.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Response to Iceland's 2008 whaling quota

It's been interesting to observe the response from a group of International Whaling Commission members to news of Iceland's 2008 commercial whaling quota.


In the year to August 2007, Iceland had issued permits for nine fin whales, and 30 minke whales (there was also an outstanding scientific permit for a small number of minkes as well).

The fin whale quota was granted to Hvalur, which had the hope of exporting fin whale products to the Japanese market. The issue of access to the Japanese market remains unresolved, with the most recent reports in the news media that I have seen noting that Norway and Iceland are "waiting for Japan's response" regarding the matter - this was in late 2007. Depending on the outcome of IWC 60, Japan may finally be able to announce a decision on this matter.

As for the quota for 30 minke whales, meat products from this activity were marketed in Iceland itself.

When the quota period came to an end in August 2007, there was a furore in the western media with Icelandic Fisheries Minister Einar Guofinnsson issuing no revised quota at the time. Reuters quoted him as saying:
"I will not issue a new quota until the market conditions for whale meat improve and permission to export whale products to Japan is secured ... There is no reason to continue commercial whaling if there is no demand for the product."
Many in the west appear to have taken these statements to mean that Iceland intended to withdraw from whaling on a permanent basis, perhaps under the impression that there is no demand for whale meat products - something we often hear from some groups in the commercial anti-whaling industry.

However unlike the media, these groups did (correctly) recognise that this was not a permanent end to whaling, although continued to reiterate their claims that market conditions were unlikely to improve. Also, the International Whaling Commission homepage still today includes a page on Iceland's commercial whaling, unmodified since the time of Iceland's original decision to resume it back in 2006...


With the northern winter over, in May 2008 officials from Iceland's fisheries ministry have recently acknowledged to western media that a new quota has been set for minke whales, with reports that the meat from last year's hunt completely sold out.

The commercial minke quota is up 10, from 30 to 40 this time, although still short of the hopes of Iceland's minke whalers who reportedly hoped to be permitted a catch closer to 100.

Through their new quota allocation, Iceland's fisheries ministry has essentially reaffirmed an official view that Iceland's population of 300,000 appear happy enough to snaffle down at least 40 minke whales (this year).

Said one fisheries ministry official to Bloomberg:
"Minke sashimi is a quite popular starter in Reykjavik restaurants"


Predictably, the same groups from the commercial anti-whaling industry that assert that there is no demand for whale meat were furious, quickly issuing statements suggesting Iceland's economic future is at risk because of the new quotas. Statistics, on the other hand, have shown that tourism to Iceland has continued to increase in recent years, despite Iceland's decision to resume first scientific, then commercial whaling since 2002.

Still, the junior party of Iceland's coalition government sees some risk associated with pursuing a policy of sustainable whaling. Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) party member and current foreign minister for Iceland, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir reportedly said of the latest quota decision:
"I believe this is sacrificing long term interests for short term gains"
Her recognition that there are (at least) short term gains to be had from sustainable whaling is noteworthy, but I've not been able to find more detail about her beliefs regarding Iceland's long term interests. Later when speaking with Condoleeza Rice, she reportedly asserted that the minke quota is sustainable, so I presume she thinks there is something to the idea of sustainable whaling being a threat to the rest of the Icelandic economy.

My prediction is that time will (continue to) show those concerns are largely misplaced.

Below is a round-up from representatives in countries where commercial anti-whaling groups are prominent.

United States of America:
“This is frustrating news. Iceland is pursuing a completely commercial enterprise driven by profit motive with no oversight by IWC members nor analysis by their scientific committee ... I urge Iceland to reconsider this decision and focus on the overarching principles of the Commission rather than the short-term interests of its whaling industry. At a time when we should be doing more to help protect whales, Iceland is going in the wrong direction”
-- U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
“The United States is deeply disappointed in Iceland’s decision ... The IWC has begun a process to reduce provocation and enhance negotiations within the organization. This new unilateral commercial quota will only serve to undercut progress and good faith negotiations for long-term solutions in the Commission.”
-- Bill Hogarth, U.S. IWC Commissioner

European Union
"While there's an exception to the International Whaling Commission's moratorium on the hunt for scientific or indigenous whaling, Iceland still needs to be demonstrate that it is killing these whales for genuine non-commercial purposes"
-- Barbara Helfferich, Commission Environment spokesperson

New Zealand
“New Zealand welcomed Iceland’s decision to halt whaling last year, and I am troubled that Iceland may be reversing its decision ... Iceland’s resumption of whaling would come at a time when the IWC is making a genuine effort to build trust, and would undermine the trust developed through recent diplomatic efforts.”
-- Steve Chadwick, NZ Conservation Minister

"The loopholes that exist - and this is a loophole, frankly, that Iceland have used - need to be closed ... we need to have firm and rigorous science when we discuss the issues of so-called scientific whaling, and we'll be arguing very strongly that the global moratorium can't be compromised any longer."
-- Peter Garrett, Australian Environment Minister

Closing thoughts

I was somewhat surprised by Mr. Hogarth's comments, albeit only in his capacity as U.S IWC Commissioner. Recall that Norway too continues to unilaterally issue commercial catch quotas, but on a much larger scale than Iceland. This year they set their quota at 1,052, but so far as I have seen Mr. Hogarth has not singled out Norway in the same way as he has with respect to Iceland. This kind of unbalanced and unfair criticism itself bodes poorly for the "good faith negotiations" that he claims will be undercut by Iceland's continuing to issue sustainable whaling permits.

The US's Gutierrez's declaration that Iceland is "going in the wrong direction" by issuing a coastal whaling quota for just 40 minke whales also seems to confirm my expectation (or lack of) with regards to progress towards a compromise at the IWC meeting in Santiago next month.

Finally, if the EU is so keen to speak for member nations on whaling issues their spokesperson will probably want to check those facts before saying irrelevant things in the media.

Labels: , ,



Beef, Pork & Whale Stockpiles

People have asked me whether Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries also produces statistics for other animal products, such as beef.

The whale meat statistics are included in the fisheries statistics, but beef and pork figures can be obtained from an Independent Administrative Institution, known as The Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC)

The graph below illustrates the relative size of the Beef, Pork and Whale stockpiles in Japan, based on statistics from ALIC, and the usual Ministry stats for Whale.

Feel free to send in your thoughts on how this might be interpreted.

* * *
Beef stats - Japanese Excel, Japanese HTML
Pork stats - Japanese Excel, Japanese HTML

There are some English stats available too, but the Japanese are slightly more up to date, and hence I've used those here.




Whale meat stockpile update - March 2008

MAFF's "Statistics on Distribution of Frozen Fishery Products" March release came out on the 9th (PDF, Excel).

As it turned out, it was again not such a busy month in March.

The Oriental Bluebird, carrying some amount of frozen whale meat returned to Tokyo on March 29, and last time I assumed this stock would be reflected in these March figures. It seems that this may not have been the case - possibly the stock will be accounted for in the figures in the April release next month, and another possibility is that the meat was stored in a facility by the end of March, but a facility not covered in the survey (some details on the survey specification here). Whale meat landed in Tokyo has generally been picked up in the survey in previous years, but from January 2008 the survey coverage is slightly lower.

The rest of the JARPA II fleet returned to Tokyo in the middle of April, having caught 551 minkes, so that obviously doesn't show up in the March figures below.

March 2008 outgoing stock: 491 tons

Again we had another slight increase on the previous month in March 2008, but only 71% of the value for the same month in 2007. In 2007, there was more stock in store to be shipped out though.

March 2008 incoming stock: 374 tons

My guess is that these 374 tons are not the meat from the Oriental Bluebird. Firstly this figure (which is for the all surveyed regions, not just Tokyo) is quite small. Secondly, as we'll see later, overall the Tokyo region stockpile actually went down for the month, not up, and no other leading regions saw significant increases.

As for the figure itself - lower than for the same month last year - just 18%. This is because the JARPA II fleet returned to port a month early for the 2006/2007 research cruise (see March 2007).

March 2008 end-of-month stockpile: 2,368 tons

Total stock was thus (unexpectedly) down again in March 2008, a 117 ton decrease from the previous month. This puts the stockpile at just 54% of the volume as of the same time last year, but again that's due to the early return of the JARPA fleet last year.

March 2008 top stockpile regions

The top seven stockpile regions, their stockpile levels and movement since the previous month are shown in the table below:

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size at
previous month end
Tokyo city wards390

Hakodate the only real mover there for March, with about a 50 ton drop. Unfortunately these figures when they are issued in their monthly form only detail the top seven locations, so this month especially it's hard to see where stock went in and out. 1,993 tons (84.1%) of the total stockpile figure are accounted for in these top seven regions.

Graph: Annual volumes

Still early days in 2008.

Graph: Monthly volumes

The total stockpile figure dropped to a new low in March.

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

This graph will be updated next month.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

This graph will be updated next month.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles

As alluded to above, the stockpile movements for March aren't particularly visible this month.

* * *

April 2008 figures will be out on June 10.



Ghana - Day 2

Thanks to a reasonable air-conditioning system in our hotel (Chez Lien) and the long journey from Tokyo to Accra the previous day we had a good night's sleep on our first night in Ghana.

One thing for foreigners in Ghana to take about is disease. Before we headed off from Tokyo we had to get a Yellow Fever vaccination (after which we could apply for our entry visas), and also we picked up some Malaria medicine to take as well. However while the Yellow Fever vaccination protects for about 10 years, the Malaria medicine at best serves to reduce the symptoms if you are unfortunate enough to be infected. And so, as a preventative measure, the use of mosquito repellents is recommended. At night we used a kind of mosquito repellent incense to burn up and keep the bugs away from us while we slept. I don't know how common it is in western nations, but basically the incense stick is made in a flat round swirl shape, and you stick it on top of a small metal stand and place it on the floor or something while it slowly burns up (by some miracle I managed to step right on top of the small metal stand in the morning darkness, so that's another thing to be careful about I suppose, but getting Malaria would be worse).

KG who was staying elsewhere came to meet us in the morning and brought us some bread to have for breakfast. Shortly after we left the hotel. Our plan for this second day of our trip was to head along the coast to a place called Elmina.

Elmina is probably around 200 kilometres west of Accra, so we first got a taxi ride to a Bus Station. When we arrived at the Station, which to me looked a bit like a large car park, the place was bustling with people. Some police officers at the entrance told us where we could find a bus heading to our destination. We made our way past a few tens of rows of parked vehicles until we apparently found what we were looking for. The previous day KG had advised us to get a good night's sleep as today's journey might be a little cramped and crowded. The reason is that the long distance buses in Ghana are basically mini buses or large vans with about three rows of passenger seats, hence fitting around 14 passengers in total (2 in the front beside the driver, 3 or 4 in every other row - the narrow aisle beside each row of seats is equipped with little fold out seats for people to sit on so it's completely packed in). Also, the buses don't have a schedule, they leave once the bus has got a full load of passengers.

We were lucky, and found a bus heading to Cape Coast and Elmina which already had about 10 people in it waiting, and after we three got on, only had to wait for one other passenger to show up before we could depart. My bus ticket is pictured up to the left. The fare was 60,000 cedis, but this was in the old currency denomination. In 2007 the central bank in Ghana introduced the new Ghana Cedi with 10,000 old cedis being equivalent to 1 new Ghana Cedi (also roughly equivalent to 1 USD at the time we were there). We got the seats of the very back row of the bus for us 3, and our luggage was loaded into the small boot at the back.

While we waited, various vendors selling food and water bags came up to the windows offering their wares to the passengers waiting inside. Rather than being sold in pet bottles, water there was sold in small plastic bags, which you kind of tear a whole in the corner of and drink from there.

A guy outside who seemed to be in charge of collecting bus fares from passengers at one stage was talking with Kana via KG as interpreter, and apparently at one point said "please marry me" to her. This is apparently something that men in Ghana say as part of a typical polite conversation, but I was unaware of that and so showed the guy the wedding ring on my finger. This got a good response and the smiling man and I shook hands with a bit of laughter all round.

Soon our final passenger arrived, and it seemed like we were set to go. However suddenly there was a commotion in the bus with the passengers infront of us yelling at the window at a guy outside. In fact it was the driver who had just jumped out of the driver's seat to go outside for some reason, and the passengers were voicing their discontent with the bus's departure being delayed. All was well though, and we soon hit the road, after slowly weaving out way out of the bus station car park, through all the other parked vehicles. Kana took the photo to the left from her seat at the back right of the vehicle during the trip. The guy in the white shirt was sleeping with his head against the seat in front (seems like a common way of resting while on the bus there, you can't really lean back I guess). Eventually after a while I realised that the guy in the orange cap up the front was another foreign traveller.

Outside, once we had left the bustling city that is Accra, the buildings we saw on the side of the road were more and more rudimentary (pictures later), and once we hit the "motorway" (surprisingly well furbished), there was pretty much only scrub on the side of the road with occasional collections of houses, etc. One thing that really stood out was the colour of the soil - it was almost Martian red as opposed to the brown soil in New Zealand (and the lack of soil in Tokyo). Along with being surrounded by dark skinned people, it was a curious thing to see just how different the very same Earth on which we all live together can appear when you find yourself on the other side of the planet.

As we sped along we'd also pass by the odd person, or group of persons, often carrying something on their head as they strolled on their own long journey beside the road. Another thing that had become apparent to me by this time was that the drivers in Ghana use the car horn as a accident prevention mechanism. The drivers don't leave it to chance, and as soon as they see a person off in the distance beside the road, they start hooting the horn to make sure that the person has no chance of not noticing the vehicle approaching them. The horn is also hooted quite rhythmically - a few quick bursts on initial sighting, and then a few more bursts on the horn as the vehicle is about to pass by.

After about 3 hours on the road, we were apparently nearing our destination and after KG did some of her communications magic with a guy up front it, the bus pulled over to the right side of the road and it was time to get out. Our luggage was unloaded, and the bus quickly sped off. The other foreign guy (from somewhere in Europe) who had been riding up the front also got out here, but he was heading to nearby Cape Coast, not Elmina, and took a cab off by himself. Our next night's accommodation, the Elmina Beach Resort was not far away apparently, but there were a few shops back behind us which we headed back towards first. One was a furniture repair shop, but beside that a small restaurant place with a kind of Ghana style convenience store behind it caught our eye as a lunch option.

The lady who was running the joint prepared us the meal you see above. Basically it's fried rice, some chicken, and some veges. Plus coca cola, as you can see. Good stuff.

We also had another customer trying to get some of our food for free.

The little kitten pictured to the left appeared on the scene as soon as our lunch did.

After lunch we continued back along the road, which was pretty devoid of other shops, but a large advertisement signboard on a corner with a road heading south towards the beach was apparently where we needed to take a turn, and around the corner we found ourselves at the Elmina Beach Resort.

The staff here were quite different from the people back in Accra - here you could tell that they had had training in hospitality and services etc. After checking in and leaving our luggage in our room, we took a cab further along the coast to the centre of Elmina.

Elmina Castle

Hundreds of years ago what is known today Ghana was home to European (firstly Portuguese, and later Dutch) trading outposts, and apparently the section of coast where we were has one of the highest concentrations of existing European forts in the world. Today the forts serve the area well as tourist attractions, however in the past they were also a focal point for the unfortunate reason of being at the centre of the human slave trade.

Above is a picture of Elmina Castle taken from the beach. If you want to read about it you can get a good summary at the Ghana Embassy homepage, Wikipedia, or here.

We joined a guided tour around the castle, getting taken through various slave dungeons, where hundreds of people were said to have been crammed in at a time for as long as 3 months, living in horrendous conditions. Each dungeon had only a small barred window letting in a tiny amount of daylight and fresh air, slaves were given food within the dungeon only and it was also within the dungeon cell - crowded with hundreds of people - that the slaves had to "go to the toilet". Women slaves were often the subject of rape. Eventually the slaves that survived the conditions would be marched through a "door of no return" to ships where they would be taken from their homeland to various parts of Europe and America.

Some of the tourists of African-descent that we took the tour with were evidently from places such as Europe and America themselves, and returning to the places where there ancestors were forcibly taken from hundreds of years ago.

Inside the dungeons it was pretty dark, but with the camera flash you can get a bit of an idea. The dungeons were (as they would be) down below the ground level, but there was also a corridor beneath the complex to which the dungeons were connected. Apparently the slaves (who survived the atrocious treatment in the dungeons) would walk through the corridor towards the so-called "Door of no return", leading out of the fort to where the boats would be waiting to take them away.

One of the more unfathomable features of Elmina Castle's design is that above the dungeons on the ground level, there is a church building in the centre of the complex. The European slave traders would no doubt have had much to repent about while singing their hymns in church, while below them hundreds of slaves were being held in such terrible conditions for months on end (not to mention the rape, etc). The two pictures above are of the church, the one on the right obviously taken from the floor above, where you can also see out into the Gulf of Guinea.

Here are some more shots from within the castle:

Finally, a plaque recently furnished upon on a wall within the complex reads:
In everlasting memory
Of the anguish of our ancestors
May those who died rest in peace
May those who return find their roots
May humanity never again perpetrate
such injustice against humanity
We the living vow to uphold this


On a brighter note, the township of Elmina today is a bustling small fishing town. From the top of Elmina Castle you can take in plenty of good views of the area.

Firstly here's a shot of the scene in the area outside the castle entrance.

Lots of young kids hanging around, and the odd person with wares on their heads. There were some oranges on sale here.

Looking to the south west along the beach, there ain't much happening there:

But now let's swing back over to the north side of the castle, and I'll give you a panorama of the Elmina township:

This is the bustling fishing town that I mentioned above - it's a really fantastic sight. The little inlet in the left and center photos is some indication of just how many (small) fishing boats there are there... Heaps. Most of them these days seem to be powered by outboard motor, and there were still some boats heading out to sea around 5 pm just before it was about to grow dark. When we took a walk along the road just across the bridge you see there in the left photo, I remember seeing a few fish, but whether they were out on display for sale I've now forgotten. I don't remember what species they were, but what I do remember is that they were around 50 or 60 centimetres in length, looked like tasty enough, but being placed outside in the heat with no ice or anything as such to maintain the freshness, I wasn't about to buy any.

When I came back to Japan I did some searching and found this page which details the challenges facing Elmina's fishing sector today (the whole Elmina Heritage site is good reading too, and a lot of what I experienced there during that one afternoon is written about in some form or another).

Also catching the eye is Fort Coenraadsburg (built by the Dutch a few hundreds years after the Portuguese first arrived) up on the hill.

Here's some better shots of the fishing boats from the digital camera:

Perhaps in relation to The Elmina Strategy 2015, there is also a bit of development going on here:

The final part of the tour of the Castle took us into the bedroom of the head honcho at the Castle if you will, but we didn't get any photos there. One memorable moment there was that the guide (who didn't seem to be all so enthusiatic, to be honest) asked me where I was from at one stage - and I heard him asking the same thing of some other foreign tourists. Finally as we were making our way downstairs out of the castle he came back to me and somewhat persistently told me a couple of times that he was working there as a volunteer. Finally he seemed to be getting frustrated and made it clear that he was looking for a tip (hark back to day one when I just arrived at the airport). I wasn't carrying any money, but as we did have to pay a fee to enter the castle I reckon he was getting paid anyways. I figured later that he asked me which country I was from to try to fathom whether I was a potential tip giver or not. Maybe in the end he decided he would ask for a tip anyways. Trying to scam foreigners for tips is something that Ghana would be better off without, but given Ghana's overall circumstances this is a tough problem (more about this below).

After leaving the castle we went down to the beach first.

There's a small fishing boat there on the left speeding back out to sea.

Along the beach a kid wearing some kind of traditional looking garb approached us and asked for something. For food apparently. KG told him we were hungry too.

"Harrassment of tourists" has been recognised as an obstacle of sorts to the development of Elmina's tourism (perhaps this could be said for Ghana in general), and I'm kind of reluctant to write too much about it as overall I'd recommend Ghana to anyone (well especially to young people) and don't want to give too much of a bad impression. But the harrassment is obviously not the reason you choose to go there, but in hindsight people travelling there would be better equipped if they knew to expect it before going. The persistent tip requesting (which only happened a few times) is a form of harrassment as well really.

But at least as far as we experienced it, the harrassment was only sometimes of a really annoying or imposing nature, and it's perhaps possible to say that it's the way of life there. Behind it the kids are good fun as evidenced below. This bunch were attracted after my lovely wife took a photo of a kid who was gathering sea shells. Then a whole bunch of the little posers gathered around, and asked to pose for another picture, did their performance, and then rushed over to the camera bearer to check the results.

How about those poses folks? I guess this is the trend in Ghana these days.

We eventually returned to where we had come from and walked across the bridge (the environment here seemed a little rough, but no problems) and strolled up to near the Fort Coenraadsburg. On the way up we passed some houses, and a lady was sitting outside mashing some kind of vegetable up for dinner, apparently. She noticed us looking on, and KG eventually called out to her to explain that the curious foreigners were just interested to see what she was making.
"Would you like to have some?", she asked with a big smile.
Here's a bit of a panorama from up at the top of the hill looking back south towards Elmina Castle.

This time it was me attracting the young ones. The lad pictured below came up to me, introduced himself and we got talking. He lived on the other side of the hill he told, and was going to school nearby. His English was pretty good too, and he managed my kiwi accent alright too. Finally he said to me with a smile something like, "so, have you got anything for me?"

As you can see I had nothing for him :) According to a strict definition of harrassment this would probably qualify but I wasn't too bothered any more by this stage.

That night we went further along the coast to the west to a different hotel to the one we were staying at to have dinner.

Great stuff. Another taxi ride saw us get back to our own hotel for another good night's sleep.

Labels: , ,



IWC 60 preview

The IWC's home page has been updated with various documents ahead of the IWC 60 annual meeting to be held in Santiago, Chile.

The big issue this year is whether the IWC has a future, or not.

The annotated agenda document for the plenary can be obtained here.

Comments received from Japan officials (page 6) suggest that they are hoping for a non-confrontational, co-operative meeting, and will refrain from putting forth proposals that will obviously be controversial. They have urged other IWC Contracting Governments to also take such an approach.

Under the agenda item regarding Japan's "Small-type whaling" (page 9), Japan notes that it is prepared not to request a vote or even put forth it's usual proposal regarding a small quota for small-type coastal whaling "providing that substantial or concrete progress on discussions concerning the future of the IWC is being made", in order to "allow more time for plenary discussions on the future of the IWC".

Nonetheless, Brazil has indicated (page 9) that it will put forth a schedule amendment proposal for the creation of a South Atlantic Sanctuary. Ironically, the annotations at the top of the "Sanctuaries" agenda item (page 8) include further comments from Japan urging other Contracting Governments to refrain from submitting proposals for Sanctuaries. Brazil may not have had Japan's comments available when they submitted their own, or they may have and chose to ignore them. Whether the proposal for the Sanctuary does get put to the meeting or not seems likely to be indicative of what happens at the meeting as a whole.

Additionally, under the "The IWC in the future" agenda item itself, Australia has advised that it would submit it's "Whale Conservation and Management: a Future for the IWC" paper for information. Australia introduced this document at the March intersessional meeting, noting that what underpinned it was "recognition of the need for IWC to move toward a contemporary international conservation and management function focused on the conservation of whale populations and embracing the non-consumptive use of whales" (page 12 of the meeting report).

Outside of the IWC, New Zealand has talked of teaming up with Australia for "one big hit" on Japan with respect to it's whaling activities.

With this context, Japan's comments from the IWC Future agenda item are worth quoting in full:
In commenting on the Draft Agenda, Japan noted that it believes that the Commission must devote as much time as possible to [The IWC in the Future] agenda item and that there is urgency to this matter. Noting the current conflicting opinions among Commission members that make it difficult to reach consensus decisions or to hold normal discussions, Japan stressed that unless this situation is changed soon, the collapse of IWC will be unavoidable. Japan considers that the process initiated by the Chair to resolve IWC's problems cannot continue indefinitely and wished, therefore, to remind other members of its statement made at IWC/59 last year concerning the real possibility that Japan would have to review the way it engages with the IWC at a fundamental level. It believes that a clear direction for the future of IWC should be determined and the procedures reformed by the end of the 61st Annual Meeting at the latest. Japan expressed the strong hope that other members will share its view and co-operate to advance the discussions concerning IWC's future.
If the indications and language from Brazil, Australia and New Zealand are anything to go by, it seems likely that Japan and other like-minded nations are to be disappointed at IWC 60, without having to wait until IWC 61 for the big let-down. While it may be that others in the anti-whaling camp are more inclined to take a responsible approach towards this international organization (or persuaded to do so by the Chair), it is doubtful whether the threat of the IWC becoming irrelevant as a whaling regulation organization is of such a serious concern to the anti-whaling nations. The political risks for these nations associated with any possible compromise on their symbolic anti-whaling stance appear likely to outweigh any genuine concerns that they may have about present and future whaling activities.

At the March intersessional meeting, an outside expert who participated talked of the notion of the "ripeness" of the issue for negotiation:
'Ripeness' has been defined by the existence of a mutually-hurting stalemate, i.e. a situation in which the hurt which parties are enduring is greater that the hurt of solving it. Settlement then becomes a matter of 'how' and not 'whether'. He further noted that while 'ripeness' is not a pre-requisite, the likelihood of success is higher if it is present.
Delegates from some of the contracting governments spoke to this later:

It was noted that for this to be the case there must be recognition that the current stalemate is mutually hurting. Some doubt was expressed as to whether this is in fact the case.
As per my suggestion above, I concur with this. The hard-core anti-whaling nations do not appear to be hurting significantly or perhaps even at all because of the current situation at the IWC. On the contrary, many seem to benefit from it. Australia is the best example, with it's national elections last year seeing whaling become a prominent campaign issue. The hurt that does seem present is that that would be coupled with any compromise at a time when their new Prime Minister Rudd has been talking very big talk about bringing about an end to whaling full-stop. It does not seem politically feasible that Australian policy makers could opt to agree to any kind of compromise instead of remaining on the course that they are.

Thus the outcome of IWC 60 seems to be a predictable failure - unless Chair Hogarth is able to wield the USA's considerable influence and put the organization on a different course.

What happens in the aftermath of this year's meeting seems as if it will be more interesting than what happens at it.

Labels: ,


June 2004   July 2004   August 2004   September 2004   October 2004   November 2004   December 2004   January 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   January 2010   February 2010   April 2010   May 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   February 2011   March 2011   May 2013   June 2013  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?