Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
John Frizell recently took the time to respond to comments I posted
here on my blog, after having difficulties with the submission process on the Greenpeace site. I'd firstly offer my thanks to the good people who run the Greenpeace web blog for their sincere handling of the technical problems.
I'd like to take the opportunity now to comment on Mr. Frizell's response
.1) Greenpeace's mischaracterization of Article VIII as a "loophole"
Frizell states that Greenpeace's reasoning for declaring research whaling to be a loophole is because Article VIII was not intended to allow "an entire national whaling industry to be based on it".
This was an interesting response in that the reason why the only whaling Japan conducts today is under scientific permit is due to the global moratorium on commercial whaling that took effect in 1986. Given that the goals of the ICRW were to both see cooperation amongst nations to conserve stocks of great whales and make for whaling industry, the drafters and original signatories of the ICRW would certainly never have forseen that an indefinite moratorium on all whaling might in future be imposed, making the current situation what it is. Thus, while from the point of view of Greenpeace (and other organizations that oppose whaling) Article VIII of the ICRW might be described as "an inconvenience" or "an annoyance", it most certainly does not meet the standard criteria of "a loophole". In this regard, I would suggest to Greenpeace that they drop this language, as it could mislead people as to the true nature of Article VIII.2) Internationally renowned scientists and lethal research
Frizell also goes on to question the credentials of Dr. Ray Gambell, former secretary of the IWC, failing to acknowledge that, having served more than 2 decades in that position with 37 years total involvement with the organization, he is most certainly a dependable source when it comes to interpretation of the IWC's convention and the rules under which they operate.
Those unfamiliar with Dr. Gambell may be interested to note that in addition to his roles at the IWC,
Indeed, one wonders if Greenpeace could tell us of a source more uniquely equipped to judge such matters as the legality of research whaling.
But its certainly not just the former secretary to the IWC who affirms the legality and necessity of lethal research to obtain the information that the Japanese are seeking. "Martin Cawthorn is a scientist, writer and member of the IWC scientific committee in Plimmerton, a seaside village just outside New Zealand's capital city. While some New Zealanders argue that the Japanese can do their scientific research from genetic sampling, he says, they "would change or modify their opinion" if they had any idea how difficult it is to gather such information in the Antarctic region.
Before Mr Frizell questions Martin Cawthorn's credentials as well, I would note that he has:
Given all of this, I have to respectfully note that I can not accept Frizell's assurances that there are no cetacean scientists in the world who support Japan's research programmes.3) Sustainability of whaling
Frizell then (quite rightly) states that the question at the heart of the issue is whether or not sustainable whaling is possible. Frizell suggests a few recent episodes from history are sufficient proof that the answer to the question is no. Whaling history does include quite a catalog of mistakes, but history can certainly not be considered a proof that sustainable whaling is not possible. Indeed, even if Frizell and the Greenpeace organization believe that to be the case, the majority of the IWC contracting governments certainly do not:
- All IWC contracting nations have signed the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which makes it quite clear that sustainable utilization of the world's whale resources is it's goal
- The IWC adopted the "Revised Management Procedure" in 1994, clearly indicating the belief of contracting nations that sustainable whaling is possible.
For readers who are unaware, "the rmp is the scientific element of an overall [whaling] plan
. Key elements include (1) being stock-specific rather than species-specific, (2) requiring regular systematic surveys to determine abundance if commercial whaling is to continue, (3) incorporating uncertainty in a risk-averse manner, and (4) attempting to make the quota-setting process as objective as possible." The IWC's scientific committee developed the RMP, and unanimously recommended it to the IWC. This is quite remarkable considering "that the majority of the Scientific Committee come from anti-whaling countries and that some are affiliated with anti-whaling organizations
, a scientist from South Africa and member of the IWC Scientific Committee has also noted: "From the scientific side, the RMP has been more thoroughly researched and tested than any comparable marine resource management system worldwide
. Its own requirement for regular sighting surveys, as well as the regular review process associated with its implementation for any species and region, ensures adequate monitoring. It is so risk averse that the only real scientific basis for questioning its immediate implementation is that it is so conservative that it will waste much of a potential harvest."
Thus, from a scientific perspective, I again respectfully find myself questioning Frizell's assertions that sustainable whaling is not possible, as opposed to having just been botched on certain previous mis-attempts, notably by those whalers seeking oil.4) Sanctuaries and the global commercial whaling moratorium
Frizell notes that the ICR is conducting research in an area that has been designated as a whale sanctuary. This is certainly the case today, but in future the sanctuary, and at least the global commercial whaling moratorium, will likely be overturned as these instruments together currently prevent the IWC from achieving it's goals of both whale stock conservation as well as the orderly development of whaling industry. One also has to note that from conservation and scientific perspectives the creation of the sanctuary in the southern ocean when a global commercial whaling moratorium was already in place, has served little if any purpose.5) Greenpeace's opposition to whaling globally
Frizell then comments that Greenpeace has opposed whaling by a number of nations, and that whaling is not about culture. As should be evident from the above, the whaling controversy is certainly not about science anymore - but not about culture? One wonders why it is then that Greenpeace has questioned the notion that whale consumption is a part of Japanese culture, for example. Whale consumption culture in Japan is just as much a part of Japanese culture, as is the minority Maori culture to New Zealand culture. In other parts of the world such as Northern Alaska, people have been sustainably harvesting whales for food and feeding their community for 3000 years. The USA has also chosen to respect this minority culture. Furthermore, one has to wonder why Greenpeace does not employ similar tactics to obstruct whaling operations conducted by other nations (Norway's commercial hunt for example) as are currently being employed in the Southern Ocean.6) The lack of respect for international agreements
Frizell concludes by noting that the IWC with a slim anti-whaling majority passed a resolution urging against the JARPA II proposal, stating that those anti-whaling nations find such opposition compatible with their IWC membership. Whether those nations wish to believe their voting patterns are consistent with their membership is one thing - over the years the New Zealand and Australian governments in particular have publicly stated their opposition to any sort of whaling, whatsoever. One has to question the judgement of any government who believes that this stance is in any way consistent with an International agreement that has a clear purpose to make for the orderly development of whaling industry.
The current situation at the IWC can be likened to a ship at a port set to sail for Whaling City. All the sailors fully understand at the outset that the destination is Whaling City. After setting sail, a certain number of the sailors decide that they do not wish to go to Whaling City any longer. Instead of getting off the ship at the nearest port and honourably leaving the remaining crew members to reach their goal, they attempt to prevent them from continuing on to the goal agreed to at the outset.
This behaviour on the part of the anti-whaling contracting governments is an international disgrace bearing similarity to mutiny. One fears that it sets a terrible precedent for the future of other international agreements on global environment and conservation issues.