Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
Day two of the meeting is just getting underway. Henrik Fischer has announced that agenda item #7 is first on the menu for today. This is regarding aboriginal subsistence whaling. Under discussion is an SLA (strike limit algorithim) for aboriginal whaling which has been approved by the Scientific Committee. A priority issue at this meeting is aboriginal whaling off Greenland. Last year the Scientific Committee noted many issues in this area. The mood at the Sub-Committee dealing with these issues were better than last year apparently, as a result of progress made by scientists in addressing some of the issues raised at IWC 57. Britain in particular noted concerns last year, and appreciated the work done.[22:26 JST]
The Bowhead stock which the Alaskans take is in good shape. 10,500 is the estimate, with a growth rate of more than 3%. Apparently a record number of calves were counted in the recent work. The landing versus strike rate is apparently up to above 80% in recent times (some whales are struck and lost).[22:29 JST]
A report now on the AWS (Aboriginal Whaling Scheme) that goes along with the Bowhead SLA.[22:33 JST]
Now on to Grey whales off the north east pacific. Pretty much status quo with regards to this hunt. Austria is questioning about the Makah tribe's not hunting due to legal reasons. Apparently there has been co-operation between the Russian hunters and Makah hunters, as the Makah hunters have not been able to catch whales in recent years. The Russians have been assisting them with training on hunting. The Russians are now responding to a question from Austria on a high struck and lost ratio in 2005. The reason for this is because the Russian aboriginal hunters are trying to target larger whales, and bad weather during the year.[22:45 JST]
A report on minke whale hunting in Greenland now. Last year the Scientific Committee said that it had no scientific basis for advising on management. However, this year the SC was in a better position. A new abundance estimate had been made, and some other information regarding sex ratios is also available. The aerial abundance survey conducted this year showed no significant different to that in 1993, although questions about stock structure remains. Ultimately, the SC is still not able to provide authoratitve management advice on this stock. Again, the SC agreed that the IWC should exercise caution when setting catch limits for the Greenland minke whales.
Britain asked a dumb question about whether the sex of five whales which was unknown was because this was unreported information, or because it could not be determined. Denmark noted that it was because the information had not been reported.[22:51 JST]
Greenland Fin whales. Again, the SC notes that it's in better position to provide advice on this stock this year as well. The latest abundance estimate was not too different from that in 1987/88. Some SC members believed 19 animals would be a safe level of catch, but there was not agreement on this point. Australia was happy that the SC had agreed on a new abundance estimate (me: apparently for Australia, whale killing is OK if you are "native" enough).[22:57 JST]
A single female Humpback whale was captured by St Vincent and the Grenadines. These are part of the greater west indies breeding stock. A limit of 20 animals was set for the period through 2003 to 2007.[22:59 JST]
Greenland notes that they support the sustainable use of resources by all people who are dependant on those resources. Greenland is not happy to reduce quotas without sound scientific advice, but in line with the precautionary principle, their quota has been voluntarily reduced due to the concerns expressed by the scientific committee.[23:12 JST]
Discussion has moved on to the RMP. Norway's proposal to modify the RMP is being reported now. The SC didn't have time to review the results of the proposal in detail, but they did discuss general issues. The Chair of the SC is noting that the SC isn't about to advise the IWC on changes at this stage, and at such a time, a decision to accept the changes would be a political one, not a scientific one.
Next they discussed details for implementation for the Bryde's whale in the north west pacific. Trials have been developed in accordance with SC guidelines. The SC is on schedule to complete implementation by the next meeting. Next, Fin whales in the north atlantic. The SC doesn't want to start pre-implementation for this stock until 2007 due to high workload.
Last item is related to by-catch estimation in cooperation with the FAO.[23:25 JST]
Iceland is expressing surprise that the IWC SC has said they won't be able to start work on the North Atlantic fin stock implementation work. Iceland is concerned that despite the rich data available on the fin stock in question, this item has been given a lower priority. She is wondering whether the lack of resources noted by the SC chair might be addressed were they reassigned away from items such as whale-watching.
Australia now going whinge about Norway's proposal. They are concerned that four different adjustments have been made at once, and worry about assessing the changes because of this.
Japan now speaking. Japan believes the existing RMP is too conservative, and supports Norway's efforts to improve in this area.
Britain whining about Norway's proposal now, refering to the 1994 consensus resolution that adopted the RMP. Britain believes that the SC shouldn't be doing such assessment of this proposal, since the IWC did not direct them to.[23:26 JST]
SC Chair now responding to the questions. He notes that the data may be ready, but the SC is still too busy with other work. He notes that reassigning resources would not help, as the resources are tied up with ongoing work for the Bryde's implementation. The SC has decided to use the existing 100 year time frame for the CLA in evaluating the Norwegian proposal to allow for comparison with the existing CLA. Australia is trying to make a political point that the SC shouldn't be evaluating Norway's proposal. The SC Chair states that it understands that it is within the mandate of the SC to undertake the work - asking for clarification from the IWC Head of Science now. The Head of Science notes that the IWC can tell the SC what to include in it's workplan. Britain stresses that it prefers the work not be being undertaken (but of course ;-))[23:45 JST]
Broken for coffee - back in 35 minutes.[00:15 JST]
Just while I wait - Chris Carter again with a verbal gaffe
today. He describes eco-tourism as "more sustainable" than consumptive use of these renewable resources. Sustainable is black and white - it either is, or it isn't. There are no degrees of "sustainable".[00:35 JST]
Back again, after some tech issues (with me). No agenda item 6 today apparently. items 14 and 18 later today. Now to item 8 on the RMS.[00:45 JST]
Not much interesting here. Japan is noting that the RMS process is broken down, and they are angry that the proposals have been full of unpractical measures. Instead, Japan is now looking towards normalization of the IWC to make progress. Japan is looking for constructive discussions from nations supporting the sustainable use of resources on new proposals. Japan maintains its interest in an RMS that has the principles of the ICRW at it's heart. They look forward to normalization of the IWC for this purpose.[00:51 JST]
Denmark is criticising nations who voted against RMS proposals who also don't take any whales. Denmark notes that this cements the current situation with whales being taken by other nations. Denmark notes that the policies of these nations does not help the whales. (Fantastic!!)[00:54 JST]
Palau now with it's first words. The IWC has spent 15 years and achieved nothing. Discussions were suspended at the recent meeting in Cambridge. Time and resources are being wasted. Palau suggests other alternatives be explored to meet the mandate of the IWC. Thus, Palau supports Japan's normalization document.[00:56 JST]
UK to crap on about the "code of conduct" for Article VIII of the ICRW now. The UK isn't happy with it (it wants a hard and fast set of rules, rather than a non-binding code).
UK now noting Denmark's comments. The UK refutes the criticism, saying they participated in good faith. The UK says that they put an RMS offer forward previously, but the whaling nations said it was impossible for them. The UK says that an RMS that ignores scientific whaling and has no compliance measures for it is not acceptable.
Now Iceland. Iceland stating that there was no will at the previous meeting in Cambridge to make progress on the RMS. Nothing has changed since the last meeting, nor any indication that this situation will change in future.
Guinea now. French language again.
St Lucia associates itself with Guinea, and also supports the completion of an RMS. St Lucia also looks for the IWC to be normalized to focus back on to it's mandate.
Australia states openly that it doesn't want commercial whaling, and won't agree to any RMS. Addressing Denmark's comments, he states that it is countries killing whales under Article VIII, not Australia. He notes that even under the convention, scientific whaling cannot be controlled. He talks about killing 1000 minke whales in the Antarctic (misinformation!) and notes that the proposed RMS packages can't address this scientific whaling.
New Zealand's Geoff Palmer now. He states that New Zealand has participated at all meetings on the RMS in recent times. He's reeling off a list of conditions New Zealand wants for the RMS. He says that the RMS he proposes is in line with best international practice. Blah blah blah, says the same thing over and over... ugh!
St Kitts & Nevis now. He associates himself with the comments of Palau. St Kitts & Nevis too have participated for over 8 years on RMS proposals. He notes that the costs of these meetings are high, for no avail. He hopes for a way to move forward on the RMS.[01:20 JST]
Henrik Fischer trying to close the list of speakers now. Still 10 more to go. Japan will speak again at the end of all of this.
Sweden does not agree with Denmark's comments, and agrees with the UK.
USA notes that people think the IWC is failing in it's responsbilities. Over 1000 extra whales will be taken this year. The USA wants to find a way forward. They realise that this issue is controversial, and trust needs to be built amongst nations. Even though USA might not support a new RMS, they acknowledge that one needs to be developed.
Another French speaker now, probably France.
Hehehe, South Africa given the floor, despite not having asked for it - gets a laugh
Antigua & Barbuda getting a word now. Also noting the strong ideological positions and lack of respect for coastal states to use whales for food. They call for the IWC to return to their original mandate.
Germany now... Germany's view is that the whaling nations have not compromised. They too see scientific whaling as a problem.
The Swiss point out that parties should be aiming to compromise, rather than to blame other parties.
Second round for 3 speakers now - Brazil:
Brazil agrees with NZ, Australia, UK. Technically, he wants to know why highly technically advanced nations do not want to use best international practices. Politically, he wants to know why whaling nations don't want to discuss the non-lethal use of whales.
Henrik Fischer notes that Brazil's use of the word "criminal" was not appropriate.
Japan now. Thanking Henrik for his ruling. Japan notes that Japan has whale watching too, and does not deny the rights of nations to non-consumptive use. Japan generally agrees with the USA. The IWC is a management organization. Discussions are repeated, year after year. He notes that Japan has repeatedly supported the chair's proposal, which included many international best practices, including international observers, and even agreed on how these observers should be chosen. These agreements have been ignored, and nations have said that Japan has not accepted observers, which is simply not correct. Although reluctantly, Japan has agreed with the chair's package as a way forward. He can't understand why Japan's stance has not been correctly recorded by other nations. Morishita has noted that an alphabet soup of all the best international practices is not necessary to achieve a suitable RMS. A suitable mix is sufficient.
Henrik Fischer summarizes, noting as chair that the RMS discussions are at an impasse. He clarifies that he'll close the agenda item tomorrow afternoon, unless someone comes up with great ideas.[01:50 JST]
About to break for lunch! Item 19 will be next on the agenda, from 14:30 local time.
Yet again today, discussions were a total waste of time. I read the RMS report from the Cambridge meeting previously, and today find myself none the wiser.
The e-kujira portal site has a video digest
from the opening day opening ceremony.
That's it for this post. Back afterwards, assuming I can awake from my slumber :-)