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Whaling summit setback for Japan

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Japan has unexpectedly lost two key votes at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the Caribbean island of St Kitts. The pro-whaling nation wanted to end work on conservation of sea mammals and introduce secret ballots.

Correspondents say for the moment at least the anti-whaling bloc appears to have retained the balance of power.

Japan says it will consider leaving the IWC if it does not move back towards a resumption of commercial whaling.

Japan has spent years lobbying developing nations to join the IWC and wrest power from the majority anti-whaling bloc. Environmental groups accuse these countries of voting with Japan in return for aid, a charge which the Japanese deny.

Conservation groups have expressed cautious relief.

The BBC's Richard Black in St Kitts says they believed a Japanese win on the conservation motion would have had serious consequences for many species of small cetaceans.

Not all of Japan's traditional allies have turned up here and a couple voted unexpectedly with the pro-conservation nations, he says.

However, other votes lie ahead during the five-day meeting and other countries expected to side with Japan may yet turn up, our correspondent says.


The basic argument is the same as it has been for years.

The self-styled pro-conservation countries led by Australia, New Zealand and the UK believe whales are intrinsically special animals and should never be killed.

In the opposition corner is a bloc led by Japan, which sees things differently.

Japan's deputy commissioner to the IWC, Joji Morishita, says the organisation has become too concerned with conservation.

Speaking on BBC Five Live Breakfast he said many Japanese people felt the IWC was "arrogant" and that whales could be used on a sustainable basis.

This meant "science and probably international law" were on the side of the Japanese, he said.

"Many of Japanese citizens think that Westerners, [the] outside world, are imposing their own value code on Japan on an emotional basis, and naturally they think they're bullies or... arrogant."

He added: "Allowing sustainable use of abundant species while protecting the depleted... we don't see the problem with that. It's exactly the same as conservation and management of any other wildlife or fishery resources."

But if the argument is familiar, the balance of power this year looks very different.

Changes possible

Four countries have just joined, of which three look set to support Japan giving it a majority on paper.

That could mean a number of important changes to the IWC.

Japan has hinted it may move towards overturning the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling, although a vote for resumption of commercial hunting at this meeting itself is highly unlikely.

To try to erode Japan's support, environmental groups have been campaigning in some of the small developing nations which traditionally support Japan.

A survey commissioned by WWF suggested there was a majority opinion against whaling in all 10 of the Caribbean and Pacific states in which they polled.

WWF is urging delegates from those nations to cast their votes accordingly.

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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I've recieved and sent a few emails about this. *sigh*


                                               Look at the flowers

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Lady, can we help in any way ?

An update of what's happened on this news topic;

Japan to table whaling 'roadmap'


Japan is to table its proposal for a move towards a return to commercial whaling on day two of the International Whaling Commission annual meeting. It says future whaling would be sustainable, with safeguards including independent observers and set quotas.

On the first day of the meeting in St Kitts, Japan lost two key votes, one which would have ended IWC work on conserving dolphins and porpoises.

But new arrivals could tip the balance of power.

At the end of the first day, delegates from Togo and Cameroon arrived and paid their subscriptions, entitling them to vote.

As Japan lost the two first-day motions narrowly - one by two votes, the other by three - it may expect to fare better if it puts its proposals to a vote on day two.

Japan has said it will consider leaving the IWC if it does not move back towards an eventual resumption of commercial whaling, a process which Japan terms "normalisation".

"This organisation was established in order to manage whaling and whale species," said Japan's deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita.

"To 'manage' means to allow the utilisation of abundant species, under international control, under strict control, while protecting depleted and endangered species."

'No going back'

The proposal can be seen as a "roadmap" towards a return to regulated commercial whaling.

Japan maintains it is not a return to the rapacious practices of the early 20th Century, when tens of thousands of whales were hunted each year and stocks of some, notably the blue whale, plummeted towards extinction.

"Then whales were hunted for oil, but no-one hunts for oil now," said Mr Morishita.

Hunting for meat, Japan says, would mean catching far fewer whales.

Safeguards envisaged by Japan would include:

  • sustainable quotas
  • monitoring and inspection by enforcement officials
  • a DNA registry or catch certification system
  • penalties for violations

The normalisation document is unlikely to appease the concerns of environmental groups which see it leading to an expansion of hunting.

Stalls on the road

Discussions on an issue closely allied to normalisation, the Revised Management Scheme (RMS), have been going on for 14 years without conclusion.

The RMS discussions would have seen IWC members agree on a roadmap much the same as the one Japan is now proposing; and the suspension of talks in March is a principal reason for Japan now tabling its normalisation ideas.

But if anti-whaling nations could not find common ground with Japan in 14 years of talks, they are unlikely to find any now.

To get around that obstacle, Japan is proposing to host separate talks later this year with countries which see potential in the idea.

There is a view in some conservation-minded countries that a small amount of regulated commercial hunting would be preferable to the current situation, which sees Japan and Iceland whaling for what they call "scientific purposes" as permitted under IWC rules, and Norway ignoring the moratorium having lodged a legal objection at its inception.

This amounts to a total catch of about 2,000 whales per year, under what is supposed to be a global ban.

EDIT: Great news !!! Seems like all the anti-whaling support did pay off ...


Japan defeated in new whaling bid

Pro-whaling nations have lost another vote on the second day of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting in St Kitts.

Japan had tabled a proposal to allow some of its coastal communities to hunt minke whales for local use, but anti-whaling nations defeated the plan.

However, this time Japan lost by only one vote, as the late arrival of some delegates boosted support for them.

On Friday Japan had lost two key votes by a slightly wider margin.

But there is a widespread view that the future of whales and dolphins should not be a political game of numbers.

Dutch whaling commissioner Giuseppe Raaphorst presented a proposal which would bring ministers together to reform what he says is a failing organisation.

"It's working very badly. It's very bad governance," he said.

" Normally with governance you take decisions and go forward. We haven't moved forward, we are going backwards.

"We are going back in time so I think it's a very bad organisation. The only thing you can do - get the ministers together to solve it."

Even this proposal saw the commission divided. Anti-whaling countries supported it, but pro-whaling nations preferred instead another proposal from Japan.

This would see countries prepared to contemplate a return to commercial whaling come together outside the IWC to plan their future strategy.

Neither proposal was put to a vote.

The stark divide between the two camps was summed up by the comments of one Japanese delegate, who said the philosophy of anti-whaling nations in trying to prevent the hunting of whales and dolphins is somewhat akin to that of German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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I don't want to see whales get killed.. but I don't know anything about their actual population numbers or what species would be hunted, etc. If there really is enough of a couple species for a sustanable culling that has no major ecological impact, then they probably should have voted for the limited hunting.. but with the anti-whaling completely supported, it could be a bad thing.. now japan and some other countries could leave the IWC, form their own commission and begin mass whaling, taking into consideration that all the other countries in the IWC wouldn't be participating in the whale hunting.. and that could be even worse for whales than if the IWC did approve it.. :\


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Im all for heavly regulated whaling... if you put a ban on it completely people are going to do it anyways, and japan will not stop reguardless.. I rather have some people breaking the rules and while most follow them, rather than all breaking the law and doing as they see fit.


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hm this is interesting

ive never thought much on the pro life or anti hunting thing much

im not necesarily pro life here but i think if u kill off all the whales that may be bad

but then i think about it like this

they wont hunt and kill off everywhale

in fact its probably impossible for them to kill off all whales unless u look at it over a period of several several years(im thinking in decades) so why not hunt them if its regulated

on top of all that there is the cultural aspect of this

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