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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



Whaling - Remi Parmentier

Blogger's photo uploads are broken right now so I'm holding off on adding my Summer Holiday - Day 4 post. Instead, a short (broken-record) whaling post on a comment I noticed at the BBC...

Remi Parmentier of the Varda Group, here as a special advisor to the Pew Trusts, found a real irony in Japan's current position.

"Japan is complaining about the way things have gone in the era since 1972 when the moratorium was first proposed.

"But if we conservationists had not been there at the time, successfully pushing whale conservation and the moratorium, today there would not be any scope for discussion of a resumption of commercial whaling because in all likelihood there would only be remnant populations of whales left."

As I have noted previously, the IWC had:

1) Placed depleted whale stocks including the Gray whale, the Right whale, the Blue whale, and the Humpback whale under protection before 1972 when a moratorium was first proposed (and before Greenpeace first appeared in 1971), and

2) Scientists such as the FAO's John Gulland noted at the time the moratorium was imposed that whaling catches by that time were "by and large, within the productive capacity of the stock" and were believed to be "sustainable indefinitely".

It is very difficult to reconcile Mr. Parmentier's assertion as reported by the BBC with these points.

Additionally, it's again worth remembering what "conservation" means. One definition from www.dictionary.com is:
the careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion.
Given that Parmentier promoted the moratorium (despite there never being any advice from the IWC Scientific Committee that the measure was necessary), and that conservation implies the utilization of resources (as opposed to no utilization) one wonders by what definition of "conservation" Parmentier sees himself as a conservationist.

The pendulum is swinging however. We've seen the extreme of over-hunting until the 1970's, followed by the opposite extreme of over-protection since the 1980's. Today the balance is shifting back to the more moderate center, where more and more nations now agree that limited conservative whaling is possible for abundant stocks, while still depleted stocks should remain protected.

Reminding the western media of the true meaning of conservation is likely an important key in achieving a rational debate about this issue.

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