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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 2006: Norwegian gamesmanship

One of the great ironies regarding the anti-whaling bloc's stubborn refusal to permit any level of commercial whaling is that they are rendering themselves without means to even influence the decision making processes. They are so extreme in their anti-whaling stance that Norway is forced to exercise its right to set its own catch limit, rather than a limit set by the IWC. This season they increased their limit to 1052.

Were the IWC to actually start carrying out it's stated functions and set non-zero catch limits, Norway would no doubt comply with the change in Schedule, and their whalers would then be only be allowed to catch as many whales as set by the IWC. The anti-whaling nations might at least be able to "save" some number of whales in that case. Yet such a change will only come about if countries opposed to whaling made a greater effort to find a compromise within the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Anti-whaling nations are failing to contribute to whale conservation efforts by taking their uncompromising extreme protectionist stance.

Hi David,

The minority of three pro whaling nations stubborn refusal to accept a democratically agreed moratorium on commercial whaling and their ability to ignore and opt out of any restrictions they dislike at the voting stage, illustrates how important it is that the IWC is re-organised to reflect the conservation and non-lethal exploitation requirements of the 21st century, rather than the unsustainable commercial whaling practises of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Were the IWC to actually start enforcing the zero catch limits of the moratorium and close the loopholes that allow three nations to continue subsidising their whaling fleets in the name of political expediency; Norway would no doubt comply, expanding its eco-tourism exploitation of whales and employ ex whalers in this industry or in other areas of its fishing industry.

In view of the current archaic rules that allow any whaling nation to ignore / opt out of any IWC restrictions they do not like, merely by registering an objection at the voting stage; in the unlikely event of the IWC setting catch limits, Norway would be free to register an objection and ignore those limits and set a higher one, in the same way it currently ignores the moratorium, contrary to your disingenuous suggestions otherwise.

So extreme is the norwegian pro-whaling lobby that this season Norway again increased its annual quota, despite a toxic product, dwindling home consumption, virtually non-existant export market and a hugely expensive stockpile of unwanted whale products.

The moratorium 'saves' more whales than catch limits. This has been clearly demonstrated by the increase in some whale populations since the moratorium was introduced.
There is thus no reason for the majority of non-whaling nations to accomadate the rapacious economic interests in Norway, Japan and Iceland who are eyeing the potential of the fertiliser, fish meal and pet food markets.

The moratorium is the way the anti-whaling nations will continue to save a larger number of whales than by compromising their position to pander to the political expediency of a tiny minority.

Anti-whaling nations have contributed enormously to whale conservation by taking an uncompromising stance in the face of the extreme rapaciousness of commercial interests.
Oh, you're back. No mindless abuse to start with this time - that's promising!

A lot to respond to there, so in the interests of keeping this manageable, allow me to stick some numbers here and there.

What exactly are "the conservation and non-lethal exploitation requirements of the 21st century" you talk about, and where were those requirements agreed upon and defined?

I really am stumped, because just the other day I was reading a document at the FAO site (http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/MEETING/005/Y8083E.HTM)
where they talk about "effective conservation and sustainable use of the ecosystem and its resources"

Certainly nothing there about "non-lethal exploitation requirements"...

Perhaps the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has not been brought up to speed on all of this?

Google doesn't help me either!

Hmm. On the other hand, I think you're just making up such nonsense for my amusement :)

Were the IWC to morph into an anti-whaling body (as seems to be your desire), there's no reason to believe Norway would comply with enforced zero catch limits, instead it would simply withdraw from the convention altogether (you know what Article XI says, right?), most probably continuing its rational whale utilization under the NAMMCO framework instead.

And in the first instance, it's simply not feasible to change the ICRW, and even if it were possible there's no way to force whaling nations to comply with it.

So going forward, why don't we avoid discussing the hypothetical, thanks.

Norway would indeed be free to lodge a formal objection with regard to even non-zero catch limits, as would any ICRW signatory.

Yet, if the IWC were actually fulfiling it's obligations under the ICRW, and Norway still refused to comply with the ICRW, why would Norway remain signatory to the convention at all?

Of course, providing that the IWC set the non-zero catch limit in full accordance with the ICRW, in particular with respect to Article V (Para. 2), there is little reason to believe Norway would lodge and exercise its right of objection. Even now, Norway currently sets its catch limits in accordance with the IWC's RMP, rather than an independantly devised CLA.

The point I make is that to prevent Norway taking such unlikely measures as those you fear (unilateral potentially unsustainable whaling out of irresponsibility or plain simple exhasperation), the anti-whaling nations would be better off cutting their losses and conceeding that the IWC should set non-zero catch limits, and through the spirit of international compromise, achieve a better outcome than that in which your far-fetched nightmares actual come to pass.

You hypothesise that Norway would go on a whaling rampage were a non-zero catch limit set by the IWC - the fact is that, non-zero catch limit or not, Norway can do whatever it likes TODAY.

That the situation has not come to this already is a credit to the responsible government of Norway, rather than kudos to the stubborn irrational stance of the hard-core anti-whaling nations.

The moratorium has had nothing much at all to do with increases in certain whale populations.
The humpback populations have been on the increase since hunting of those stocks ceased way back in the 60's (when the Australians killed as many as 1400 humpbacks in a single season). The minke populations were never depleted in the first place. The Antartic Blue whale has only just started to show signs of recovery, after 20 years of commercial moratorium, and many many more years since hunting of the Blues ceased.

How you associate increases in certain whale stocks with the 1985/86 moratorium, rather than with prior (and justified) conservation measures, I do not know.

Would you care to elucidate on that one with a logical argument and some some factual information?

Whaling nations may be few in number, but nations who support the principle of sustainable use of marine ecosystem resources are clearly in the majority globally.
Go read the UN's FAO website if you need to be brought up to speed on this.

You speak of pet food. Would you care to elucidate on that one too?
Nah... I KNOW already that you have failed to check the facts, so feel free to save yourself the bother and an trotting out a silly argument that I've already looked into and descredited. I have been meaning to do a blog entry on that actually, but haven't got around to it yet.

You talk about increasing eco-tourism instead of whale consumption.

There is nothing to stop British sofa-conservationists from flying themselves up to Norway today, and illustrate that there is a demand to go out into the Atlantic and watch whales.

The Norwegian whalers know that they can put food on the table by killing whales, but other than your assurance, what reason do they have to believe that they could put more food on the table by way of eco-tourism?

Why don't you organise a plane of british tourists to go up there asap, and tell the whaling captains that you've got money and you want to see some whales? Then do the same again next year, to keep them so busy that they have no time to kill whales. And the year after that.

Rather than criticising and hypothesizing from infront of your computer screen, why don't you organise this and prove that you aren't talking a load of nonsense?
Don't want to be pessimistic , but it seems like tourists in Norway , don't know that Norway is a whaling country.

According to local paper Lofotsposten, in Lofoten, major whaling community , the tourist industry is almost overexploited, some locals even don't want more tourists, and most tourists are from Germany, a strong anti whaling country. But unfortunately according to the tourist bureau, the Germans and other tourists don't know that Norway is a whaling country.

As for Norway being a whaling country most Swedes , who are against whaling , have no clue that Norway is whaling.
The Norwegian fishermen's/ whaler's boats are used in summertime( April-September) as whaling boats and in the winter season as fishing boats.

A question arise, what are the ex whaler's now whalewatching guides going to do in the winter season as the whale watching boats can't be used in fishing activities. Just a thought!!! More options are needed:)
There are very good whale watching opportunities in Norway, for example in Andenes during the summer season and orca watching in Tystfjord during some weeks in the winter. And the tourists are mostly people from anti whaling countries.
Whale watching in Norway:


Nice link Ann.

Interesting to note that Japan is also included on that list.

Just goes to show that whale watching operations and whaling activities are not incompatible.

I have a friend in Shikoku, and plan to go visit in Summer, so maybe I'll be able to take in some whale watching while I'm there :-)
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