Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
IWC 62 has come and gone, and as I think most expected, the IWC was unable to come to any agreements on really controversial issues, although the Greenlanders successfully managed to get permission to strike 9 humpbacks a year for the next three.
IWC 62 documents are here
, now including several uploaded during the course of the meeting. The following are some of interest
- 62/28 Statement by H.E. Yasue Funayama, Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan, under Agenda item 3 (Japan)
- 62/30 Palau Commissioner Uherbelau's remarks
- 62/31 A proposal from the Chair on a way forward
- 62/32 Statement by the Republic of Korea
- 62/33 Statement by The Netherlands on Safety at Sea
- 62/OS GO Member Governments' Opening Statements
- 62/OS NGO NGOs Opening Statements
The Netherlands document regarding safety at sea bizarrely commences with the statement "the Netherlands remains resolute in its opposition to any type of whaling, except for aboriginal subsistence whaling
" (sic), a point that is irrelevant to issues of safety at sea, which the Netherlands itself regards as being a matter for the IMO.
The document goes on to note that the Netherlands respects the right of peaceful protest. (Don't we all.)
The Netherlands then reprimands not only Sea Shepherd but also the "Japanese whalers", despite it being obvious to anyone that Sea Shepherd is voyaging to the Antarctic for the express purpose of attacking the other vessels (with guns, lasers, glass bottles of acid, propeller foulers etc), under the flag of the Netherlands. None of this can seriously be described as "peaceful protest" by any thinking person. Furthermore, that Sea Shepherd itself frequently refuses to be called a protest organization seems to be lost on the Dutch. Or otherwise to "save face" the Dutch have simply opted to overlook this inconvenient inconsistency in their rhetoric.
Nonetheless, the Netherlands notes some excuses why they have failed to handle Sea Shepherd appropriately to date. The international community will likely be watching closely.
As for the meeting, Richard Black from the BBC has a piece here
with comments from the Japanese representative:
"Of course, if it was indeed the case that zero had to be the number for proper management of the whale stock - if it was in a critical situation - then of course Japan would agree that it had to be brought down to zero," said Ms Funuyama (sic).
"However, we do have evidence that the whale stock is sustainable if it is contained under a certain level of catch, and therefore we fail to understand why it has to be brought down to zero."
The answer given by Japan's opponents is that its fleet ought to leave the Southern Ocean not because the current level of hunting is unsustainable, but because the area has been declared a whale sanctuary.
Yet, it is the "southern ocean sanctuary", and the "moratorium" before it, which are the primary symptoms of the diseased IWC. If Japan's opponents are not arguing that the current level of hunting is unsustainable, then they have essentially conceded that the moratorium and sanctuary both lack the scientific basis that Article V of the ICRW requires they have.
The claim that Japan was to blame for failure in the talks - widely promulgated by environment groups - was dismissed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the former New Zealand Prime Minister who played a leading role in diplomacy here.
"I was in the middle of this, and I think that's absolutely false," he said.
"The luxury about NGO positions is they don't actually know what is going on.
"The truth of the matter is there was considerable flexibility shown on both sides - just not quite enough."
Sir Geoffrey's comments are indicative of the strategy employed by the anti-whaling nations within the whaling commission, which is something like as follows:
- The anti-whalers have the numbers to prevent the IWC from doing anything
- However the anti-whalers can not eliminate whaling entirely, because the USA for one needs whaling quotas for it's people in Alaska, and also because the whaling convention itself is not amenable to that goal (it's a whaling convention, after all)
- The anti-whalers recognise that they can best achieve their next best target of limiting whaling by never agreeing to anything with the whaling nations and their supporters ... but never going so far as to make the whaling nations and their supporters decide to quit the IWC and make arrangements by themselves. Japan is recognised to be amazingly patient and despite more than 2 decades of roughly the unsatisfactory status quo they have still not withdrawn from the whaling convention, so simply hanging an imaginary carrot out there in front of them is believed to be enough to keep them in the fold. Grudgingly permitting "indigenous subsistence whaling" (formerly "aboriginal subsistence whaling") is regarded by the anti-whalers as a "necessary evil" that must be conceded to prevent the IWC from becoming regarded as an entirely irrelevant whaling management body.
- Were the whaling nations and their supporters to ditch the IWC for an alternative arrangement that actually did what the IWC is supposed to, the anti-whalers would then simply complain about the whaling nations quitting the IWC and their domestic media would back their side of the story
Japan's government and much of it's media appear (at least on the surface) to be naive and oblivious to this reality, although many Japanese citizens understand the situation all too well.
Alternatively, perhaps the Japanese government recognises the situation, but simply hasn't been able to think of or execute a suitable counter strategy. Given the weakness of Japanese political leadership, this is very much a possibility.
The most promising opportunity that the Japanese and other whalers have is the arbitration that the whale-mad Australians have recently decided to initiate at the International Court of Justice - despite objections from legal experts in other nations such as New Zealand, but most notably the USA government.
The opportunity for Japan to have it's case assessed in a court presents a significant chance to deal a serious blow to the anti-whaling camp - presuming Australia continues to push the case to a conclusion (of which I remain very skeptical, given inter alia
US opposition to the move).
... but in the meantime, bon appetite
, fellow whale lovers!
Labels: IWC 62