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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: Whalers to sue the IWC?

Some days back an Australian legal expert, University of Western Sydney Associate Professor Steven Freeland said that the anti-whaling faction at the IWC should compromise:
"The alternative is that the anti-whalers will continue to decline any request for whaling for any reason, and the pro-whalers will take advantage of those loopholes that exist under the whaling convention and go ahead and whale anyway"
Another legal expert, Dr Eric Wilson of Monash Law School, has an article on how he sees the situation in terms of law in The Age.
This is why the recent symbolic win of Japan is potentially of great significance; by indicating the purely temporary nature of the moratorium, the (slight) majority of IWC members have reaffirmed their understanding of the convention as a conservationist document, not a preservationist one. If so, then the pro-whalers have the stronger legal position.

If incontrovertible proof of sustainable numbers of whale species can be provided, then the continuation of the moratorium - at least as it is applied to the numerically "safe" species - is clearly illegal, and the anti-whaling nations are in breach of their fundamental treaty obligations. In this event, the pro-whalers will be in an unambiguously lawful position to either resume commercial hunting unilaterally, or, more likely, to secede from the IWC altogether and establish their own whaling treaty system.

Interesting comments. Essentially, the scientific argument that sustainable whaling is possible was already won, more than a decade ago. The Scientific Committee unanimously recommended the Revised Management Procedure, and the IWC itself also adopted it. What more evidence is required?

Dr Wilson states that the whalers could either hunt unilaterally or start a new whaling organization.

This reminds us of another, perhaps more likely, possibility.

Masayuki Komatsu, in his book "The Truth Behind the Whaling Dispute" talks about the chance that one day Japan may sue the IWC:
"The fact that the IWC has been acting in violation of its own Convention is obvious to anyone with legal knowledge. We have a sufficient number of objective and legal evidence to support our claim."

"Surely some day Japan may bring the case against the IWC to an international court. I am looking forward to that day."
We have seen that the US looks set to agree to some form of commercial whaling. If the remainder of the anti-whaling nations refuse to follow this responsible and constructive lead, perhaps we can expect to see such a case within the next few years.

It is known that the Government of Japan is wanting to see progress made, after 14 years of procrastination and filibustering from the anti-whaling side on the development of an RMS. It is unlikely that the whaling nations will be able to encourage enough of their friends to join the IWC and support them to obtain the 75% majority to overturn the unnecessary moratorium. Perhaps court action is the next most likely means of resolving the issue, after the more likely situation of the less fanatical anti-whaling nations deciding to compromise at the IWC for the benefit of whale conservation.

It's remarkable to find a New Zealander passionately taking the pro-whaling side of this argument!

Though it's far from topping my priorities, I do pick up my rhetorical harpoon at least once a year. Every time, I am baffled by the ignorance and emotional fervor of the anti-whaling international majority, extending to any number of otherwise reasonable people. In the last two weeks I've been called "beneath contempt" and more names than I care to repeat, merely for pointing out that there are two (or more) sides to this. It's baffling how many are convinced that every whale species on earth is on the verge of going dodo and that every individual of every such is a holy hybrid of Albert Einstein and the Princess Diana, eating which is at best on a par with cannibalism.

And isn't it incredible what myths and lies the Anglophone press is able to comprise in a few lines? I just read in the new edition of Time Magazine that Norway "openly flouts IWC rules." WTF? Not to mention all the nonsense about Japan, often bordering on racism.

It feels hopeless to stem the tide of myth and disinformation. But thanks for trying -- hang in there!
Hello! Thanks for commenting :-)

I too just got a new comment telling me that I "disgust" the poster, that I am not welcome in New Zealand, and that I am a Japanese puppet.

If anything, this sort of nonsense just encourages me to let even more people know the folly of the New Zealand position on this issue.

It's just embarassing, for New Zealand's position to be so devoted, yet so driven by ignorance of the facts. The government's position is purely to appease anti-whaling sentiment amongst the general public. So this needs to change, but how could my people have been deceived in this way? And if we can be deceived so easily what if this issue was one of greater importance?

That's kind of scary. I thank goodness that this is a minor issue, or otherwise who knows what might happen.

I do see progress though. There was a time when I'd be the only one in a particular Internet forum saying "um, hang on you guys...", but today a greater number of people seem to have an appreciation for the concept of sustainable use and whaling, in a range of forums that I participate in.

I look forward to the day when the majority of people in New Zealand can sit back in their sofas, and have a chuckle to themselves: "boy, didn't we get ourselves all so excited about that whaling thing... ah well, I guess everyone is just human..."

The whalers suing the IWC at the ICJ (and winning) would be a huge boost to reaching this end, even if just in moral terms not pratical ones. I guess it's something that the whalers will continue to consider, but it seems like they have decided to try to gain a simple majority at the IWC first. I think the policy has a lot of merit, because the majority of nations that do oppose whaling are the developed western nations. The whaling side can get support from developing nations, which are by far in the majority, globally. There's simply not that many more nations for the anti-whaling camp to recruit.
Have you seen this? Good for a chuckle, though the whalers aren't exactly helping to solve their image problem...

By the way, do get in touch if you should ever need translation from Norwegian, or Swedish/Danish for that matter. My e-mail is found at my blog.

I have the story also from Norwegian paper Dagbladet:


Please read the comments and translate some of them to David, but he may delete some Norwegian comments like the one posted 4.7.06 13.55

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