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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



IWC 2006: Kiribati maintains sustainable-use stance

Well done Kiribati:

Kiribati Fisheries Minister Tetabo Nakara confirmed Senator Campbell's reading of his country's position.

"We support scientific whaling to continue," Mr Nakara said.

"We have a neutral position on the moratorium on the commercial whaling."

Mr Nakara denied Kiribati was receiving financial aid from Japan in return for its vote.

"Kiribati paid its contribution to the IWC and we will continue to pay the fares of our participation," he said.

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IWC 2006: IWC Scientific Committee meetings underway

IWC 2006 has begun, with almost 200 scientists meeting in the Caribbean, prior to the IWC meeting itself later next month.

Alas, we can expect to see some publicity stunts shortly. Last year 63 scientists, all just happening to be delegated from either hardcore anti-whaling nations or associated with anti-whaling NGOs, refused to review the JARPA II research proposal, in defiance of the IWC's rules.

At their current meeting, the SC is scheduled to review the original JARPA programme. While the programme was evaluated highly at it's halfway point in 1997, recent events such as last year's stunt indicate that politics has infiltrated proceedings at the SC meetings, so the review is likely to note heavy criticism from scientists of New Zealand, Australia, the UK, other anti-whaling European nations, and scientists associated with anti-whaling NGO groups such as IFAW.

Additionally, the SC is due to provide a new current estimate for the Southern ocean minke population, and perhaps complete an estimate for some of the Southern ocean humpback populations. These discussion on the minke estimate is likely to be laboured, however.

The estimate for 1990 was 760,000, while recent data from sightings surveys has indicated current numbers are maybe only half of that. The JARPA programme has only removed several thousand; biologically such a huge decrease is hard to explain, and I've read that JARPA data also does not indicate signficant changes in biological parameters of the minke population to support such an argument. It will be interesting to see what the new estimate does turn out to be, but more so, what the reasons the IWC SC sees for the likely large difference between the new and 1990 estimate.

All this information is supposed to be kept secret until the start of the full IWC meeting, I believe, but the anti-whaling NGOs will likely leak some information beforehand, selectively quoting IWC SC scientists who support their views. As with every year, it will be prudent to wait for the actual report of the SC, rather than leaks from groups with agendas to sympathetic western media outlets.



IWC 2006: Dr Ray Gambell OBE on the IWC

Tony Best is a Caribbean based journalist who has been reporting on the whaling issue for years. He has an interview with Dr Ray Gambell OBE in Barbados' Nation Newspaper:

The Best Report – IWC decisions taken over by politics

The INTERNATIONAL Whaling Commission, the body set up more than 50 years ago to manage the world's whale stocks, has lost its way and isn't carrying out its key role.

And so, Ray Gambell who headed the IWC's secretariat for at least two decades has concluded that the global organisation which is due to meet in St Kitts-Nevis next month has become largely dysfunctional.

"That is true to the extent that it was established in 1946 to regulate commercial whaling and it is not doing that," he said in an interview from his home in England. "It is not carrying out its primary function."

Gambell, a British marine scientist who stepped down as IWC secretary about five years ago, said that unfortunately politics rather than science has hobbled the commission, preventing many of its members from harvesting some whale stocks which were in abundance, according to the findings of the commission's own Scientific Committee.

"The original people and nations were trying to regulate a high-seas fishery but in more recent times the attitude in the world has been not too much to the utilisation of a natural resource, but the preservation of it," he complained. "So, they are using a piece of fisheries legislation to prohibit capture of stocks of whales, some of which are capable of being utilised on a sustainable basis."

Gambell – who, like commissioners from Caribbean member-states Antigua, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent, supports sustainable utilisation of the world's marine resources – was awarded a British national honour, membership in the Order of the British Empire, OBE, by Queen Elizabeth for his work with the Commission.

He charged that some nations backed by strong NGOs had wrongfully changed the use of the fisheries legislation "from regulating and catching to prohibition of catching".

It's an approach he opposed on scientific grounds.

Little wonder, then, that Gambell said he was enjoying his retirement while not missing the IWC.

"I am having a very nice time in retirement and I don't miss the International Whaling Commission at all," he said. "It was very hard work and, particularly towards the end, there was very little movement or very little action in what the Commission was doing in the last few years, which was very frustrating."

Interestingly, when the IWC held its first meeting in the Caribbean, Gambell was head of the Secretariat; now that it is returning to the region, he would follow its proceedings from afar.

If Gambell has a major regret, it is the drift away from science-based decisions to actions which are prompted by politics, particularly when it comes to preventing any stocks from being utilised as food.

"As I understand the current estimates of certain stocks, the numbers and their capacities to sustain catches, it is true that there are stocks which could support a regulated catch at a level which could ensure that there is no depletion of the stock," he said. "I think there is a great deal of politics involved. A country which has a powerful economic position is able to use that strength to encourage other people to think the same way."

The IWC's annual plenary meeting is to be held June 15 to 20 in Basseterre, St Kitts.



IWC 2006: Another extremist NGO

Australians for Animals International, led by Sue Arnold (pictured), is another group not too disimilar to Sea Shepherd except that they don't go as far as terrorist acts. Their approach is a more gentle one - searching for legal avenues by which whaling can be shut down. And it makes sense, given that Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd failed to save any whales in the Southern Ocean this year, but they did succeed in burning up gallons and gallons of fuel in doing so. As for Australians for Animals Int., their homepage mentions the "Japanese Imperial Army" and uses the "whale holocaust" phrase. So you get the idea.

The one thing I do like about these groups is that they attack the irrational Australian and New Zealand governments. These groups may be crazy and dangerous, but at least they consistent in their working to a principle - animal rights.

Carter defends signing agreement

Conservation Minister Chris Carter is defending New Zealand's signing of a WTO agreement which allows for trading of whale products.

The group Australians for Animals, says WTO tariff schedules, which both Australia and New Zealand have signed, allow the import and export of whale products, despite the global ban on commercial whaling.

Sue Arnold, from the Australians for Animals group, says both countires have allowed the WTO schedules to override environmental treaties they have signed up to. She says ministers are not telling people Australia and New Zealand are "held hostage" by the WTO.

"When we sit down and weigh up which is more important - trade or whales - trade is going to win," she says.

But, Carter says that despite the WTO agreement, trading in whale products in New Zealand is banned under two pieces of legislation. He says it is useful having those products on a schedule so Customs can require they be declared therefore protecting and conserving whales.

Carter says he is a little surprised New Zealand has been criticised for doing something which is protecting whales.

Amusing to see the anti-whaling parties bickering amongst themselves for media attention - who is the greenest!?




IWC 2006: Sea Shepherd extremism (4)

Y/H-san brought my attention to a further illustration of just what a disgraceful, unpleasant, extremist organization Sea Shepherd really is.

Has the world ever seen propaganda like this?
Japan to Murder 260 Whales in the North Pacific this Summer
(1) Misuse of the word "murder": "the unlawful killing of one human by another". Whales are not humans. One may subscribe to an animal rights philosophy that tries to equate the two, but trying to redefine the English language to help meet that aim is silly, as well as futile - just ask the non-English speakers of the world about it.
The outlaw whalers of Japan are ignoring world opinion and have announced they will target 260 whales in the North Pacific this summer.
(2) Misuse of the word "outlaw": "A habitual criminal". Legal opinion in both the most ferocious of anti-whaling nations, New Zealand and Australia acknowledges that there is nothing at all illegal about Japan's research programmes. Sea Shepherd needs to move on and accept reality.

(3) Dishonest assertion that "world opinion" is against whaling. "World opinion" consists of anti-whaling sentiment in a small number of otherwise apathetic, largely anglo-saxon nations. In larger international forums than the IWC such as CITES, a majority of nations have been seen to vote along the same lines as the pro-conservation / sustainable-use nations. Suggesting that "world opinion" is against whaling is equivalent to suggesting that the voices of a select group of westernized nations are the only ones that matter.
“This level of imperialist exploitation has not been seen since the Japanese army swept in and slaughtered the Chinese people and invaded their lands,” said Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Captain Paul Watson.
(4) Misuse of the word "imperialist": "The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations." Japan's actions are completely in line with the International Convention for the Regulation of whaling, and quite legal as is now universally recognised, and noted above.

(5) Overt racism. The events of World War II have nothing to do with modern day whaling. Trying to make such an association between an army and a cetacean research programme is ridiculous.

(6) Disgraceful and insulting comparison. Recently a New Zealand student magazine published an article which put "Chinese", along with animals like poisonous snakes and penguins, in a list of "Top five species we should be wary of". The supposed "joke" upset the Chinese community and caused huge protests from both Chinese students and the Chinese Embassy. The likening of a research programme that involves small numbers of whales being killed to events during World War II is likely to be even more offensive to the Chinese who suffered during the time. Exploitation of marine resources is an activity that virtually all nations with a coastline undertake, and certainly the Chinese themself are no exception to this.
Although the Japanese claim research as their motivation, the only research they are undertaking is product development and marketing of whale meat.
(7) Outright lies. Anyone who cares to look can find and learn about the objectives of the JARPA and JARPN research programmes. Rather than spreading misinformation about the objectives of these programmes, Sea Shepherd should simply state their disagreement to the aims of these programmes and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Sea Shepherd is concentrating on securing a fast ship to oppose the plan by Japan to kill over one thousand whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in December 2006.
(8) Even more outright lies. There is no plan to kill over one thousand whales in the Antarctic in December this year (or indeed the entire austral summer), the numbers are 850 minke whales plus +/- 10%, and 10 fin whales.

And if all this was not enough, in another press release Sea Shepherd refered to Tuvalu as a "rinky-dink" "nation of whores".

The ICR also has a document on the history of Sea Shepherd violence and lawlessness.




IWC 2006: Sea Shepherd extremism (3)

Displaying a total lack of grace, Herbert Henrich has responded to Nan Rice:

Illegal whaling is an issue all should work against

It is futile to argue with people like Nan Rice.

Look at the facts: Japan kills in excess of 1 000 whales a year in protected waters, and has now dropped the lame excuse of doing "research". This is a commercially driven attack on an endangered species in a sanctuary. It is not consistent with the International Whaling Commission's moratorium on whaling.

It is illegal to have a whaling factory ship in a sanctuary. Japan is in violation of the UN Resolution A/Res.37/7 and Sea Shepherd upholds the UN World Charter for Nature by stopping this butchery for profit.

The world at large, Rice included, will happily set aside their responsibilities to confront an economic giant by hiding behind fabricated excuses, and pretend to be concerned - but not concerned enough to try to stop the rot.

Horst Kleinschmidt, with his impeccable track record, has long realised this. The reason he did not join Nan Rice but Sea Shepherd instead is that Rice has still to save a single whale.

The detention order on the Farley Mowat has yet to be withdrawn. Maybe Rice's impeccable sources failed to disclose this to her.

However, we will comply with Samsa's requirements and take the ship out of port once our negotiations with neighbouring countries concerning patrol duties have been finalised, which we expect within this month.

If only all people of goodwill would work towards safeguarding our natural resources and protecting our fellow creatures rather than posturing and crying foul.

Dr Herbert Henrich
Sea Shepherd Conservation Trust South Africa

Isn't it pathetic, such pitiful souls in the lolly scramble for donations?




IWC 2006: Sea Shepherd extremism (2)

Unfortunately it appears that my letter was overlooked for publishing, but it's all fair enough considering what did get published - a letter from an anti-whaling organization in South Africa that criticises Sea Shepherd quite heavily. The author makes some noteworthy admissions, and well as criticism of Sea Shepherd:
Sea Shepherd has told lies about its whaling activities

May 22, 2006

Over the past months supporters of the Canadian-based organisation Sea Shepherd, now with a presence in South Africa, have criticised government departments and the media, and have fed people with misinformation.

The latest false statement was made by their newly-appointed South African director, Horst Kleinschmidt, who said in the Cape Argus of May 12: "At the moment there's nobody else making this (anti-whaling) their business" (in South Africa).

One wonders what my organisation has been doing for the past 28 years. In reply to Dr Herbert Henrich ("Give Sea Shepherd due", Brief Points, May 17), I regret to inform him that Sea Shepherd is considered internationally to be radical and violent.

It was for this reason that it lost its status as an observer at the International Whaling Commission in 1986.

In 1994 all the commission's member countries condemned Sea Shepherd's acts of "terrorism".

No whale conservation society approves of Japan's lethal research programme in Antarctica and the North East Pacific. However, it is essential that the facts be given.

Sea Shepherd has claimed it went to Antarctica to stop Japan's "illegal" research whaling.

What Japan is doing is not inconsistent with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and Japan has a special permit to carry out research.

In relation to Sea Shepherd's vessel, Farley Mowat, Henrich and others insist that the vessel is detained in Cape Town harbour at the bidding of nations who rape our seas.

We have it on good authority that the vessel can sail at any time provided it conforms with South Africa's safety regulations. Why then is it still there?

Nan Rice
Save the Whales Campaign Fish Hoek
Well, that sure is a breath of fresh air. A anti-whaling group that displays at least some semblance of honesty!

Nan Rice hasn't always been so critical of Kleinschmidt - she expressed disappointment last year when he resigned suddenly from his position last year, before taking up his role with the Sea Shepherd terrorist organization.




IWC 2006: Sea Shepherd extremism

Poor old Sea Shepherd.

Give Sea Shepherd due

Why is it that any article on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ("Surprise recruit for whaling watchdog", May 12) has to carry the worn-out words "violent" and "radical"?

Is it not about time the media informed people of other, more relevant, aspects of Sea Shepherd?

It would be marvellous if, for once, we had some support in trying the stop the illegal killing of whales.

Does nobody realise that Japan's ulterior intention is to have an absolutely free hand on the oceans of this world - to deplete them until no whale, dolphin or tuna is left?

Is it not about time the lone fight of Sea Shepherd receives some recognition and support, in particular from countries that claim to understand the necessity of protecting our oceans and all its creatures?

Do we deserve to have our ships kept in South Africa's detention at the bidding of nations who rape our seas?

Dr Herbert Henrich
Sea Shepherd Conservation Trust South Africa

Oh dear....

I have just sent the following letter off in response:

Herbert Henrich seems upset that his organization is described as "violent" and "radical" (Brief points - May 17, 2006)

What does he suggest would be a more appropriate description of Sea Shepherd actions, including attempts to inflict damage on other vessels at sea through use a "can opener" device attached to the hull of the Sea Shepherd ship the Farley Mowat?

He bemoans that his group finds little support in opposing the "illegal killing of whales". Perhaps he should consider that this may be because even law experts of vociferous anti-whaling nations such as New Zealand and Australia now recognise that Japan's whaling is perfectly legal.

He also claims that Japan's motives are to completely exhaust marine resources, despite Japan's clearly enunciated position of support for the principle of sustainable use. Furthermore, common sense tells us that depleting marine resources is totally contrary to the interests of such a nation with a long cultural heritage of reliance on the sea for food.

Indeed, "violent" and "radical" are quite apt descriptions for the group he represents, but "extremist eco-terrorists" would be even more appropriate.

Hopefully they will publish it. This guy seems to be completely off his rocker. The suggestion that Japan has "ulterior intentions" to deplete the world's marine resources is about as ridiculous as you could get. No wonder no one takes them seriously.




Paul and Heather to split

Paul and Heather McCartney have apparently thrown in the towel, stating they had "found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives".

Well, they did abuse their position as celebrities, running around appearing on TV shows together, criticising sustainable seal hunting and so forth.

They are pictured together here with a whitecoat seal. These whitecoat seals sure are cute, but it's been illegal to hunt them since 1997. But who cares about such technicalites? These cuties do make for great "save the seal" campaigns by groups such as IFAW, PETA, HSUS and so on, and that's what matters. Right Paul? Right Heather?

The IWMC also highlighted a Heather TV performance, where she put her boots on display. "These boots, they look like leather that I've got on and they're not... They're just plastic." The IWMC reminds us that plastics are manufactured from non-renewable petro-chemical products.

Saving animals is one thing, conserving the planet for future generations, it seems, is another.



IWC 2006: Norway admonishes its critics

Around a month ago, a very small number of nations participated in a demarche, criticising Norway's whaling quota (after the season started, rather than beforehand).

I highlighted the careless flimsy nature of the criticism, noting that Norway is setting quotas in line with the RMP, and Norway of course quickly hit back in the media.

Norway has now formalised their rebuttal, summoning diplomats from the nations:
Diplomats Reprimanded Over Whaling Protest
11:32 AM, 17 May 2006

Norway's foreign ministry has summoned diplomats from 12 countries, including New Zealand, to protest against what it called "unfounded attacks" on Norway's whaling practice.

In April, 12 anti-whaling nations handed over a letter of protest to Norway accusing it of endangering minke whales by raising its annual hunting quota.

This year, Norway authorised its whalers to take 1,052 minke whales, up from 796 in 2005.

The total minke population is estimated at more than 100,000 in the North Atlantic.

The 12 protesting countries also accused Norway of pressuring its researchers to justify large-scale destruction of the species.

The foreign ministry called the diplomats to a meeting yesterday to inform them that their allegations were "unfounded".

As I said previously, those 12 nations who criticised Norway should be ashamed of themselves.

And Norway is to be congratulated for taking this firm political action. They are not obliged to be the environmental punching bag for politicians on the other side of the world, particularly when the protesting nations themselves are more than happy to permit the deaths of their own marine mammals for the benefit of their own local squid fisheries. Norway's move shows the world quite unequivocally that it is not prepared to be a destination for exported environmentalism.



IWC 2006: Greenpeace Australia Pacific shambles

Greenpeace is losing relevance.

A disastrous austral summer
... and to top it all off, finances of Greenpeace Australia Pacific are a shambles as well. All this is rather odd - I thought Greenpeace wasn't in this business for the money? Why is an "environmental" organization like this spending more money than it has available to it?

Green group sheds its staff

May 13, 2006

CONSERVATION giant Greenpeace Australia Pacific has posted its third operating loss in as many years and culled staff numbers.

Greenpeace chief executive Steve Shallhorn admitted yesterday the organisation had been forced to make 12 full-time staff members out of 80 redundant this year in a belt-tightening exercise aimed at balancing the budget.

The organisation's financial report for 2005 shows it raised more than $17 million last year from supporters - almost $4million more than in 2004 - but recorded a net loss of $907,000.

In 2004, Greenpeace Australia was $1.2 million in the red.

According to the audited financial statement, the losses were a result of "additional investment in fundraising" - an investment which Greenpeace believes has stemmed the decline in new supporter numbers over recent years.

Mr Shallhorn defended the losses, saying they were planned as the organisation drew down and spent cash reserves of almost $4million.

"Over three years we had the ability to spend more money on campaigns than we earned because we were drawing down reserves," he said.

"This year we're moving to a balanced budget."

He admitted that Greenpeace had also wound down some campaigns and shifted others overseas under a new agreement with Greenpeace International that would see 25per cent of all the Australia Pacific arm's fundraising go offshore.

Greenpeace Australia already contributes 18 per cent of its revenues to Greenpeace International each year.

From next year, that contribution will rise by an additional 7 per cent in order to fund new Greenpeace offices in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and China.

"Greenpeace offices have agreed to a phenomenon known as the Global Resource Allocation where the larger offices set aside a proportion of their fundraising to be spent on campaigns in the developing world," Mr Shallhorn said.

As a result, more money would be diverted to campaigning against the rapid deforestation of Melanesia, Papua New Guinea and The Amazon as well as unsustainable fishing practices in the Pacific.

He said no further redundancies would be required to fund those projects.

"The last year or so has been very good for Greenpeace and we have grown the number of supporters and as 2005 financial statements show, we're raising more money each year," Mr Shallhorn said.

"If anything we're finding the current climate relatively easy to get Australians to support our work and attracted an additional 1500 supporters in the last six months."

About one million euros were spent on Greenpeace's anti-whaling campaign in January this year that saw numerous high-seas confrontations with Japanese whaling boats, but that money came from the Greenpeace International budget, a Greenpeace Australia Pacific spokeswoman said last night.

All those confrontations, for what? What did Australian Pacific Greenpeace supporters get for their money?



IWC 2006: ICR in written protest

The Institue of Cetacean Research, together with the Japan Whaling Association and Kyodo Senpaku, has initiated a call for support of their written protest against the actions of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd during the recent JARPA II research expedition in the Southern Ocean
(thanks for pointing this out to me, Y/H-san - I missed it :-))

The written letter of protest reads roughly along these lines:
From December last year through January for the period of a month, Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, working in concert together, relentlessly and repeatedly carried out acts of obstruction against our research vessels. These vessels were conducting just research whaling activities in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in the Antarctic ocean.

These same groups repeatedly attempted to entangle rope in the propellers of research vessels, manouvered abnormally close to our ships, amongst various other dangerous acts, and in one instance caused a collision with a part of one of our research vessels. This behaviour ignored international agreements that are designed to ensure the safety of marine navigation and that prohibit acts of piracy. In no way could these acts be considered as peaceful protest action. These were unforgivable terrorist acts that put the precious lives of the research vessel staff at risk in the harsh Antarctic environment. We strongly demand of both these groups that they do not carry out these kinds of terrorist acts again in future.
The bottom of the letter has a place holder for members of the public who wish to sign their name in support of the protest to do so. I sent my name off to the ICR this morning, of course, as well as a few words of encouragement.

My current workplace is actually not too far from the ICR, so maybe one day I might get the chance to head over, although I'm not sure whether they have "open days" for the public or not. I understand that they do have a library, which the public can get access to.



IWC 2006: Tuvalu does it's people right

A good article appeared at www.stuff.co.nz on Tuvalu's stance at the IWC. The journo does a reasonable job of putting across Tuvalu's position as it is, as opposed to what anti-whaling NGOs and governments would say it is (kudos to Michael Field - well done).

Amongst other things, Tuvalu
This is of course quite reasonable, especially from a small island nation dependant on the resources of the ocean around it for development potential.

From the New Zealand side:
Who is it bad news for? I think it's great news for the people of Tuvalu that their government is putting their interests ahead of interests of people in foreign countries.

And why is this seen as the Pacific turning against New Zealand? Were the Pacific nations ever opposed to the sustainable use of marine resources? On the contrary, it's New Zealand who abandoned the principle of sustainable use when it rejoined the IWC in 1975 after earlier quitting the organization.

New Zealand is a fairly developed nation, whose economy is not overly reliant on marine resources for expansion. 80% of New Zealanders live in cities.

Look at Tuvalu. It does not have the natural resources available to New Zealand. What does it have?

Fish. Only fish. That's it. Nothing else.

New Zealand may be able to afford itself the luxury of the odd irrational air-headed "environmental" policy, but Tuvalu has no room to compromise. Tuvalu must ensure that it's marine resources are managed properly because they have nothing else.

The full article is duplicated below for posterity. Congratulations, once again Tuvalu.

Tuvalu sides with whaling nations

11 May 2006


A bid by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to persuade Tuvalu to vote with New Zealand to protect whales has failed, with the tiny Pacific archipelago saying it favours sustainable use.

News that the Tuvaluan Government said it was grateful for aid from Australia and New Zealand but wanted to act in the best interests of its people has been met with disappointment.

The decision comes before a crucial International Whaling Commission meeting at which Japan may take control of the 66-nation body.

New Zealand's whaling commissioner, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, said Tuvalu's stance was bad news.

"It's going to be exceedingly close and therefore every vote counts."

A senior Tuvaluan Government official was quoted as saying: "Our position has never changed since we joined the International Whaling Commission. We are for the sustainable use of whatever resources we have, be it whales, fish, forestry, land.

"Whilst we appreciate assistance from both countries, Tuvalu should be allowed as a sovereign nation to make its independent decision on what is best for its people."

Mr Carter was not available for comment yesterday but a spokesman said despite relationship-building between the two countries "it was never expected the meeting would produce an overnight change in Tuvalu's position".

The diplomatic failure for Mr Carter comes as nations lined up with Japan meet in Tokyo today to plan their strategy for the IWC meeting from June 16 to 20 in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis.

On paper Japan has a majority of the 66 member nations in the IWC. To overturn the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling would require a three-quarters majority. This is considered unlikely, but a simple majority vote would amount to a big win for Japan and fellow whaling nations Norway and Iceland.

Mr Carter is to visit the Solomons, Kiribati and Nauru before the IWC meeting. Sir Geoffrey said the lobbying was important "as the Pacific has been turning against us in the International Whaling Commission".

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IWC 2006: Response from Chris Carter on Norway statements

Today I received an email from NZ Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter's secretary with a response to correspondence I sent concerning a recent press release.

Minister Carter says he stands by his comments:
"When the RMP was adopted by the IWC in 1994, the Commission chose to set the "tuning levels" between 54 percent (below which a stock would be fully protected) and 72 percent (at which the maximum quota levels, to take the full replacement yield, would be set). Norway announced at the annual meeting of the IWC in June 2005 that for its commercial whaling operations, it would be reducing the tuning level from 72 percent to 60 percent ... I understand that Norway will be formally presenting the position to the IWC Scientific Committee at this month's meeting of the IWC Scientific Committee, at which it will be peer reviewed."
I responded to the Minister's secretary as follows, taking the opportunity to also suggest a policy change:

Thank you very much for your response.
I understand that the Minister has been flying to places such as Tuvalu in search of support for New Zealand's position at the IWC in recent days, so I do appreciate his taking the time to reply at what must be a particularly busy time.

As for content of his response, I'm still left uncertain regarding the Minister's comments.

The Minister states that the Commission chose to use tuning levels between 0.54 and 0.72. It's my understanding that tests of the RMP by the Scientific Committee during it's development have already shown these values to ensure that the IWC's management objectives are met.

Norway's selection of 0.60 is of course within the range of 0.54 and 0.72.

Additionally, the tuning level change from 0.72 to 0.60 has been gradual, not sudden. Norway used 0.66 in 2001, and 0.62 in 2003.

It is for these reasons that I expect that the Scientific Committee will refer the Minister to their earlier work on the matter.

I understand that the Norwegians are of the opinion that under ecosystem-based management the catch limits would be somewhat higher than under the highly conservative RMP.

As Norway lodged a formal objection to Para 10 (e) of the IWC Schedule, there is of course no legal reason for Norway to employ the conservative RMP at all, instead of independant approaches yielding larger quotas. There is nothing stopping them from declaring "open season", other than their own good sense.

However, there is no guarantee that this will continue to be the case. If New Zealand's position is to "save whales", the best way to ensure that as few whales as possible are removed over the long term is to work constructively to complete an RMS agreeable to Norway (and indeed other nations following the principle of sustainable use) sooner, rather than later (or indeed never).

Failing to do this leaves open the possibility that Norway may indeed continue to increase it's quotas to levels that do prove to be unsustainable, although that doesn't appear to be a realistic concern at present.

I think the time has come for New Zealand to recognise that dreams of 21st century where there is no whaling is fanciful, and that compromise is necessary at the IWC to ensure that the best conservation outcomes do come to pass. Furthermore, it's important for New Zealand's position to reflect the reality that whaling is entirely consistent with the concept of ecosystem-based management of marine resources, as noted in Agenda 21 and recent FAO documentation on fisheries.

I notice that (http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/susdev/wssd/) New Zealand wishes to position itself as "a champion of sustainable development, at home and internationally, committed to following and developing best practice". If indeed New Zealand wishes to consistently champion such principles, changes to our anti-whaling policy are evidently required.

I'll be following proceedings at St Kitts with interest.




IWC 2006: Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua & Barbuda's IWC representatives are in Japan tomorrow and the day after for a meeting with other pro-sustainable use nations, ahead of the 2006 IWC meeting.

Ambassador Liverpool is adamant that Antigua & Barbuda’s participation in the International Whaling Commission is necessary to build and sustain international alliances with countries that are similarly committed to the sustainable utilisation approach in the management of oceanic resources.

Senator Massiah has also rationalised the Caribbean’s position as one rooted in a number of factors.

“The position taken by Caribbean countries within the IWC remains rooted in respect for cultural diversity, traditions of coastal peoples as well as coastal state rights, relevant national and international laws, the need for science based management, the contribution of marine resources to our respective economies, poverty reduction and food security,” Senator Massiah stated.

Indeed, it's remarkable that the anti-whaling nations continue to fail to recognise this position.

Not only that, they choose to bully Antigua & Barbuda and other Caribbean nations on these issues, as well as insult their integrity. From 2005:

ULSAN, South Korea (AFP): Western governments and environmental groups have threatened and intimidated other states because of their opposition to a ban on commercial whaling, delegates from two Caribbean countries alleged Sunday.

"Dominica... is a country that has been threatened," delegate Lloyd Pascal told reporters in the former South Korean whaling port of Ulsan. "They think they can intimidate us.

"It's not only the NGOs (non-governmental organisations). Governments are sending their envoys to the Caribbean and intimidate our government to tell them that if you don't change your position you're going to risk how much aid... you get from us."

"The islands of the Caribbean have been under tremendous pressure from NGOs because they do not follow the dictates of their instructions at the IWC," he added.

Fisheries Minister Joanne Massiah of Antigua and Barbuda said only that those behind the threats were "governments of the developed world".

"The agenda and the emotive sentiment that are being expressed by the NGOs and the anti-whaling camp are colonialist in nature and patronising in the extreme," she told journalists.

"What we have seen is an effort to stymie our tourism product by a misinformation campaign," she alleged, saying that NGOs were leading the campaign.

Minister Massiah has been broadly critical of the anti-whaling nations:
Many of Japan's supporters among the small island-developing nation group deeply resent what they claim is bullying and interference in their economic self-determination by wealthy countries.

"It's a privilege of being economically well-off, this failure to understand and accept the cultures of traditional peoples," says Antigua and Barbuda Agriculture and Resources Minister Joanne Massiah. "We forget that 50 million people are starving every day while we look at this issue so flippantly and that marine resources are a critical source of protein."
Various other Caribbean perspectives are covered in this article on a symposium on sustainable use of regional marine resources held in St Kitts. Briefer coverage of the symposium is here.


IWC 2006: Tuvalu sticks to what it believes in

Tuvalu can stand proud as a nation after it's officials rejected NZ Conservation Minister Chris Carter's meddling in their democratic processes.

Tuvalu confirms sustainable whaling policy

Posted at 03:28 on 09 May, 2006 UTC

Tuvalu says it will maintain its policy of sustainable whaling despite a New Zealand effort to have it change its stance.

The news agency, Pacnews, quotes an unnamed Tuvalu official as saying that it has maintained the policy since joining the International Whaling Commission.

The comment comes after New Zealand’s conservation minister, Chris Carter, visited Funafuti.

The Tuvalu official described the visit as an apparent bid by New Zealand and Australia to get Tuvalu to vote against pro-whaling nations like Japan and Norway.

Mr Carter says Tuvalu has voted with the pro-whaling nations before, but Tuvalu is also a member of the Pacific community where whale conservation and eco-tourism offers considerable economic opportunities.

New Zealand has agreed to spend 112,000 US dollars to conduct a training and survey programme in Tuvalu to get information about whales and dolphins in its waters.

Congratulations, once again, Tuvalu. And shame on Chris Carter. When will he learn to let small vulnerable nations make their own decisions free of pressure? Once again the need for secret ballots to be introduced at the IWC has been illustrated.

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IWC 2006: Whale meat "stock pile" and "pet food" propaganda

UPDATE 12/16/2006: My subsequent study of this area has revealed some incorrect statements in this piece, so I've added some commentary below as appropriate, in green letters.

The WDCS recently made claims (later repeated by western media outlets) that there is no demand for whale meat in Japan, resulting in an increasingly large "stock pile" of whale meat. They drew a comparison between a stock pile of 673 tonnes of whale meat in March 1998, and a more recent figure of 4,800 tonnes, at some point last year. Another aspect of their criticism was that they had found a website selling whale meat based pet food products.

Annecdotally, from my perspective here in Tokyo, I can inform readers that there is certainly demand for whale meat.

A restaurant down the road from my place of residence had "whale bacon" at the top of it's menu when I walked past the other day, and last night I was surprised to find that another local restaurant I frequent regularly with friends also has a "whale" dish (I tried it out - pretty good actually - better than blubber, that's for sure).

At this point it's worth noting that the word in Japanese for "whale" is "kujira", although the meaning is closer to "cetacean" than "whale". In that sense, when you are buying "kujira" meat in Japan, you may be getting dolphin meat, or you may be getting meat from an Antarctic baleen whale. Or perhaps something in between. The Baird's Beaked whale for example is considered to be outside the IWC's management competency, and is actually larger in size than the minke whale.
UPDATE 12/16/2006: My understanding here was years out of date. The Government of Japan enacted new legislation regarding labelling so that this should no longer be widespread - these days the product should be labelled with the common species name.

I didn't bother to ask what the whale meat I had last night was, but it was similar to a dish I once tried at my favourite sushi restaurant in Akasaka, which was Antarctic minke whale. Unless you bother to ask the shop staff, you don't know :) I've had whale meat at several other restaurants as well, particularly of note is the famous speciality whale meat restaurant in trendy Shibuya.

So, it's amusing to read in the western media that the Japanese have lost their taste for whale meat. Perhaps the western media and NGO groups forgot to tell the Japanese?

Anyway - enough annecdotes, let's do some analysis of the NGO propaganda. Firstly on the "stock pile", later on the pet food aspect.

Stock piles

In the first instance, to have a meaningful comparison, we need to consider the time of year when the statistics are compiled. The "stock pile" is at it's lowest size prior to the introduction to market of the whale meat from the Antarctic and North Pacific research programmes, which are conducted in the summer seasons of each hemisphere. WDCS acknowledges the 673 tonne figure was from March 1998, which is prior to the return of the JARPA fleet, but their piece suspiciously did not say when the 4,800 tonne measure was made.

Elsewhere however, the Asahi newspaper english edition ran a story, where they stated that the stock pile size of 4,800 was at the end of August, but was down to 3,511 tonnes at the end of December. So, assuming these figures are accurate, in 4 months 1,300 tonnes of whale meat were consumed. Annually, we can therefore extrapolate to conclude that approximately 3,900 tonnes of whale meat is consumed, or more than 80% of the "stock pile", leaving than 900 tonnes in reserve, if no further supply was added.

3,900 tonnes of whale meat consumed a year is almost 6 times the size of the "stock pile" in 1998. Not bad for a nation of people who, apparently, don't want to eat whale meat anymore.
UPDATE 12/16/2006: Actual figures on outgoing stockpile movements can be found in my stockpile analyses. Consumption is actually much higher than 3,900 tonnes these days - since 2001 new laws enabling by-caught whales to be marketed under certain conditions were introduced, contributing to supply.

Additionally, when we talk about the "stock pile" that appears to be larger today than a decade ago, one also needs to consider whether this indicates:
  1. A decrease in demand, as WDCS suggested, or
  2. An increase in supply.
If we check the whaling statistics, which are available for IWC whaling (non-IWC species should be on the 'net somewhere too though), we can see that numbers of whales taken in 1998 and 2004 were not static.

Based on these figures, we can deduce that there was an increase in supply of whale meat between 1998 and 2004, of approximmately 220 whales, or about 40%.

That's only in terms of numbers though - we haven't yet considered the species, which vary in size, that were taken. Naturally, there is more meat on bigger whale species than there is on the smaller minke whales, which are the main target of Japanese research programmes.

So, it is not unreasonable to imagine a 50% increase in available whale meat from the research programmes, comparing 1998 and 2004.

This alone tells us that it is natural to see a difference in peak "stock pile" size between these years, with no relation whatsoever to demand.

We can also consider the "stock pile" size against the number of whales taken, and their weight.

The average minke whale weighs in at 6.5 tonnes. In 2004, a total of 603 minke whales were taken, which would weigh in at 3919.5 tonnes.

100 sei whales were also taken, and with each weighing approximately 20 tonnes each, we have another 2000 tonnes.

Catches of these two species alone already take us close to 6000 tonnes of whale. Of course, a certain percentage of the whale is not put on the market, but still, the figures more than speak for themselves.

Looking forward, from the commencement of the JARPA II programme this past austral summer, there has been not only an increase in numbers of whales taken (almost 100% increase in minke whales), but also a move to target the larger fin whales, of which 10 were taken this season. Fin whales are said to be between 45-75 tonnes each, whereas the minkes are only 5-8 tonnes each. So it's probably fair to assume that with fins in the harpoon sights as well, we're talking about a well-over 100% increase in the amount of whale meat from the JARPA programme that will be available when the meat goes on sale this year, compared with last season. So don't be surprised if you see WDCS or other NGO groups again raise the issue of "stock pile" size. We can fully expect that the peak size will get up around levels of 8,000 tonnes, likely even more.

Indeed, from the next JARPA II season, 50 Humpacks and 50 Fins will be taken in alternative seasons, so the amount of whale meat available is certain to increase again next year.

Depending on how they regulate sales, the Japanese government may finally be able to see the research programmes be fully self-funding.

Simple economics tells us that due to the increase in supply, if demand remains static, or falls as the NGO propaganda suggests, we can expect to see the price of the meat falling in the near future.

If on the other hand, the Japanese government is right that there is large demand for whale meat products, we should see prices remain the same (the government says that were it not for their price controls, demand would see whale meat prices skyrocket)

So it's interesting that the anti-whaling NGOs are pushing the line that there is no demand for whale meat, and that Japanese taxpayer money is being wasted. This is despite previous claims from these same groups that the research whaling is a "thinly disguised" commercial activity!

Personally, I imagine that they will drop this line of argumentation before too long, because it's completely baseless, as I have illustrated above. Indeed if the research programmes do finally start to start recouping costs lost from previous years' research, those groups will likely return to their "research whaling is commercial whaling in disguise" arguments, instead of this "no demand for whale meat" argument, which doesn't seem to have much point to it, other than misleading the public of the western world.

Pet Food

Another line of argument in the WDCS propaganda piece was that there is so much left over whale meat that it is being turned into pet food.
WDCS was shocked to find a website selling whale meat for pets and claiming the products are ‘fished freshly out of the water’, ‘organic’, ‘safe and healthy’ and ‘made in factories where whale meat is processed for human consumption’.

"We have heard many arguments from Japan over the years about why whaling is necessary to them but they have never stated that they needed to kill whales to feed their dogs!”
Again, if one checks the facts, one comes off with a very different impression than that given by the WDCS.

Here is the website in question.

The first thing to note is that the website is not a pet food website. It has a pet food section here, on one of it's pages.

They have even supplied a note in English explaining that product is made from small intenstines of Baird’s beaked whales, a smaller cetacean species which Japan considers to not be covered by the IWC’s competence. Japan regulates the utilization of this whale species independantly, and this has nothing to do with the JARPA or JARPN research programmes conducted under IWC special permit.

Furthermore, humans don’t eat whale parts such as the small intestines, so it’s both natural and environmentally friendly for these parts to be processed as pet food if they can, rather than simply thrown out in the trash.

Mark Simmonds, Director of Science at WDCS tries to give the impression that juicy steaks of whale meat from the antarctic research programmes is being turned into pet food. As we can see, he is simply put, a liar.

The existence of the commercial website site itself is also another example that there is demand in Japan for "kujira" products.

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IWC 2006: Carter heading for Tuvalu to "discuss" whaling

NZ Conservation Minister, Chris Carter is apparently off to Tuvalu.
Tuvalu has voted with the pro-whaling nations in the past, but Mr Carter hopes he can persuade it to abstain on some critical issues.
A disgrace. Tuvalu is a sovereign nation, and it's people are quite capable of understanding whaling issues and making a decision by themselves, without Chris Carter's guidance. Then again, perhaps Carter may learn a thing or two out of the discussion, so it may be a useful exercise afterall.

Tuvalu has made its position on the issue quite clear.

Prime Minister Maatia Toafa has called on Australia and New Zealand to allow Tuvalu to be able to make a decision on its own, without pressure.

As a supposedly responsible Minister, Chris Carter should rightfully have heeded this request.

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IWC 2006: 700 new humpbacks - where is the risk Prof Harrison?

More news on the ever-increasing Humpback stocks.

Little has changed since I wrote about this here, here, and here last year. Oh, and here as well.

Peter Harrison expects the an additional 700 humpback whales to be added to the population this year, yet he still chooses to make almost completely unfathomable statements that "Japan's scientific whaling program was putting the whale population recovery at risk".

Japan plans to take only 10 humpback whales in the next austral summer - that's a miniscule number of the entire population, and only a miserable 1.4% of the increase that Harrison expects this year.

Instead of a small number of whales being removed from the population each year, would Harrison still hold his concerns about risk to the stock were it only growing at a rate of say 9% (630 whales), instead of 10% (700 whales)?

I'd rather see 700 new whales and the ICR take 10 from the entire population, than have only 630 new whales and the ICR take none.

One can but wonder how long Harrison intends to keep up this almost inexplicable fear-mongering, when at least one scientific model shows that the western and eastern breeding humpback populations off Australia are likely to be close to pristine levels within the next 10 to 20 years. The ICR has produced analyses indicating that the impact on stock recoveries to their pristine levels by a removal of 50 humpbacks each year will be negligable.

At the very least, I'd like to see Harrison try to actually put some meat on the puny skeleton of an argument he makes that there is significant risk to the Humpback population from the JARPA II programme. The ball is firmly in his court to stump up with a rational argument as to why the world should be concerned about the JARPA II programme impact on humpbacks.

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