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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



New Zealand foreign minister on latest IWC proposal

The IWC circus rolls on - at least for the time being. This isn't the first time one has got the sense that things are looking sad for this organization, however.

Yesterday the latest IWC compromise proposal draft was released (get it here).

New Zealand's government had been showing an uncharacteristically flexible mindset towards the talks, with its IWC commissioner Sir Geoff Palmer backing a compromise deal over the alternative - he seems to think the IWC will be in serious trouble if a compromise isn't reached. Whale Armageddon, or something like that.

Murray McCully has today however totally shot down the latest plan with some quite scathing remarks.

He says:
"If we could see a substantial reduction in the number of whales taken within the [Southern Ocean] region I was anxious for us to be able to at least talk about it"
I had to listen to this part twice because it was hard to believe what I had heard the first time. The draft proposal would see Japan's Antarctic minke whale catch quota reduced from a maximum of 935 each season down to a maximum of 400 each season for the next 5 and then further still to 200 for the 5 seasons after that. E.g. a more than 50% reduction from current levels for the first 5 seasons and an almost 80% reduction for the second 5 seasons.

If 50% - 80% is not a "substantial reduction" then I don't know what is. He called these numbers "unrealistic", yet if the numbers were even more substantially lower than this they would be so low as to preclude the effort of actually catching any whales at all.

I have to wonder if McCully himself actually believes what he is saying and hasn't simply come to the realization that his government has to give in to the realities of domestic politics in New Zealand. There are no votes to be won for the New Zealand political parties at the IWC by agreeing to any compromise that might see the organization come anywhere near fulfilling the purpose mandated to it by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. If the IWC does go "splat" as Sir Geoff Palmer seems to fear, New Zealand politicians can always just say that it's all someone else's fault - undoubtedly Japan's. (Not that I expect any Whale Armageddon to come of such an event, anyway, the whaling nations are hardly engaging in mass slaughter currently compared with historical standards)

McCully concluded:
"I expected significantly better from the IWC leadership than we have got today".

Yet it might be helpful if McCully would clarify in more concrete terms what he had been expecting beyond an 80% reduction in quota that could also be mutually acceptable to the Japanese?

He was also upset about the average fin whale quota of 6.5 whales per season over the 10 years, calling it "offensive".

This whole IWC Future process appears to have been a massive waste of time - who'd have ever thought it!?

* * *

UPDATE: Japanese MAFF Minister Akamatsu says that the quota of 200 minke whales "is equivalent to nothing", indicating that Japan can't accept those numbers either - for different reasons to McCully of course. They leave the door open for negotiations around the 400 mark, however. That from Jiji.

UPDATE (4/24): The USA response to the proposal is here, nothing of great interest though, mostly rabbiting on about the "moratorium" which just happens to be at the center of the problem.

* * *

By continuing to negotiate with these anti-whaling nations, Japan's negotiators are just giving the politicians from these nations something to feed on: a crisis to resolve, and one that is resolved easily. "A new push for lifting the moratorium", read the headlines. Ultimately they reject the lifting of the moratorium, and gain headlines in their newspapers. Congratulations, well done.

So long as whaling remains an issue over which these anti-whaling nations have an influence, it will never ever be resolved.


Hi David,

Indeed, how "surprising" from New Zealand to suddenly adopt a critical view towards a compromise deal!

There's no chance the proposal put forward by Maquieira can be adopted at the meeting in Agadir...
In other words, the initiative begun by Hogarth is failure and the IWC is dead thanks to the "anti-whaling countries" unability to accept a compromise after taking part in discussions.

They don't even have any valid argument as to why it's too many whales to be killed.

As Joji Morishita said once, the IWC will probably need a cooling off period, with no annual meeting for a few years. Hopefully, Japan can work a substitute to the defunct commission in the while.
Yet another example of anti-whaling nations who aren't interested in compromise trying to tar Japan as being unreasonable.

If I was Akamatsu, I'd leak plans for a true 20k ton factory ship* and some statement papers about a prospective JARPA III in 2013** including a quota of 1200 Minkes and 100 Humpbacks in Antarctica.

Then they'd have a reason to whine on about "offensive".

*not like the current puny 8k ton Nisshin that was built for fishing

**when JARPA II will be reviewed within Japan.
"Japan can work a subsitute to the defunct commission in the while."

Go ahead. Japan is already poaching. They just use the science excuse to try to cover for their poaching. Go ahead Japan, go pirate whaling. The more illegal you act the more tools you will open up for the anti-poachers to use to put your ships on the bottom.
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