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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



USA on Iceland's increased whaling quotas

I haven't been keeping up with posts regarding movements in Iceland as much as I would like, but suffice it to say that this year it's been decided that Iceland's whalers will be able to catch up to 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales.

Most of this is expected to be exported, to Japan.

But the USA is not happy about it.
U.S. Opposes Iceland's Decision To Establish Large Commercial Whaling Quota
Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 27, 2009

The United States strongly opposes the Government of Iceland’s announcement on February 18, 2009, of its decision to uphold the former Government’s issuance of a quota for 150 fin and 100 minke whales to be harvested in Icelandic waters. We are deeply concerned that stocks of fin and minke whales are not adequate to support this harvest. We also believe this action will undermine the ongoing “future of the International Whaling Commission” efforts, of which Iceland is a participant. We call upon the Government of Iceland to rescind this decision and to focus on the long-term conservation of whale stocks, rather than on the short-term interests of its whaling industry.
The title of the press release itself is quite objectionable. 150 in whales and 100 minke whales is hardly a "large commercial whaling quota". It certainly is a "commercial whaling quota", but there's nothing especially large about it. Indeed the minke quota probably would have been bigger had Iceland not exercised a high level of caution with respect to it's local minke whale stocks.

Putting it into perspective, Iceland's commercial fin whale and minke quotas are both not even 3 times the US's "aboriginal subsistence whaling quota" for bowhead whales (up to 67 a year). Indeed, Greenland's minke whale quota (termed "aboriginal subsistence", although the Greenlanders don't like this), which is the highest of all such quotas, is up to 200 minkes a year. Iceland is to take fewer fin whales and fewer minke whales than this.

Ultimately what matters is not vague, undefined terms such as "small" and "large", but what is sustainable. And sustainability is the basis for the advice upon which the former Iceland government issued the quota.

Next, the US says that it's concerned about the status of fin and minke whale stocks and their capacity to sustain these harvests - both smaller than the largest of "aboriginal subsistence whaling quotas", and set in accordance with advice on sustainability. So, it seems, the USA does not think much of the advice given by Iceland's scientists (or alternatively just doesn't like sustainable whaling?). However, even the IWC's estimate of abundance for fin whales in the North Atlantic is 30,000. Iceland's annual quota of 150 represents just 0.5% of this, which is a lower percentage than we see in the USA's quota of 67 bowheads out of 10,500. Just 0.5% is quite conservative, so even in the case of multiple stocks, it seems highly likely to be sustainable. The IWC's minke abundance estimate in the North Atlantic is larger again.

If the USA is genuinely concerned about the effect of Iceland's whaling on whale stocks, it would be in the USA's interests to cooperate with Iceland and others in the spirit of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, by working to establish safe catch limits for whale stocks where applicable. Indeed, the IWC's Scientific Committee is in the process of developing an RMP Implementation for fin whales and reviewing the existing implementation for minke whales in the North Atlantic (both due for completion this year prior to the IWC meeting), which could be the basis for this. That the USA instead would intimate that it is Iceland that is undermining the "future of the IWC" efforts illustrates that the USA isn't interested an "future IWC" that conducts it's business in accordance with it's mandate.

The USA should be reviewing it own out-dated policies before criticising others. Time for "Change"?

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Off topic post , but it is about the cruelty issue in the US and double standards.

In the US the race horses are under extreme cruelty , steroids are used as well as diuretics , and other meds. What's amazing this is NOT DOPING.

In other countries it is complained that whips are used TOO much but in the US , they complain that horse whips are used TOO Little! It's outrageous.

( BTW, I'm a former race horse trainer).FYI, in Norway all horse whips are banned in horse racing!!!!

Re Icelandic whaling , there will be a longer article on my blog this week.
Meanwhile on Ann's block a small child is being beaten and abused...
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