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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



More pre IWC 59 meeting news

The media is now full of news on the IWC meeting, due to start just 6 or so hours from now.

One of the interesting issues will be Greenland and Japan's whaling quota proposals. The US bowhead quota is likely to be approved, if we are to go on reports in the media, but the Greenland hunt has been more controversial over the years, as they distribute their whale meat through those modern "supermarket" things. Japan, also being a modern nation, uses supermarkets as a distribution point for whale meat, but hasn't been able to have it's whaling classified as "aboriginal subsistence whaling" in the past, because of the commercial elements. So, it's been one rule for Greenland and one for Japan (there are commercial elements in the Alaska hunt as well, it seems), but the anti-whalers may choose to attack the Greenland quota this time, to take revenge on the Danes, who last year supported the St. Kitts and Nevis declaration, and made their sustainable use position very clear.

Reports suggest that Denmark will take a similar position this time around. Furthermore, while the Institute of Cetacean Research's planned inclusion of humpback whales in the JARPA II programme has made a lot of news, Greenland is also apparently going to request a small quota of humpbacks for their people as well. An interesting part of that story:
A group of North Atlantic MPs wrote recently to the Parliamentary Committee on Planning and Environment in the Danish Parliament that "we would rather catch the whales commercially, like we catch shrimps and halibut, than being reduced to cultural weirdos, who most gratefully are allowed to slaughter a couple of sacred cows...This would make our whaling a normal industry instead of an ethnic alm" they wrote.
Item 5.5 on the meeting agenda indicates that the appropriateness of the term "aboriginal" will come up for debate.

Meanwhile, Joji Morishita concisely summed up the argument for the recognition of Japan's coastal whaling:
"We expect the same treatment to be given to any proposal from Japan for a quota for our traditional coastal whaling communities, where the whales would be caught locally, processed locally, distributed locally and consumed locally"

"People need to ask themselves the question: does it matter whether a whale is hunted under the US's so-called Aboriginal Subsistence, or Iceland or Norway's commercial whaling or Japan's traditional coastal whaling?"

"Of course not. What is of the utmost importance is that the practice is sustainable. And it is"

-- Joji Morishita
Of course, how many of the IWC delegates see it that way is the big question for which we must await an answer.

More on this issue here.

Meanwhile, some in the New Zealand media are still not even on the same page:
Quotas that allow isolated tribes in Alaska and Greenland to hunt using traditional methods are up for renewal. New Zealand supports the quotas, however Japan has said it will veto them, unless the IWC allows wider coastal whaling.

-- New Zealand's Newstalk ZB/One News

Completely wrong information, as I noted a few days ago. Wake up guys - where are you getting your story?

From Australia, all sorts of stuff, but amongst it all is a call from Steven Freeland for compromise from the anti-whalers. Freeland gets some basic facts wrong (I'll not go into this), but despite that his basic push is in the right direction. Always good to see signs of common sense expressed in the Australian media.

Norway's delegate has had some typically frank words for the anti-whalers:

"Those of us who are in favour of very limited whaling are willing to reach a compromise and to give them probably the best (whaling) management scheme for any marine species at all, the most strictest one with the lowest quotas but this doesn't seem to be enough for them," Mr Klepsvik said.

"And accordingly, they seem to be happy by continuing to insist on zero quotas and insisting that the moratorium should be maintained."

Finally however, BBC correspondent Richard Black has an article on the situation covering the above aboriginal subsistence quota issues, but also commentary on the feeling at the meeting so far:
Preliminary exchanges here have been in a much more conciliatory spirit, with delegates on both sides talking of finding common ground.
Many environment groups are deeply unhappy about the message of compromise and conciliation, and about any notion that anti-whaling countries would settle for less than enforcing and enhancing the current global ban on all scientific and commercial whaling.
Black also has some details on the IWC's response to the Sea Shepherd organization's extremist tactics:

[Japan's delegation] will also seek a strong resolution against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which disrupted Japan's 2006-7 Antarctic hunt, holing one of the Japanese vessels.

In the first concrete sign of a new rapprochement, Japan is working on a joint resolution with New Zealand, one of the fiercest critics of Tokyo's scientific whaling.

Nothing particular new in that - Resolution 2006-2 from last year's meeting concerning the safety of whaling and whale research vessels was also co-sponsored by Japan, New Zealand, the US, and maybe the Dutch and one other nation, as I recall.

Still the news of a perhaps less confrontational meeting from a reporter there at the scene is welcome news. The only ones who benefit from a controversial IWC meeting are those seeking to profit from the kafuffle.


"There are lots of illegal whaling activities in these (accusing) countries on smaller whales but the picture depicted about us is totally wrong and everyone here should be honest and should stop what I would claim is hypocrisy," Mr Klepsvik said.

Yikes -- and this guy used to be press secretary at the Foreign Ministry. Why can't my countrymen learn to speak English properly?
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