Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission

Posted By: SimonB

Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/17/06 03:31 PM

Through a lengthy, covert operation, Japan is poised to seize control of whale hunting - and that spells disaster for the endangered mammal

17 April 2006

The environmental movement is facing one of its biggest-ever reverses, over one of its most cherished causes: Save The Whale.

In a remarkable diplomatic coup, Japan, the leading pro-whaling nation, is poised to seize control of whaling's regulatory body, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and so hasten the return of commercial whale hunting, which has been officially banned worldwide for the past 20 years.

While the world has been looking the other way, the Japanese have spent nearly a decade and many millions of dollars building up a voting majority in the IWC, by buying the votes of small member states with substantial foreign aid packages.

Their aim is to reverse the moratorium on commercial whaling brought in by the IWC in 1986 as a result of the long Save The Whale campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental pressure groups.

This has always been seen as of one of the environment movement's greatest success stories.

But anyone who opposes killing the great whales, or who thought that the main battle against the harpooners had been won, is in for a nasty surprise when at the IWC meeting in the West Indies, two months from now, this new majority is likely to become clear, and to be exercised for the first time. It will be a huge propaganda victory for the Japanese and the other nations determined to continue whale hunting, principally Norway and Iceland.

The simple majority (51 per cent- plus) of votes the Japanese and their allies are virtually certain to command at the June meeting in St Kitts and Nevis will not enable them to scrap the moratorium outright - that needs a voting majority of 75 per cent.

But it will enable them to reshape the IWC comprehensively in a much more pro-whaling fashion - by stopping all its conservation work, stopping all discussions of animal welfare in relation to whaling, and promoting the trade in whale products.

It will also allow them to get resolutions passed approving Japan's so-called "scientific" whaling - the commercial whaling in disguise the Japanese have continued since the ban. (This year they are hunting nearly 1,000 minke whales in the Southern Ocean). Although their pretence of killing the animals for research fools no one - the meat is sold commercially - the Japanese are anxious for it to be given international legitimacy, in the face of continuing worldwide criticism.

But perhaps most significantly of all, the majority vote will enable the introduction of secret ballots in the IWC - where voting is at present open. This will mean that Japan's vote-buying can no longer be tracked, and will open the way for more countries to join the Japanese in their quest to have the moratorium ultimately overturned.

"Japan achieving a majority in the IWC is going to be an environmental disaster, yet the world seems unaware that it is about to happen," said Vassili Papstavrou, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who has carefully followed the Japanese build-up of supporting countries. "Countries that oppose whaling have done almost nothing to stop it."

Although the Japanese have always defiantly refused to accept the international whaling ban, despite world opinion, it was not until about 1998 that they set out on a deliberate course to take control of the institution which brought it in.

They did so by a form of entryism - encouraging small, poor countries to join the IWC, most of which had no previous whaling tradition at all, and some of which - such as Mali and Mongolia - did not even have a coastline. In return, the new IWC members were given multimillion-dollar aid packages.

The Japanese have targeted two groups of nations in particular - states in west and north Africa, and small states, often islands, in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Largely as a result of this, the IWC, which had 40 members in 2000, now has 66.

It is likely that the full total of supporting states Japan has brought into the IWC since 1998 is 19; they can all be shown to be clients of Japan by the consistency of their IWC voting records. They can also be shown to be in receipt of substantial Japanese largesse.

For example, the Republic of Guinea, which joined the IWC in 2000, in 2002 received $6.55m in Japanese aid for construction of a fish market in Conakry, the capital.

For small, often desperately poor nations, these are sizeable and very tempting sums.

The end result has been a dramatic shift in the IWC voting balance. Ten years ago, when there were 35 active member states, the pattern was 11 or 12 voting with Japan and 22 or 23 opposed.

But by last year's IWC meeting at Ulsan in South Korea, the Japanese had, on paper, a voting majority of 33-30 of the 66 IWC members (three anti-whaling member states, Peru, Kenya and Costa Rica, being unable to vote because they are behind with their subscriptions).

Yet four Japanese client states - Belize, Mali, Togo and the Gambia - failed to turn up for the meeting, and so the Japanese were voted down, much to their anger.

Japan's leading representative at the meeting, Akira Nakamae, said at the time: "Our side's supporters are about to reach a majority soon.

"Some of you are so glad that some poor countries could not attend this meeting.

"However, next year they will all participate, and the reversal of history, the turning point, is soon to come."

An ineffective ban

* Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 except for "scientific" purposes.

* Norway resumed commercial whale hunting in 1993, and Iceland followed in 2003.

* Despite widespread international opposition, Tokyo plans to kill 1,070 minke whales this year, 400 more than in 2005 and double the number it hunted a decade ago.

* More than 2,000 whales are likely to be hunted by Japan, Norway and Iceland this year in defiance of world opinion.

* Japan's fleet is legally allowed to hunt about 1,000 whales a year for "research purposes" and since the 1986 ban it has killed more than 5,000 minke whales.

* Despite the pretence of killing the animals for research, most of the meat is sold commercially.
Posted By: Belikin Bill

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/17/06 03:36 PM

Remember "Pearl Harbor"
Posted By: Sun&sand

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/17/06 03:40 PM

So, now we must boycott everything imported from Japan. We are currently boycotting Canadian seafood products and restaraunts that sell canadian products, because of the horrible seal hunts. I have no problem boycotting anything from Japan. The only thing that will get their attention is $$. I will also also boyott all norweigan stuff, except for my hubby...he's norweigan by parents, but a strong animal lover...He will also support our efforts. We are ALL responsible if we do nothing. If we aren't part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/17/06 05:03 PM

Simon - thanks for the article - what was the source?
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/17/06 06:25 PM

It came up through my Yahoo news clipper and was cited in a few papers. Search Yahoo news with keyword Belize and it shows up.
Posted By: Pedro1

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 12:46 AM

What has this got to do with Belize-there are no whales here-answer the questions on how much money SAGA made yesterday-thank the donors and list them
Posted By: deacon+

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 01:08 AM

Does this mean the French will have to bath instead of perfummning? laugh laugh laugh
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 01:28 AM

Let's not get bitchy Peter it's been a long weekend for some of us. There is a Belize relationship in that they signed on for the Japanese and then failed to show up when their vote was needed. Now the Japanese are pissed at Belize does that mean we can hold for more money or do we get cut off. There is some impact there.

I've posted pictures at

and I'm waiting to hear the final results myself. I can tell you that BC's regular Randy won the much appreciated $50BZ bar tab from Pedro's Inn and will be over promptly to consume the proceeds.
Posted By: Pedro1

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 01:34 AM

Come on Simon -you are quick enough to ask for donations and contributions-but as usual it seems remarkably difficult to get SAGA to say what has been donated -how much money has been raised etc. etc.-I thought this was going to be improved -obviously not!!!
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 01:39 AM

See trip report section
Posted By: deacon+

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 03:42 AM

Simon the more you post pics the more I know I have made the right choice in our move, thankyou
Posted By: Denny Shane

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 10:51 AM

After boycotting everything and everybody, I now have no food, no furniture and no clothing. eek
Posted By: sandb

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 10:59 PM

Originally posted by Pedro1:
What has this got to do with Belize-there are no whales here-answer the questions on how much money SAGA made yesterday-thank the donors and list them
Such hubris... //

yeah, I know this is the Chat Area...
Posted By: Belikin Bill

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 04/18/06 11:11 PM

A naked judge? I have heard of naked before the law but not the other was around. smile
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 06/17/06 02:32 PM

Belize Votes The Way of the Whales

Japan had courted Belize in the hope of getting our vote to lift a ban on commercial whaling. Well the courtship failed. Today Belize along with 31 other countries voted against a move by Japan to remove the issue of hunting of dolphins and porpoises from the agenda of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting. It's not a vote on lifting the ban but the 32-30 voting against the proposal by Japan demonstrates that pro-whaling countries have not been able to secure control of the commission.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 06/17/06 02:42 PM

A related story in the San Pedro Sun Jan. 26,06

Long Line Fishing in Belize
Information reaching the SPSun office this past week was of a Japanese company acquiring a permit to long-line fish in Belizean waters. Although long-line fishing is a practice which is prohibited in almost every country in the world, it unfortunately is not illegal in the country of Belize.
Long line fishing is a commercial fishing technique that uses hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks hanging from a single line. Studies have shown the method to be detrimental not only to the various species of fish, but to birds and turtles as well, as they are caught on the many hooks.

In an interview with James Azueta, Ecosystems Management Unit Coordinator in the Fisheries Department, The San Pedro Sun found out that this controversial practice is indeed legal in our country. Any fisherman with the proper resources can acquire a permit to carry out this practice, and as long as it is not done in marine (protected) reserves. In New Zealand, where this practice is common, there is a limit of 25 hooks per line. In Belize, however, there is no set limit. According to Azueta, the long-line fishing being done in the country differs slightly from other parts in the world since it is not done, horizontally but vertically. Or, in other words, some consider deep sea long line fishing to be less detrimental to the environment. In Belize, there are presently two permits that are approved or two vessels are currently long-line fishing.

In response to Japanese companies acquiring rights to carry out this practice, Azueta stated that no such permit has been granted. Apparently a Japanese company is going to do is carry out a workshop where Belizeans will be taught the proper way to long-line fish in our Caribbean waters.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Pro-hunting Japanese seize control of whaling commission - 06/20/06 12:36 AM

Whalers secure crucial vote win in bid to overturn ban
Tiny IWC majority declare 1986 moratorium invalid
Result a return to dark days, say conservationists

Robert Booth
Monday June 19, 2006


Japan's campaign to restart commercial whale hunting received a major boost last night when the International Whaling Commission declared invalid a 20-year ban on the slaughter of the planet's largest creatures for anything other than scientific purposes.
Members of the international commission which regulates whaling voted at a meeting in St Kitts by 33 to 32 to support a declaration that paves the way to the lifting of a moratorium imposed in 1986 to save whale species from extinction.

Japan was joined by delegates from Caribbean and African countries who have been pushing to lift the ban as a way to protect fish stocks from whales and give their small countries food security.

The group - which included Denmark - said the resolution was needed to force the IWC to take up its original mandate of managing whale hunts, not banning them altogether.

Pro-whaling countries still need 75% of votes in the IWC to end the moratorium but last night's vote was seen as a big step towards that goal and Japan is encouraging new pro-whaling states to join the commission in the hope of wresting control from protectionists.

"This tragic moment signifies a great step backwards in time to when the International Whaling Commission was nothing more than a whalers' club," said Niki Entrup, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. "This is a return to the 1970s dark days when whales roamed the seas unprotected. The welfare and future of whales remains seriously in question."

"This is a huge disaster," said Kitty Block of Humane Society International. She said it would bolster Japan's pro-whaling "propaganda".

Earlier in the meeting Japan had lost four votes which illustrated its pro-whaling credentials. It had called for secret ballots at the IWC, an exemption to allow Japanese coastal communities to whale, the elimination of a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and a block on the commission discussing the fate of dolphins, porpoises, small whales and great whales.

The IWC meeting was then thrown into chaos by the vote in favour of the pro-whaling resolution. The declaration's claims that whales are responsible for depleting fish stocks and that non-governmental and environmental organisations which support the whaling ban are a "threat" were fiercely contested, but pro-whaling lobbyists celebrated the first serious setback for those against whaling in years.

"It's only a matter of time before the commercial ban is overturned," said Glenn Inwood, a spokesman for the Japanese delegation.

"This is historic," said Rune Frovik, secretary of the Norwegian pro-whaling lobby the High North Alliance. "For the first time in more than two decades the Whaling Commission expresses support for commercial whaling. This shows the power balance is shifting, but it really shows that both sides need to sit down, compromise and stop yelling from the trenches."

Sue Lieberman, director of the global species programme at WWF International, said a majority of IWC members had adopted language that anti-whaling activists considered scientifically invalid, such as the claim that whales ate large quantities of sought-after fish.

"What is more important than that is this does show that Japan's recruitment drive has finally succeeded. It should be a wake-up call."

Japan has increased aid to countries such as Belize, Mali, Togo, Gambia which are recent members of the IWC. Japan gave $300m to a string of Caribbean islands, ostensibly to develop their fishing industries, but Japan traditionally stresses that whales are responsible for low fish catches.

Japan has abided by the moratorium on commercial whaling since it came into force two decades ago, but, along with Iceland, uses a legal loophole to conduct scientific whaling. Norway is the only country that ignores the ban and more than 25,000 whales have been hunted and killed since the moratorium.

The Japan Whaling Association says Japan would only whale for food rather than oils or bone. It also says it should be allowed to whale because it is part of its culture. "Asking Japan to abandon this part of its culture would compare to Australians being asked to stop eating meat pies, Americans being asked to stop eating hamburgers and the English being asked to go without fish and chips," a statement on its website reads.
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