Tag Archives: Whaling

IWC Meets Behind Closed Doors

Give Whaling A Chance?

Of all the practices that gets reviled on the planet, one imagines whaling comes in at o.1% ahead of child molesting, hiding child-molesting priests and lying about weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq. Still, there are people who want to do this stuff in spite of all the opposition. If it were up to me I would have walked away from the messy discussions (and quit too) except the opposition managed to make it a matter of principle – which means they’re not going to back down.

Which is in a roundabout way why these IWC meetings have become more and more acrimonious and the tone of discussion more inflammatory from both sides.

It only took an hour before talks were shut down at the IWC meeting in Morocco.

Representatives from more than 80 nations had gathered for the annual IWC meeting, set to be the most controversial in years.

But the deputy chair of the IWC has called for private talks to break the deadlock.

Australia is concerned by the development and says it “shuts down the official process which has been underway for two years”.

The sticking point remains over a proposal to overturn a 24-year ban on commercial whaling.

Here’s the SMH story on this stoppage.

A key negotiator said of the meeting’s suspension: “This is one last attempt to see if there is any common ground. We will be split up into small groups, and we won’t be coming back until Wednesday.”

Patrick Ramage, the global whale program director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said Mr Liverpool had ordered the closed-door meetings with a view to fast-tracking the proposal when the formal session reopens on Wednesday.

“Whatever one’s view on the proposal, its adoption under the present circumstances will destroy any remaining credibility for the whaling commission,”  Mr Ramage said.

I love how if people don’t get their way in negotiations it means the the credibility of the process gets shot. If the whaling nation used this excuse and left the IWC to do as they liked I imagine there would be a furor. Anyway, they’re having an argy-bargy.

Here’s an interesting article from the UK.

Despite becoming a pariah, Japan insists it has right on its side – and not without justification. The moratorium was originally imposed while new methods of estimating whale populations and setting quotas were developed; though both were done, a conservationist majority kept the ban in place. And until recently, Japan killed only minke whales, whose numbers – if much reduced – are still plentiful.

Next week’s proposal has been brewing for the past three years, as governments and environmentalists have been meeting in secret to see if a deal could be struck. As it stands, it would give formal blessing to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, even though the IWC declared the area to be a “whale sanctuary” in 1994, and allow official quotas to
be set. It was heavily pushed by America, and – though Barack Obama has now modified its stance – it still wants a deal.

The sticking point is likely to be in the chilly waters around Antarctica. Greenpeace, WWF and some anti-whaling nations would accept a general lifting of the ban, so long as it stayed in place there, and other safeguards were adopted, such as banning trade in whale meat. But these conditions may be too much for the whalers.

“It is very delicately poised,” one delegate told me yesterday. Much depends on whether EU countries are allowed to vote individually or have to act as a block, in which case, since they are divided, they would all have to abstain. But whatever way it goes, a week of high drama and much emotion lies ahead. I wonder if Agadir has a lifeboat.

In a nusthell, it’s time everybody made a deal about it instead of continue all the rancor and name-calling, and in turn behaved like mature adults instead of squabbling kids in a schoolyard. Of course Australia is playing up its role as teacher’s pet by going to the Hague with this stuff where it hopes the international juridical community share in its prejudices.

Let’s look at the deal as it was leaked. In exchange for abolishing the scientific whaling regimen, the commercial ban would get lifted. However, the number of whales taken would fall from 850 to 200. the sticking point for the whaling nations is that the drop in numbers is too much while the in principle resumption of commercial whaling  is too far against the principles of the anti-whaling nations. I am guessing that the Anti-whaling nations would walk away from the negotiating table sooner than the whaling nations because they have to sacrifice their own principles and go home and explain why. If they do, the whaling nations will most likely say, “we knew you couldn’t live up to a deal, see you next year.” and prepare for next year’s hunt.

But that’s just my guess. Peter Garrett has ‘ambitions’:

“A compromise … had been supported by some countries on the basis that some compromise was better than nothing,” Mr Garrett said.

“Australia doesn’t take that view, we have more ambition in relation to this matter, and I’m really confident that there’ll be some support around the table for our views.”

In other words, it’s my-way-or-the-highway, same as before, so I imagine my guess is going to turn out right.

It’s interesting that the discourse is so strained that on the one hand the whaling nations such as Norway and Iceland are ready to walk out of the IWC and join Canada as a whaling nation operating outside of the IWC. The Minister for Agriculture of Japan, Masahiko Yamada has indicated that Japan is willing to cut numbers for a deal. They have categorically ruled out that they would walk out of the IWC.

At the other end of the spectrum, Australia is trying to couch the IWC as corrupt and possibly trying to get out of any IWC agreement that might include a compromise. I don’t think there’s a middle ground and the last decade has shown that therewon’t ever be a middle ground. So maybe it is time that people start drawing up plans for a post-IWC kind of world where nations set their own quotas and go whaling.

For instance, South Korea (remember how they go ‘accidental’-whaling?) want to be dealt into to the deal if commercial whaling is going to resume. Russia will want a piece too, though they’ve been very quiet.

The best argument against whaling is that eating whale gives you mercury poisoning. The world’s seas are so polluted with mercury thanks to coal fire emissions now, that most whales of any species are too high in mercury to eat. The arguments for the whalers to stop is never going to be successfully couched in terms of ethics of animal cruelty – as traditionally done – when there are any number of cruel industries around. And it’s hard to mount an attack on the cultural argument for whaling when you have loopholes for such things already. If you can’t give up the beef industry, why should they give up their whale industry on account of your sensitivities?

The worst arguments are the ones mounted by Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace. If you really want to save whales, then make real cuts to carbon emissions and abandon coal fire stations. Really, the rest of it is literally showboating. The drop in krill population due to climate change will decimate the whales – much more so than a bunch of whaling boats from Japan, Iceland and Norway combined.

BTW, where’s the Sea Shepherd crew protesting BP over the oil spill? They’re not? Gee why doesn’t that surprise me?


The latest news seems to be that everybody has agreed to disagree. There’s no deal.




According to the Japanese source, they’ve agree with the anti-whaling nations to “keep working towards a compromise”. That means there will be another research hunt pretty soon. Jesus. Nobody compromised this year, nobody compromised last year, nor the year before that nor the year before that; what makes them think there will be a compromise next year?

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