Smaller Nations Aiding Effort to Overturn Whaling BanHere's another article on this from New Zealand:
Sunday , June 18, 2006
FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts — Small nations that support commercial whale hunting threw their support behind a resolution at the International Whaling Commission on Sunday to overturn a 20-year ban on the practice.
If approved, it would mark a victory for pro-whalers after two days of narrow defeats that have left conservationists in charge of the 60-year-old organization. Dubbed the St. Kitts Declaration, the resolution was authored by six Caribbean nations.
"This is the big one," said Chris Carter, New Zealand's Conservation Minister. "The whalers are hopeful that they have the numbers at last."
Delegates from small Caribbean and African countries said the resolution was needed to force the IWC to take up its original mandate of managing whale hunts — not banning them altogether.
The resolution declares that the moratorium on commercial whaling was meant to be temporary and is no longer valid. Although most measures to overturn the ban require a 75 percent majority, the resolution would need a simple majority to pass.
Caribbean environmental and tourist groups rejected the resolution and released a competing one calling for whale conservation.
Both Japan and Iceland kill whales for scientific research — which critics call a sham — and sell the carcasses. Norway ignores the moratorium and openly conducts commercial whaling.
Caribbean leaders said a return to whaling would help them maintain food security by protecting fisheries from whales.
"We're dealing with an ecosystem where whales are on top of the food chain," added Daven Joseph, an IWC delegate from the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Pro-whaling nations often argue that whales should be culled to protect fish stocks.
"That's like blaming woodpeckers for deforestation," said Vassili Papastavrou, a whale biologist for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "The real issue is overfishing, not whales."
Hery Coulibaly, an IWC delegate from the African country of Mali, said his vote for responsible whaling is consistent with positions his nation takes on sustainable hunting at the United Nations and other international organizations.
The resolution — drafted by St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Dominica and Antigua — was signed by 30 mostly developing countries. Norway, Iceland, Japan and the Russia have also signed it.
Environmental groups have accused developing nations of voting with Japan in return for money for fisheries projects — which Japan and those countries have repeatedly denied.
Caribbean tourism officials have said they are concerned that their countries' support of whaling might lead travelers to boycott the region.
"Such threats are tantamount to economic terrorism," said Joanne Massiah, Food Production and Marine Resources Minister for the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
The five-day meeting of the International Whaling Commission runs through Tuesday in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.
Whaling advocates could win key vote
19 June 2006
By HAYDON DEWES
Whaling advocates look set to win a crucial vote at the International Whaling Commission annual meeting, that would give Japan a huge boost in its fight to reinstate commercial whaling.
The meeting, in the Caribbean country of St Kitts and Nevis, has been marked by intense lobbying and suggestions of questionable practices, with African nations aligned with Japan paying membership fees at the 11th hour to allow them to vote, one with a brown paper bag filled with United States currency.
Japan has repeatedly been accused of exchanging aid funding for support from poorer countries.
It lost two votes yesterday - one over whether to allow its coastal communities to whale near shore, by only one vote, and one to have a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary wiped out .
It lost two earlier votes by slim margins – the first barring the IWC from discussing measures to protect small cetaceans, like porpoises and small whales – essentially a "tester" vote to see where nations lay – and the second a vote to introduce secret ballots, which would favour Japan.
From St Kitts and Nevis yesterday, Conservation Minister Chris Carter told The Dominion Post the crucial vote would be on Monday (Tuesday NZ time), when members would vote on the wording of the St Kitts declaration, a statement about what the meeting has achieved.
He was "not hugely confident" anti-whaling nations would win.
"Japan is drafting it already. It is all about calling for a resumption of commercial whaling. They are calling it the normalisation of the IWC, which is a return to its core business of catching whales."
He said Japan lost yesterday's vote primarily because allies Korea and China, which share the Eastern Sea with Japan, voted against it. Allowing Japanese coastal villages to whale would have eaten into their own whale stocks, especially the rare grey whale.
"If China and Korea go back to supporting Japan on the last day . . . we could end up with a declaration for the first time from the IWC for 20 years saying, `Commercial whaling is good, we should get back into it and by the way a majority of countries in the world think so'. That will be a very powerful victory for the Japanese."
Japan would still need the support of 75 per cent of the 70-nation body to spark a return to commercial whaling, but would gain huge political and strategic leverage by getting a simple majority.
"It will breathe even more determination to the Japanese efforts to stack the IWC with like-minded countries," Mr Carter said.
"There are a lot more poor countries out there who are going to be very susceptible to offers of aid to come here."
He said two African nations, Gambia and Togo, joined the voting process on Saturday by paying their back levies.
He said Togo came in with a brown paper bag full of US bills to ensure their credentials. He would not comment on where the money could have come from, but said it was "a source of great speculation here".
Mr Carter said while Japan was effective at "chipping away" at the majority at the IWC, anti-whaling nations needed to keep fending them off until the tide of public opinion changed Japan's position.
"In many ways the tide of history is against the whalers so if we can hold the line, if we can stop the Japanese with this remorseless chipping away of the majority here then eventually Japan's just going to decide this cost is too high diplomatically as well as within Japan itself."
Mr Carter said a WWF poll just released showed 66 per cent of Japanese were against whaling.
"It's a marathon, it's a long race but in the end public opinion in Japan, Iceland, Norway is against the whalers."
Also while Japan continued to get support from smaller countries the anti-whalers were also getting more numbers.
Israel was joining and Cyprus was looking at it. Also new European Union countries were a possibility.
Mr Carter said it was vital that efforts to resume whaling were fought as there were enough threats to whales without intentionally killing them.
"If that lid was lifted, together with global climate change and pollution, you could really have a risk of extinction."
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