in the early 1990's. In the 30 years between, the Greenpeace movement turned the whale into a semi-divine super intelligent and highly endangered being, and whaling for oil died out completely.

So even 40 years ago the politicians at the IWC were ignoring the scientific committee. That didn't change, and the politicians are still ignoring them today.

But what has changed is the message. The Scientific Committee is no longer saying, "wait this may not be safe", they're saying "we've done our work and sustainable whaling is now possible for abundant species".

With politicians from countries which have made it clear that they don't even agree with the Convention which they have signed participating at the IWC, it's clear that this situation can't be remedied.

The loophole of intolerant nations being allowed to join the IWC must be closed if progress is ever to be made - either that or those nations themselves showing that they have some international honour, and voluntaraly withdrawing



IWC 2005: Chris Carter really is clueless

IWC 57 is well under way in Korea. Initial votes have gone against the pro-sustainable use camp, as usual.

The IWMC as they did last year is releasing very good editorials each day:

The key theme from the IWMC this year is how much longer can the IWC last while nations such as Australia and New Zealand are determined to subvert the IWC from it's original purpose. Well worth a read.

Chris Carter is again showing just how moronic and scientifically & logically illiterate he is:

"those 2000 humpbacks will soon disappear if 20 a year are taken, Mr Carter said."

Mr Carter fails to recognise that humpbacks, like other mammals and lifeforms are capable of "reproduction". 20 humpbacks is but 1% of the just the population of humpbacks he claims is migrating past the New Zealand coastline (2000), and as I've posted commentary on before, the humpback population is regarded by even anti-whaling scientists as expanding at a rate of 10% a year.

It's going to take a long time for humpback numbers off the New Zealand coast to disappear while the population is growing at around 9% a year... (did you spot my sarcasm?)

It's not just those humpbacks the Japanese plan to take either - it's not like they'll pick on only the whales going past New Zealand. Maybe Chris doesn't "get" that, either.

Mr Carter is either terribly under qualified to represent New Zealand at the IWC, or is simply a liar.

Judging from the latest opinion polls though, it looks like his crappy Labour party could be kicked out of office when H1 Clark finally calls the election. It's time to put this sod out of his misery. He'll go down as a big blip in IWC history, right after Sandra "whaling is despicable" Lee of the now dead Alliance party. Mind you, the National party is likely to put up an equally illiterate IWC Commissioner.



IWC 2005: Australians attempt to lower expectations

Ian Campbell of Australia is huffing and puffing big time ahead of the plenary session of IWC 57 next week.

Apparently, Campbell has done his numbers, and figures that "Anti-whaling nations were one vote short of blocking Japan's efforts to overturn a 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling"

Good grief, when is Ian going to spare us the nonsense?
As far as I know, the Japanese aren't likely to even put forward such a proposal, as they know that it would be a waste of time, at this point.
To overturn the commercial moratorium, at least 75% of the IWC's membership must support the motion. That's more than 45 nations at the IWC that Campbell is claiming supports this. Where did he get this idea from?

Here's some more of what Campbell has been feeding the media (and what the media have foolishly bothered to put into print):

Japan had been engaging in "disturbing" and "alarming" tactics to strong-arm smaller nations into backing its plans.

Senator Campbell refused to reveal his "intelligence" on the Japanese tactics before Wednesday's vote, saying: "They will be revealed in due course, but what we are hearing is very, very disturbing.

"They don't care if they win by one vote. This is their big chance. The intelligence we've got would scare you to bits. It's alarming."

Right, Ian... "disturbing", "alarming" and "scary" tactics, but we aren't allowed to know what this is. Why won't Ian just stump up with the story, rather than all this ridiculous spy-thriller like innuendo?

Anti-whaling nations such as Australia don't want a revised scheme on the table, fearing that pro-whaling nations would push to reword the scheme to allow the resumption of commercial whaling.

The media is thoroughly confused. The "Revised Management Scheme" has always been about putting in place a Scheme to monitor commercial whaling operations. It doesn't need rewording to make it clear that the whole point is to allowing whaling activities, based on quotas set using the "Revised Management Procedure".

Senator Campbell said that even anti-whaling nations might cave in on a revised scheme - in the mistaken belief that commercial whaling would remain banned or that only limited whaling be allowed.

There's nothing mistaken about that belief. Commercial whaling would only ever be allowed for demonstrably abundant populations that could be scientifically shown to be robust enough to support a non-zero quota.

Senator Campbell said he was fearful that countries that had declared themselves as anti-whaling could buckle under Japanese pressure.

Senator Campbell would argue against Japan's push for secret ballots at the meeting. Japan said secret ballots were necessary to allow smaller countries to avoid being "bullied".

Senator Campbell complains on one hand that Japan is using "alarming", "scary" tactics to pressure "anti-whaling" nations, and refuses to tell us any details. And then he has the nerve to argue against secret ballots. How does he think the Japanese will be able to pressure other nations if Japan can ultimately not tell who voted for what? How will Japan know who to pressure?

Of course, it's easy to see what is going on here - it's the same every year.

1) Campbell is scaremongering, alluding to dirty tactics by the Japanese, but then refusing to give any details of this (it's a great big made up story, is why). Every year anti-whaling politicians proclaim that Japan may have "bought" enough votes to return to commercial whaling. The anti-whaling "environmental" organizations ask you to donate money to them. Then the meeting comes and Japanese proposals are voted down. The anti-whaling politicians then claim it is a magnificent victory to their domestic constituencies, and the Greenpeaces of the world have got your money. Thanks to your donations, they were able to save the day, they say.

2) In order to ensure it can get the results it desires, Australia needs to know who has to be pressured into voting in line with them. With secret ballots, the Australians (like the Japanese) would not know who to pressure. Whereas Japan regards nations being able to vote without such pressures as a good thing, Australia and co on the other hand argue against it, but then accuse Japan of abusing the system.

The ridiculous thing is that the main stream western media are thick enough to buy these stories, and fail to see secret ballots as the normal part of any modern democratic process that they are, year after year.

This time next week, we'll have Campbell prancing about saying how wonderful and lucky it is that commercial whaling proposals were voted down. It's a disgrace.


IWC 2005: Chris Carter isn't any less ignorant this year

Chris Carter last year got special mention from the IWMC after last year's IWC meeting for the "Most Ludicrous Claim", as well being described as "excitable", "badly-informed", having "no knowledge, and even less interest, about whale populations. In the world of Mr. Carter all whales are on the brink of extinction"
Well done Chris!

I'm not going to be surprised if he takes similar honours again this year, judging by his pre-IWC comments to the NZHerald.

He was responding to the following comments from a Mr Moronuki of the Japanese Fisheries Agency:

"Countries such as Australia and New Zealand say they would not let a single whale be hunted no matter how healthy whale stocks are. These fanatic anti-whaling countries may also include Italy, Germany and Britain. But there are some other anti-whaling countries that are a bit cooler".

In response:

Conservation Minister Chris Carter, who heads to the annual IWC meeting in Korea today, called Mr Moronuki's comments "extremist" and "militant" and said he did not believe they represented Japan's official position.

Carter should be ashamed of himself, and so should the entire country. Mr Moronuki said nothing controversial, and certainly nothing "extreme". Yet Carter has chosen to describe Moronuki's comments as "militant"? Where on earth did that come from? "Militant" is a word that is more suitably used to describe terrorists than Japanese fisheries agency officials. This comparison is totally inappropriate, and would likely be offensive to all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorism.
Further, "fanatical" is a quite appropriate word to describe the New Zealand government's position on whaling.

Carter seems determined to retain his place on IWMC's "worst list" in 2005:

"We are committed to whale conservation because they are not a plentiful species, they are a much endangered species, and I'm appalled that Japan would engage in such militant rhetoric," he said.

Poor Chris still hasn't figured it out that "whales" are not a species. There are around 80 whale species, and what's more, most of them aren't endangered.

"I'm interested in arguing the conservation values of protecting whales and the economic value."

Nor has Chris come to grips with the difference between "protecting whales" and "conservation". The Japanese position is pro-conservation - but New Zealand's stance is purely protectionist.

He said Mr Moronuki's comments did not provide a "good framework for rational debate"

Pfffffft, perhaps Chris should consider leading by example by getting a clue himself? See above...

Mr Carter said the votes this year were "extremely tight" and could balance out at 31-31 on whether Japan could expand its research programme.

Carter really has bad advisors. The new Japanese research programme can't be stopped by voting in the IWC plenary session. The Scientific Committee has had it's say on the proposed programme, and it's now up to Japan whether they implement it or not. Their right to this is determined by Article VIII of the ICRW, which Carter's government chooses to remain signatory to, not politically motivated voting at the IWC.

It's amazing that this clown ever made it into our parliament.... isn't it?
(fingers crossed)



IWC 2005: Anti-whaling nation disregard for science

Anti-whaling delegates to the IWC have shown what little regard they have for making whale management decisions based on science (and indeed their fear of it) by instructing their members on the IWC's Scientific Commitee to refuse to even review the Japanese research programmes.

Isn't it remarkable how often we see in the western media statements that Japan's research is just a front for commercial whaling, and yet Japan fronts up at the IWC Scientific Committee with their research, and the anti-whaling camp chooses to ignore it?

Science is indeed the enemy of the anti-whaling nations.

With better scientific knowledge of whale populations, the argument for a return to sustainable whaling is strengthened. The anti-whaling tactic to prevent this is to denounce without due consideration, and feed the information to the western media, who buy it harpoon, line and sinker:

The boycott by 16 of the 30 national delegations in the IWC scientific committee, including Australia's, is a serious blow to the credibility of Japan's whaling program,

This is a typically backwards western media statement.

Ask yourself: How is the credibility of Japan's whaling program damaged by scientists promoted to the IWC's Scientific Committee by anti-whaling nations refusing to even review the research?

On the contrary, what would be a blow to the credibility of the research was if the Scientific Committee did review it and found it to be seriously flawed. Japan's research programme doesn't suffer at all from this childish move.

Given that these anti-whaling scientists have been sent all the way to Korea just to say "we aren't going to do any work", it's clear that the only reason for the anti-whaling nations standing their people on the Scientific Commitee is just to grab a headline. What other purpose does it serve if your scientists show up, but then do nothing?

The article also states that:

Because the boycott left pro-whaling scientists in control of the JARPA II review, the scientific committee is expected to endorse Japan's plans.

More misinformation. Only a number of the scientists on the Scientific Committee are nominated by IWC member nations, both pro and anti. The nominated scientists from the 16 nations who choose to throw a hissyfit would likely represent a minority of the 200 or so members of the committee. Throughout the years, leading scientists on the commitee have been from nations that stand against whaling - for example Dr Phillip Hammond of the U.K. (see more below) and Dr Doug Butterworth from South Africa. Pro-whaling nations certainly have no "control" over the scientific committee. Scientists of the committee have their reputations at stake.

On the other hand, the anti-whaling nations can't win the scientific arguments at the IWC's Scientific Committee, so they have given up and used this action to generate a headline. And the anti-whaling "scientists" won't even front up:

A senior scientist, who asked not to be named, told The Australian the 16 delegations had decided, for scientific reasons, not to be involved with JARPA II.

How about that. A "scientist" who is too embarassed to put his name to his actions.

Their basic objection was that there has been no independent review of the original JARPA, which ran in the Antarctic waters for 18 years and finished last summer.

Japan wants to have secret ballots introduced at the IWC to remove foreign political pressure from member nations' voting decisions. Yet here we have an anti-whaling "scientist" refusing to have his name put against his "scientific reasons" for not reviewing Japan's research, which apparently amounts to nothing more than "we haven't seen an independant review".

Why does a alledged "scientist" need an independent review?
Shouldn't he be capable enough himself to examine the research presented?
If a "scientist" can't figure this out, why should we believe anything other than my hypothesis above - that the anti-whaling nations are employing these people as political tools to get headlines?

As I alluded to at the top, this is all yet another example of anti-whaling nations' utter disregard for making whale management decisions based on scientific information, as required by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

Indeed, there have been numerous occurances of this through the IWC's history.

In May 1993, the Dr Phillip Hammond of the U.K., and Chairman of the Scientific Committee handed in his resignation in protest at anti-whaling nation disregard for the scientific work done by the committee. Despite the committee's unanimous recommendation to the IWC of the "Revised Management Procedure" - a mechanism for the safe management of commercial whaling, the anti-whaling nations at the IWC blocked moves to put this into practice.

Hammond noted:

Of course, the reasons for this were nothing to do with science. Although, despite the unanimity of the Scientific Committee's recommendation, some Commissioners used selective quotations out of context from the Committee's report to justify not adopting the RMP on "scientific" grounds.

He continued, lammenting:

what is the point of having a Scientific Committee if its unanimous recommendations on a matter of primary importance are treated with such contempt?

And with this latest news from the IWC, it's clear that the situation hasn't improved.

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Apartment hunting - deal almost done

After my letdown from last weekend, my apartment hunting fortunes went better yesterday.

I went to a small real estate office in Shimokitazawa after my wonderful buddy Chie refered me to them, and was treated wonderfully.
Eventually I saw two places, both which were good.

The first (and my eventual selection) was a 1LDK in a pretty new building 8 minutes walk from Shimokitazawa station. 1LDK is the Japanese real estate terminology for an apartment with a Living / Dining / Kitchen room, plus 1 more room. Both rooms have western style flooring, so I'll be saying bye bye to the tatami mats. At any rate, this is enough space for me.

The second place I saw was also an interesting find - only 2 minutes from Shimokitazawa station on foot, and it also had a large veranda with one side modified to become a "sun room"! However, the bathroom was an old style Japanese one which kind of put me off (although I'm sure I could get used to it), and also it was a 2K, but the Kitchen was in between the other two rooms. I'd rather the rooms be connected, so I can have the option of using it as one large space (like where I am now). Also, 2 minutes from the station is ultra convenient, but I like being far from the station to
a) get some exercise or I'll become a fat bastard.
b) see some stuff!! Part of the reason for wanting to move is to avoid a dull walk through a suburban area on the way home (aka, status quo)
c) avoid hearing the trains going past :-( Not sure though! I didn't hear any while I was looking around the room.
The sun room would have been cool, but then I thought about it, and I'm not really into growing orchards just yet.

So, tomorrow I'll submit an application to my HR department, and hopefully this time the lease will go through smoothly.

I'll probably look at moving in sometime around the end of this month, or early next month. I notified my current landlord of my intention to move out yesterday, so I've at the latest I'll be gone from here by the 11th of July.

Should be a busy couple of weeks, but looking forward to the change of scene.


IWC 2005: "Blown up" whales

Apparently, these are "Blown up" whales, according to the Australian environment minister.

What do you think? Does it look like they died a particularly brutal, long death? Particularly, does it look anything like they were "blown up" at all?

The Australian Environment minister has achieved little with his statements as such, other than to make a fool of himself and his government, and the people who elected him. What a joke!



IWC 2005: Papua New Guinean support for whaling

To the behest of the Australians, Papua New Guinea has joined Tuvalu in expressing support for the sustainable use of natural resources, including whales:

"Traditionally, and even now, our people do eat whale, and dugongs and animals like that. So in that sense, we do share the Japanese view to some extent," PNG's Foreign Minister Rabbie Namaliu told Reuters. PNG is the biggest Pacific island nation after Australia, and its views carry significant weight among smaller South Pacific nations.

Papua New Guinea isn't a signatory to the ICRW - yet they support the Japanese. But this won't stop the pathetic "environmental NGOs" from accusing Japan of vote buying. Reality doesn't matter - grabbing headlines is what counts to them.

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IWC 2005: "extreme" anti-whalers should withdraw from the IWC

As I have mentioned before, nations such as Australia and New Zealand clearly don't agree with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and their failure to accordingly withdraw from the Convention shows that they have no honour - they are a joke internationally, and rightfully viewed as hypocrites because of this. It's time for these nations to put their words into action, and prove that they truely do disagree with whaling by withdrawing.

Dan Goodman also suggests this.

So too, it seems does Takanori Nagatomo:
"Some extreme anti-whaling countries like Australia have clearly mentioned that even one whale should not be killed. In that case, their attitude is totally contradicting the ... international convention for the [regulation] of whaling. So it is such extreme anti-countries that should withdraw (from the) IWC."

If you can stand the horrible Australian accent, you can listen to the full interview.


IWC 2005: In the news today

Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell needs to stay off whatever it is that he is on.

In his explanation of why he hopes his bullying of small Pacific nations will persuage them to come over to the dark side, he says "people won't want to visit a region that supports the blowing up of whales with grenades"

Oh dear. Yet more attempting to appeal to ignorant voter emotions. Why can't Campbell just be honest for a change, and admit that modern penthrite grenade based harpoon methods are far more advanced and humane than the killing methods that his ancestors employed? Why try and give the impression that Japanese whaling methods result in a whale being blown into numerous chunks of flesh?

Suggesting that those nations who support whaling support whale detonation is incredibly dishonest and disingenuous.

Campbell ought to know that the whales are fully intact when they hit the decks.

Meanwhile, Campbell is reported elsewhere, saying "I think stirring up anti-Japanese fervour is actually quite contrary to our best interests"

No doubt it is - so one wonders why his behaviour and criticisms of the Japanese is so contrary to this?

Go on Ian - let us hear about how "sick" and "absurd" you think whaling is again...

What a clown!


IWC 2005: I never cease to be amazed by the western media

This is the most incorrect thing I think I have seen this year to date:

Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research "openly supports unfettered access to whales, hunting without limits, and no international regulations. In other words, when the institute draws attention to an abundance of whales, imagine Gollum slobbering over that ring."

Good grief... there are no whalers or whaling organizations in the world that "hunting without limits". The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which the Japanese whalers often quote in their argumentation, is designed precisely to set up whaling operations within limits.

Then check this one out:
"Early on the IWC was dominated and controlled by pro-whaling nations"

Oh my goodness... the International Whaling Commission, dominated and controlled by pro-whaling nations???? What is strange about a club of whaling nations running their club?
What about the status quo now, where we have a whole bunch of nations, who are signatory to the ICRW, yet completely oppose all forms of whaling, controlling the IWC? It doesn't make sense at all.
What on earth was the author of this article smoking...

There is little hope of the general populace ever gaining a clue about whaling when there is such gross misinformation being disemminated via the western media. Where is the source of this nonsense? My pick is that someone is making money out of this...



IWC 2005: Ignorant western media

Emma Tom in her weekly Wednesday column in The Australian provides an excellent example of just how poor the level of knowledge of the whaling issue is in anti-whaling nations.

I do have to give her credit where it is due - her article is cleverly written, but as far as providing information of any value, fails miserably.

Let's have a look at her various booboos, and to conclude I'll give her some advice for an original column:

1) She starts off by sarcastically questioning whale meat ending up on Japanese sushi trains.

As I have pointed out before, Japan is legally required to make full use of what is left over after the scientists are done. Australia is signatory to the ICRW, which requires this. Since Emma Tom clearly thinks so little of these rules, why isn't she using her column to criticise her hypocritical government? Why isn't she suggesting that, as per Article XI of the ICRW, her government withdraws?

2) Next, she makes the standard anti-whaling assertion that there is no research going on, and that the purpose of the activity is only to get meat on the table (and at the end of the article she suggests that Japanese research methods have been "rejected by every serious research community in the universe").

Like her Prime Minister Johnny Howard, I can but wonder if she has any cetacean science credentials at all. If she wants to know what the IWC Scientific Committee actually thinks of Japan's research programmes, she might like to actually consider the reports which the Scientific Committee have put together on the matter? Nothing of the sort in her article. She appears to have read a press release from an anti-whaling NGO / politician, and without bothering to do her own thinking, blindly accepted the notion of "research whaling as a front for commercial whaling" as a truth. The IWC's Scientific Commitee, surely the world's preeminant forum of cetacean scientists, has never "rejected" lethal whaling as a research method. Even the IWC's homepage contains information about how for example whale ages can be accurately determined by the number of layers of wax on the ear drums.

3) From here on in, she is downright absurd. Next, she demonstrates her ignorance again of the research programmes by suggesting that Japan cetacean scientists could be researched by slaughtering them.

Very very pathetic... Again, one has to refer her to the ICRW, the document to which Australia chooses to remain a signatory, which states clearly that signatory nations are entitled to catch whales for research purposes. Where on earth did she get the idea that murdering scientists and legally taking whales for research purposes as permitted by international agreement is in any way comparable?? Again, if she doesn't like this law (and it seems that judging by her choice of comparison, she doesn't) why isn't she using her article to suggest that Australia withdraw from the Convention?

4) Next she tries to actual provide a reasonable point, but fails anyway. She asserts that there is "academic research questioning the notion that whaling has deep cultural roots in Japan in the first place". She is at pains to add in parenthesis one example of a research who "claims whale meat was eaten by large numbers of Japanese only in the dark decade after World War II."

The Japanese themselves will be the first to tell you that whale consumption boomed post World War II. This claim isn't disputed at all - Emma Tom is throughly confused if she thinks it is. Her implication is inside-out. Whale meat consumption having boomed post World War II does not imply that there were no deep cultural traditions of whale consumption prior to that. What Emma Tom needs to consider is not what happened after WWII, but what was the situation before.

What is commonly argued by the Japanese at the IWC every year, but to no avail, is that Japan's small scale coastal whaling communities (of which there are 4, and this is where the traditions are) deserve to be allocated catch quotas like their counterparts in Alaska, Russia, etc.

Before she starts trying to justify an assertion that Japan does not have whaling traditions with such terribly poor logic, Emma Tom ought to consider that some of these Japanese whaling centres existed before Australia and New Zealand were even settled by the white man.

But that of course is just the cultural argument. Japan has always been at pains to make it clear (although largely ignored by the ignorant western media) that there are two types of whaling in Japan - traditional small scale whaling, and larger scale pelagic whaling for commercial purposes. The argument for small scale whaling is that the people of these traditional whaling communities ought to be able to retain their cultural identity - just as the American whalers of Alaska are able. Emma Tom has seemingly gotten confused into thinking these traditional arguments are used as a justification for pelagic whaling. That is not the case. The argument for pelagic whaling is in terms of science and international law.

5) She then takes a comment that eating whales and cows is the same thing totally out of context. They aren't the same, she says, since there are 1.5 billion cows in the world, and 800,000 minke whales.

So what? There are different numbers of sheep, pigs and fish too, but Australians happily eat all three. Number comparisons is meaningless. What matters is sustainability - and in order to understand what is sustainable, you need to understand what it is you want to utilise, and in order to gain this understanding you need to partake in scientific research. This part isn't cetacean science - Emma Tom should be able to follow this much, at least.

6) Remaining on the "ridiculous" theme, she continues: "They may argue hunting humans is wrong because our high intelligence puts us in a category different from other species made of meat."

Oh dear... Emma gets it wrong on two counts with this single line of argumentation:

Firstly, since when was intelligence a determinant in choosing what is and is not suitable to eat? Is it the case that Emma Tom believes mentally retarded people are good for eating because they have low intelligence? I'm going to assume that this is not the case. Emma might then consider that humans generally (and I stress that) avoid eating our own or similar species. Emma may like to think that humans are whales are similar species (and Greenpeace propaganda would support her), but biologically whales have more in common with cows than they do with humans.

Secondly, pigs are recognised by animal intelligence researchers to have a high degree of intelligence. Yet Greenpeace and other anti-whaling proponents have never proposed that the world cease pork consumption. The reason why is simple: Pigs aren't as "cute" as whales, in the eyes of the west. Meanwhile, many have attempted to prove higher Cetacean intelligence, but have never been able to find such indications. On the other hand, researchers such as Margaret Klinowska have observed that whales display little more intelligence than other wild animals, based on their behavioural patterns.

But that's enough of that

Now for the advice to Emma Tom that I promised -
I don't know if she will read this, but I did send her an email to invite her to come along as take a look (feel free to drop me a comment or email if you do), so here goes:

Darling, if you want to boost your readership, you might want to try coming up with something original for your little western newspaper column. Your arguments are old and stale and can be found on virtually any "environmental" NGO homepage, along with the typical GIVE US YOUR MONEY links.

Rather than just trot out the tired old Greenpeace fundraising propaganda, why not look at the issue from a totally new perspective. Here's two options:

1) "Why is our government signatory to the Internation Convention for the Regulation of Whaling when we don't even want whaling, let alone troubling ourselves with trying to regulate it?"

Hint - it's because your politicians are hypocrites

2) "Why do Greenpeace and our politicians claim that there is an impending environmental disaster about to occur, when even our own scientists are telling us that humpback whale population are booming at a rate of 10% per year?"

Hint - it's because anti-whaling campaigns are big money pullers for these groups and without generating uninformed fear about this issue finances will suffer, and easy votes won't be won. Why don't you compare the amount of revenue generated by whale meat sales from a alleged "hoax" scientific research programme versus the amount of donations granted to these "environmental NGOs"?


IWC 2005: Australian bullying tactics pay off - partly

Suddenly after a meeting with Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell, the Solomon Islands has changed their position on the whaling issue.

Read the article for yourself

What is disturbing is that there is no mention here at all about why the Solomons decided to reverse their position. After supposedly having their vote "bought" by the Japanese, all it took was a meeting with an Australian politician for them to change their mind? What did Campbell have to say that "unbought" the Solomons vote? Or did he just say "pretty please with sugar on top"? Hmmm, that sounds like a pretty tough sell to me.

However, Tuvalu is standing up to bullies, Australia and New Zealand:

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Maatia Toafa says his country supports the resumption of commercial whaling.

The Prime Minister has also asked Australia and New Zealand to respect Tuvalu's stance.

The International Whaling Commission meets in just under two weeks in South Korea, and Tuvalu is expected to support Japan's push for an increase in the number of whales it can catch.

Australia's Environment Minister Ian Campbell is currently touring the Pacific and gathering support to prevent any expansion of current whaling programmes.

However, Prime Minister Maatia Toafa says Tuvalu must be allowed to make its own decision.

"Our good friends, neighbours, Australia and New Zealand interpreted Tuvalu's position as pro-whaling," he said.

"We support the harvesting of all marine resources, of course including whale.

"We need also to respect the Japanese or whoever is wanting to make use of the whale," said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Maatia Toafa has called on Australia and New Zealand to allow Tuvalu to be able to make a decision on its own, without pressure.

As I have mentioned previously it is precisely for this reason that secret ballots at the IWC ought to be permitted. Without secret ballots, small nations such as the Solomons will inevitably be subject to bullying politics from neighbouring Australian and New Zealand politicians looking to score cheap political points within their own constituencies.

This sort of behaviour on the part of the Australians is an international disgrace. Congratulations to the Prime Minister of Tuvalu for telling the Australian and New Zealand governments how it ought to be.

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IWC 2005: Dan Goodman tells it like it is

Dan Goodman of the Institute for Cetacean Research in Tokyo writes an excellent article in the Canberra Times on the whaling issue, covering most of the issues which I have been raving on about for the past month. His article is so good, that I'm going to dump the whole thing on here:

Debate on whaling being swamped by error and exaggeration
Tuesday, 7 June 2005

RECENT media reports concerning Japan's planned new whale research program in the Antarctic require a context. The 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is about properly managing the whaling industry - that is, regulating catch quotas at levels so that whale stocks will not be diminished. The Convention is not about protecting all whales irrespective of their abundance.

The fact that Australia was a whaling country when it agreed to and signed the Convention and subsequently changed its position to anti-whaling following the closure of its industry in the 1970s does not change the Convention. If Australia can no longer agree to the Convention it should withdraw rather than subvert its purpose.

Although this Convention is almost 60 years old it is in every way consistent with what has more recently become the paradigm for the management of all resources - the principle of sustainable use. The Australian Government accepts this principle in other international fora and for other wildlife species except for a few charismatic species, including whales.

For Australia and many other countries, consistent application of science-based policy and rulemaking has been sacrificed as a political expediency to satisfy the interests of non-government organisations and explained in terms of moral or ethical values. This sacrifice, however, threatens the much-needed international cooperation required to properly manage and conserve all marine resources, and disregards the need to respect cultural diversity. Environment Minister Ian Campbell, who has said, "this practice [whaling] does not belong in the 21st century" should recognize his statement as unacceptable cultural imperialism.

Prime Minister John Howard's condemnation of our research programs on the basis that "it is not science" directly contradicts the IWC Scientific Committee, as do the claims of whale-watching interests that the take of any humpback whales threatens this "endangered" species. When the Committee reviewed the results of the research program at its half-way point, it concluded that Japan's program was providing valuable scientific information and that much of this information could not be obtained by non-lethal methods. Mr Howard can ignore the reality but he cannot change it. Moreover, even the Federal Government manages its fisheries resources on the basis of scientific information.

It is also a matter of record that the IWC Scientific Committee has agreed that the population of humpback whales is increasing rapidly (more than 10 per cent per year) and that it is not threatened or endangered. It is also clear that a small take for research purposes will not affect whale-watching opportunities. Statements to the contrary, together with the Greens' calls to suspend trade talks with Japan and claims of "drastic environmental consequences", are simply hysterical overstatement.

Calls from Labor for a case at the International Court of Justice on the basis that Japan is not acting in accordance with its treaty obligations under the Convention are also without foundation. Article VIII of the Convention unequivocally provides the right of members of the IWC to kill whales for research purposes, and further states that "the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention."

One does not need to be an international law expert to understand therefore that Japan's research whaling is perfectly legal and in full compliance with its obligations under the Convention. The fact that research whaling is a right of all members of the IWC, and exempt from the operation of the Convention, clearly renders the calls for a case at the International Court of Justice as nonsense. The same Article VIII says, "Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted." The fact that whale meat ends up on the Japanese market is precisely because of the legally binding obligation to process the meat. Claims that the research whaling is "commercial whaling in disguise" ignore this, as well as simple commonsense that valuable food resources should not be wasted.

Further, any international court or tribunal could, on the basis of the language of the Convention, easily and quite properly rule that Australia has failed to meet its legal obligation to interpret and implement its treaty obligations in good faith by deliberately obstructing and delaying the negotiations to establish a management regime for the resumption of sustainable whaling for abundant stocks. Such a ruling would confirm that Australia has, since the adoption of the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982, contributed significantly to the current dysfunctional status of the IWC.

The fact that the Australian Government has publicly stated that it no longer accepts the terms of the Convention and yet continues to participate in the IWC is a self- indictment. For this reason, many would welcome the threatened case by Australia since the likely outcome would be exactly the opposite of that intended.

Is that why Senator Campbell and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock expressed the view that legal action would only be good for lawyers?

Of course, these facts and arguments will not convince the anti-whaling politicians and NGOs that benefit from all the media hype on this issue. It is to be hoped, however, that civil society in general will take a more rational position on the matter. There are enough whales for both those who want to watch them and those who want to eat them. Conservation of whale resources and respect for cultural diversity and international law should be the objective of all members of the IWC.


Key points from this, as I have been saying:
- If the anti-whaling nations don't like the ICRW, they should get out
- The Humpback population which is supposedly "endangered" is in fact booming at a generally accepted rate of about 10%
- Research whaling programmes are undoutedly legal, and bringing court action against Japan would be a huge own goal for the anti-whalers
- Unlike cake, it is possible to watch your whales, and eat them too. There's plenty of whales to go around.

Dan Goodman was in New Zealand a few years ago. I remember seeing him go head to head live on NZ TV with the then Environment Minister - Sandra "Whaling is despicable" Lee. Poor old Sandra got a good thrashing on that occassion. The western media would do well to take Goodman's comment on whaling issues more often.

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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.


IWC 2005: Eugene Lapointe tells it like it is

Former Secretary-General of CITES (1982-1990) Eugene Lapointe writes a letter to the Ottawa Citizen:

Dear Sir:

Mark Anderson struggles to identify a reason why abundant whales shouldn’t be harvested on a sustainable basis (“Saving the whales is simply the right thing to do”, 2 June 2005).

His personal feeling that killing whales is wrong is a reasonable justification for him not to go whaling. However, it is not sufficient ethical reasoning to justify trying to impose those convictions on fishermen in other countries who have very different feelings.

It is important that we consider how and why wildlife is utilized before we make ethical judgments on others. Japanese people have eaten whale meat for centuries, Japan only hunts abundant whales, it does so on a sustainable basis, its harvests are carried out lawfully, the whales are fully utilized, and Japanese scientists study whale populations to improve understanding of sustainable yields.

From an environmental point of view, consumers of seafood should be encouraged to choose meat from well-managed fisheries. This is the case with Japan’s whaling program and it provides sufficient justification for the harvests.

It is surely a moral imperative that we rely on more than just our feelings when trying to influence others on how to utilize wildlife or other natural resources.

Kind regards
Eugene Lapointe

There is an interesting story behind Eugene Lapointe's dismissal from CITES in 1990:

Lapointe left his post at CITES dramatically on November 2, 1990, when he was dismissed by UNEP executive director Mostapha Tolba. The campaign to remove him was led by a handful of U.S. officials and 28 major NGOs, who, according to Lapointe, “claimed I had become the worst criminal on the planet.” His crime was advocating a sustainable-use philosophy that allowed for scientifically directed hunting of whales, elephants, and other animals, especially in situations that respect local cultural values.

Thirty months later, a Panel of Judges at the United Nations described Lapointe’s dismissal as “capricious and arbitrary,” resulting from “the worst case of character assassination in the history of the United Nations.” In a unanimous decision, the judges vindicated Lapointe, awarded him financial compensation, ordered his reinstatement, and forced the U.N. secretary general to write a letter stating that Lapointe "had fulfilled his duties and responsibilities in every way and in a highly satisfactory manner.”

This sort of business that the anti-whaling, anti-sustainable-use NGOs indulge in should have been their downfall long ago. One hopes that one day the MSM can see this bunch of fraudsters for what they are.


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