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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: Live blogging - Day 5

[22:22 JST] Final day! Here we go :-)

Just trying to figure out if there is anything interesting left on the agenda today or not... There should be something interesting left to go...

[23:56 JST] Henrik is breaking for coffee...

There are no major issues regarding whaling outstanding today it seems, just administrative issues.

[01:33 JST] Just a vote going on now about a financial matter... good night all! And thanks for joining me for the IWC 58 :-) Do continue to drop by, as I will certainly be writing more on various aspects of this.

[01:36 JST] St Kitts and Nevis final resolution proposal has just gone down 30-30 with 4 abstentions, but it was a financial issue - not directly related to whaling. The voting was very much split between developed and developing nations - a similar breakdown as to the actual whaling votes.

[01:39 JST] The USA has just offered $30,000 USD to St Kitts and Nevis in relation to the financial issue they have encountered. Congratulations USA.

And that's really it! Bed time!

[06:59 JST] Below is Japan's closing statement to the IWC for 2006:




The historic 58th Annual Meeting of the Whaling Commission in the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis will be remembered for endorsing that the moratorium on sustainable commercial whaling is no longer necessary. The IWC has now begun the process for bringing its functions back on track as a resource management organization that regulates and monitors sustainable whaling.

The polarized debate has for too long held back the IWC and brought the organisation to its knees. It has not fulfilled its obligations to its charter document – the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling 1946 – for the last 20 years. The dysfunctional nature of the IWC is caused by the fundamental differences in the position of its members and over the years has become a mere stage for emotional and political conflicts at the sacrifice of its original mission.

The current situation can no longer continue and has compelled the majority of members to initiate a process where the IWC can be “normalized”. Almost 40 of the Whaling Commission’s members have already taken first step on the path to normalization. As a result, Japan is pleased to be able to host an independent meeting of these concerned members early next year to discuss ways in which the Whaling Commission can be brought back on track to completing and implementing regulated and monitored commercial whaling.

We are convinced that the IWC can only be saved from its current crisis by respecting and interpreting the whaling charter in good faith. This means protecting endangered and depleted species while allowing the sustainable utilization of abundant species under a controlled, transparent and science-based management regime. In this regard, we are pleased that the Commission did not adopt any resolution against our research programs.

We are pleased the Whaling Commission passed by consensus our resolution urging NGOs to act in a non-violent manner when making their views known about whaling. All members are deeply concerned over the increasingly aggressive nature of Greenpeace’s illegal interference with our research programme in the Antarctic. We believe this resolution will provide added weight to taking further action against Greenpeace at the next IWC meeting if they repeat their activities against us this Austral summer.

Use of cetaceans, like other fishery resources, contributes to sustainable coastal communities, sustainable livelihoods, food security and poverty reduction. Whales should be treated as any other marine living resources available for harvesting subject to conservation and science-based management. Scientifically and legally, there is no reason to treat cetaceans differently.


Actually, they're speaking about having technical documents translated in french language as many french speaking member countries (specially African countries) cannot afford this by themslelves.
Now, they also want spanish to recognized as one of the official languages of the IWC...

What about mongolian?

What about Japan?

Japan being one of the most contributing country at the IWC, I suppose you're right, Y/H.

I guess Japan is bringing its own interpreters and translators.
Well, you know that Japan contributes so much science to the IWC, I guess they don't need it translated back to them :-)
Now, the Spanish commissioner is speaking in french!!
Thank you.isanatori-san.
I will buy more wine from France:-)

(I know the wine from NZ is also
nice,David-san.Personally I prefer lamb,though)

I know they are talking about Financial statements and budgets,but I am afraid Japan's
bugets is limited.

I like lamb too, but lamb with wine is a good thing!
Debiddo san koso otsukaresama desu.
I truly admire you for your efforts you put in the whaling debate on Crisscross. I know it's hard and often frustrating to deal with those people who are irrational and emotional, to say the least.

It seems, based on the photos I found in your blog of you and some Japanese girls, that you've been having a pretty good time here in Japan. Hope you'll continue to do so throughout your stay. Good luck!
Ganbatte kudasaine. Soredewa.

Those photos must be not far off two years old now :-) I might flick them open an do some reminiscing later.

I have been having fun though, yes. Tokyo is a great city to live.
Cetaceans being lumped into the fisheries domain is odd considering cetaceans are mammals. Whales, dolphins, porpoises are not the same as fishes. And our fisheries are in deep trouble anyway, so acting as if it is all right to take what we want from the ocean with no limits is really not sustainable thinking.

Thank you for joining the discussion.

In response to your comment, the thing I want to stress most of all is that no one is saying that people should be able to "take what we want from the ocean with no limits".

Not at all.

And I think this is why so many people in the west are against whaling - because they do not understand the position of the whalers properly.

As Joji Morishita has put it recently, the position of the pro-sustainable use nations is:

"Allowing sustainable use of abundant species while protecting the depleted..."

Sustainable use of abundant species means to utilise those resources within limits. Utilising resources without limits is by definition, unsustainable, and that's not what the whaling nations are looking to allow for.

Another way to describe the difference between the pro and anti-whalers is that the pro-whalers are for conservation, whereas the anti-whalers are for protection.

In the west, there has been a successful campaign to define "conservation" as meaning "protection".

"Conservation" means using resources, but using them only at levels that do not jeopardise the viability of those resources for our future generations to also benefit from. This is a standard dictionary definition of conservation.

On your other points, cetaceans being lumped into the fisheries domain is accurate. A fishery is an "industry devoted to the catching, processing, or selling of fish, shellfish, or other aquatic animals".

The way in which humans are proposing to manage whale resource utilisation bears much resemblance to the way in which other fisheries are managed.

Fisheries have indeed seen some unsustainable practices over the years, but many nations still pursue these industries because they understand that there are great benefits to be had if we properly ensure these operations are sustainable.

It's easy for people who don't eat much fish to suggest that fisheries should end, but such a suggestion is not acceptable to people in parts of the world where there is greater reliance on marine resources for sustenance.
Well, thankfully Joji Morishita mentions depleted species, because I am not sure what he is referring to when he talk of sustainable use of abundant species. Which species are those? From what I know, many whales are endangered, and if not endangered their populations are still not what they were before the time of commercial whaling. As for fishes, most are overfished these days. Stellar sea lions are starving because they can't compete with the fisheries. Sea jellies are out of control in some areas because the fishes that would be keeping their numbers in check are now gone. I don't see how a discussion of sustainable practices can begin until it is agreed that our oceans are in deep trouble and that many marine species are coming into direct competition with us humans in some way. And I do not see a distinction between antiwhalers being for protection and not conservation. I am very much for both as an anti-whale advocate. I do not suggest the world should become vegetarians, although I do think that would solve a number of issues, and greatly help with global warming. I know many peoples depend on fish and other ocean animals and plants for sustenance. I am not saying people should starve, just that there are going to have to be some lifestyle changes for everyone if we are going to manage to preserve ourselves and other species in the world.
> Well, thankfully Joji Morishita mentions depleted species,

Yes, thankfully indeed.

The Japanese have no intention of hunting the Blue Whales, for example. The Blue Whale in the Antarctic is now recognised to be recovering at a rate of 7% each year, but as the total numbers are still only 1,400 or so (last I heard), there are no plans to hunt this species.

Which species is he talking about?

The Antarctic minke stock is the main species of commercial interest.

The IWC Scientific Committee estimated the size of this species in the Antarctic to be 760,000, as of 1990. The IWC Scientific Committee isn't able to provide a current estimate. They were due to agree on a new estimate recently, but last austral summer some experiments in the Antarctic revealed that minke whales sightings surveys have probably produced negatively biased estimates, so we'll have to wait until next year or maybe longer for a current estimate, to give the scientists time to evaluate the information.

Pre-whaling, this stock was believed to be only around 80,000 in size, if I recall correctly. Scientists believe that it boomed as industrial whalers hunted down the larger, more profitable species, one after the other. The minke was never seriously overhunted by whalers.

Also, the Humpback whales are rapidly increasing the the Antarctic, and the indications are that several of these stocks will be fully recovered within the next 1 or 2 decades. Australian scientists have confirmed that these stocks are booming at rates of 10% each year.

The Japanese believe that the Fin whale is also recovering strongly, based on their research.

At any rate, the latter two stocks are not likely to be hunted commercial soon. Japan is planning to take just 50 of each species each year for research purposes, to help better understand the biological characteristics of these populations and how they are changing over time.

In the North Pacific, the 'O' stock of the minke whale and the Bryde's whales are regarded as being abundant.

> From what I know, many whales are endangered

Yes. This would include the Blue whale globally, and the western pacific gray whale, and some others. Japan doesn't want to hunt these, because of their endangered status.

The Fin whale is apparently regarded by the IUCN as "endangered", but Japan is challenging this classification at the moment, because they believe scientific evidence shows otherwise.
Unfortunately the IUCN seems to have been compromised, politically, in recent times:

> if not endangered their populations are still not what they were before the time of commercial whaling.

This is true in many cases, but under IWC rules, whales won't be hunted commercially until they are at least 54% of their pre-whaling abundance estimate. Japan agrees with these rules. Otherwise, Japan is permitting it's Institute of Cetacean Research to take just 50 of these whales each year for research purposes.

In the interests of being fair, the anti-whaling camp believes the research is a sham, but I certainly can't agree, based on what I have seen - I'm looking forward to hearing about the results of the research. If you are interested in their plans, you can read about them here: http://www.icrwhale.org/JARPAIIResearchPlan.htm.

Certainly, many fisheries are being overutilised at the present time.

I think the IWC's Revised Management Procedure is very promising, in this respect. It is a very conservative procedure for setting catch limits for whales.
Greg Donovan, head of science at the IWC has some brief information about it here:

> And I do not see a distinction between antiwhalers being for protection and not conservation.

Many people who are anti-whaling oppose whaling regardless of how many they are. They oppose because they believe that whales are "special". This is what I refer to when I talk about protection.

By conservation, I mean that sustainable use is permitted, that is, use should be conservative to ensure that populations are not depleted, so that populations won't need to be protected. Unfortunately, in the past catches were not conservative, and hence protection was required.

> I am very much for both as an anti-whale advocate.

In that, do you mean that you wish to see whales that are endangered protected right now? If this is the case, then I am on the same page. Protection is certainly important where endangered species are concerned, and all anthropogenic removals of members of those stocks must be prevented.

But I don't accept that protection is neccessary for other species such as the minke whale, which is known to be far more populous today than prior to industrial whaling.

For these stocks, conservation only requires that catches be sustainable. Protection is not required.

> I do not suggest the world should become vegetarians, although I do think that would solve a number of issues, and greatly help with global warming.

Is this because of cattle methane emissions, and so on? Cutting down trees to make way for farms? I wonder whether grains can be produced in an environmentally sustainable manner, as well.

I personally don't think farming animals is an environmentally friendly way of obtaining food for our populations, but with natural resource utilisation, the food production is completely natural. Whales reproduce and grow without our intervention. We then finally harvest nature's surplus. This also means that it is in our best interests to ensure we keep the natural environment nice and clean.

I agree that changes in lifestyles are required, although perhaps we differ on the content. I think we should look to make better use of the world's natural resources, to limit the needs to feed our populations with farmed products.
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