Earth, Air and Water
An Information Service supplied by the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society

26 June 2006                       

This information service also serves to draw attention to current news items
 and readers are directed to the hosts' websites

Contents
News on the Electronic Front
Government and Legislation
In the News
Japan fisheries minister defends vote on pro-whaling declaration
Solomons MP faces sack over whaling vote
Fury over Denmark's whaling vote
[France and Belgium criticized]
Larger whales take longer to die
Greenpeace protesters arrested at whaling commission meeting
Greenpeace chided over sea smash
Call to tie NZ aid to whaling vote
Japan's IWC win puts whale on the menu
IWC cites whale watching as growing industry for many islands
NZ urged to better protect dolphins
How Japan's thirst for whale-blood bought prosperity to St Kitts
New Zealand disappointed Pacific countries voted for pro-whaling resolution
Fight to cut whaling fee
Japan faces whale 'cruelty' claim
Australia promises whaling fightback
Effort to revive whaling dead : Campbell
Fierce rows rock world whaling talks
Factbox : Voting at the International Whaling Commission [breakdown of votes]
Japan loses bid to resume commercial whaling
Solomon Islands : joints anti-whaling vote
Pro-whalers abstain
RPT-Greenland seeks to hunt humpback, bowhead whales
Pro-whaling nations prepare fight to reopen commercial hunting
Whalers poised to seize control of the International Whaling Commission
Weblog - http://knowgozone.blogspot.com
 

News on the Electronic Front

  Government and Legislation
Parliamentary Monitoring Group - http://www.pmg.org.za/

Committee Minutes

Arts and Culture Portfolio Committee

20 June 2006
National Heritage Trust : Promotion and preserving of environmental cultural heritage


In the News

Japan fisheries minister defends vote on pro-whaling declaration - 23 June
  Tokyo - Japan's fisheries minister on Friday defended the adoption of a nonbinding declaration at the International Whaling Commission earlier this month calling for an end to the moratorium on commercial whaling hunting.

"We won the declaration with a one-vote majority and the voting followed the IWC rules", Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo regarding the Monday vote.

"Criticism against the declaration sounds as if we were accused of scoring a goal, though judges said we had not violated offside rule", Nakagawa said, dismissing complaints from anti-whaling countries.

Nakagawa brushed off allegations that pro-whaling members were engaged in vote-buying, saying anti-whaling and pro-whaling countries are "on equal footing", both seeking to gain support from newly acceding member countries that do not conduct whaling, Kyodo News reported.

The 70-member IWC narrowly approved the declaration 33 to 32. It was put forward by 30 pro-whaling countries including Japan and Norway during the IWC meeting on the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis. It said the moratorium is "no longer necessary".

The endorsement of the declaration does not mean an end to the moratorium because lifting it requires a three-quarters majority.

Antara News website


Solomons MP faces sack over whaling vote - 23 June
  The Solomon Islands opposition wants Fisheries Minister Nollen Leni sacked for defying a cabinet decision and voting for Japan's pro-whaling position at a conference in the Caribbean.

Cabinet had instructed Leni to abstain from this week's vote at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.

Japan won the ballot buy only one vote.

Opposition leader Fred Fono has written to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare demanding Leni's removal, saying it was a public disgrace for a minister to defy a collective decision of cabinet.

Leni's vote is the second time a Solomons fisheries minister has gone against instructions.

Last year, Fisheries Minister Paul Maenu'u was sacked by then prime minister Allan Kemakeza after he defied cabinet instructions and voted with Japan in an unsuccessful bid to overturn a ban on commercial whaling at the IWC conference in South Korea in June.

This week's vote in St Kitts went in favour of a Japanese resolution criticising the moratorium on commercial whaling and blaming whales for depleting fish stocks - it was seen as a step towards overturning the ban.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter criticised all six Pacific Island nations at the meeting for voting with Japan, saying they had let down their neighbours.

They were the Solomons, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

Japan has consistently denied it buys the votes of small nations to support its pro-whaling bid.

The Age website


Fury over Denmark’s whaling vote - 26 June
 

Denmark's decision to side with Japan and Norway during voting at the recent International Whaling Commission (IWC) event – a move which handed control of the authority to pro-whaling nations by a single vote – has been strongly criticised by WWF. The development could lead to the resumption of commercial whaling, following a two decade moratorium.

There is a widespread opinion that Japan's influence in the IWC, where it is supported by many smaller nations, is founded on financial reasons. Its long-term stance on whaling centred around the much-criticised 'scientific' approach, however the view that whales were responsible for the world’s fish stock depletion was cited this time around.

"It is absolute rubbish to suggest that whales are responsible for the depletion of fish stocks around the globe when the Japanese, the EU and many other nations are plundering the seas of fish in a way that promises to leave them all but empty," said Paul King, Director of Campaigns for WWF-UK. "The Danish Government at the IWC has undermined Europe's commitment to conservation and is a move that I have no doubt will be roundly condemned by the international community, as well as by conservation organisations".

WWF-Denmark's Chief Executive Kim Carstensen added "The vast majority of Danes are definitely against whaling and will not understand their government's decision".

Green Consumer Guide website


[France and Belgium criticized] - 21 June
 

Paris - At the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Saint Kitts and Nevis, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium strongly argued in favor of whale conservation and welfare. Their initiatives and interventions in favor of whale sanctuaries, the need to find a binding solution to the problem of scientific whaling, the protection of whales from ship-strikes, the withdrawal of Contracting Governments' right to take reservations or objections to the adoption of a revised management scheme, the promotion of the non-lethal use of cetaceans within activities such as whale-watching and other conservation and environmental issues, strongly reinforced the Commission's work on the conservation of whales.

It is therefore very disappointing that this very positive work was heavily and even aggressively criticized by pro-whaling countries who tried to divert the Commission to issues not related to its work. For example, pro-whaling Nations from the Caribbean made vociferous interventions on the floor on the colonialist history of France and Belgium and similar issues.

This hostility and this polarization of debates are inappropriate in a forum intended to decide on the adoption of international measures for the conservation and the management of whales. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (www.wdcs.org) and other groups are strongly opposed to such practices and encourage France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Belgium to continue their efforts for the conservation of whales at the IWC.

For more information contact Alice Stroud (alice.stroud@wdcs.org)

Supporting groups :

WDCS ; HSI ; EIA ; WSPA ; GSM Denmark ; Campaign Whale ; IWC ; Finns for the Whales Society ; WWF ; Robin des Bois ; Ocean Care ; ECCEA ; ILPC ; AWI

WDCS website


Larger whales take longer to die - 21 June
 

A scientific adviser to the New Zealand delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) says research shows that harpoons designed for the minke whale may be ineffective when used for the much larger fin whale.

As a consequence a second harpoon is needed to kill larger whales, they take longer to die, and are likely to suffer more, says Dr Craig Johnson.

Dr Johnson, an animal welfare researcher in the Institute of Veterinary and Animal Biomedical Sciences recently returned from the IWC meeting. He advised the delegation on a number of scientific papers presented by New Zealand researchers, including a paper co-authored by Philippa Brakes and Michael Donoghue analysing data provided by Japan's government.

The paper compares the frequency of secondary harpoons used with the size of the whales, using data on minke, Bryde's and sei whales. Secondary harpoons were required for more than 50 per cent of sei whales (the next largest to fin whales) hunted in 2003 and 2004. Data was not provided for the fin whales, but an extrapolation of data for the other three species shows the majority of fin whales would need a secondary harpoon, Dr Johnson says.

Dr Johnson says the fin whale, the second largest whale species, is the largest hunted under Japan's special permit. Last year they were hunted for the first time since the 1986 moratorium against commercial whaling and Japan has this year announced its intentions to continue hunting the species, which is commonly described as endangered.

He says the issue of whale welfare is secondary to that of ecological sustainability and the conservation of endangered species. He says some of the most useful data coming through on the status and biology of whales is that collected via non-lethal methods, from whale watchers and Southern Ocean researchers.

Massey News website


Greenpeace protesters arrested at whaling commission meeting - 21 June
  Campaigners from the envrionmental organisation Greenpeace have been arrested during a protest in the last hours of the International Whaling Commission's meeting in the Caribbean.

They used an inflatable boat to bring a thousand imitation whale tails ashore on St Kitts and Nevis.

St Kitts Police say 10 Greenpeace members will be charged with infringing immigration laws and resisting arrest.

Radio New Zealand website


Greenpeace chided over sea smash - 21 June
  Haydon Dewes

Greenpeace has retained its observer status at the International Whaling Commission but has been chided over a high seas collision in the Southern Ocean in January.

A resolution submitted yesterday by Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United States at the IWC meeting in the Caribbean said member countries did not condone dangerous protests at sea.

It was a watered-down version of a stronger earlier draft circulated by Japan that called for the conservation group's observer status to be revoked.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru were involved in a collision near Antarctica.

Two Greenpeace ships spent more than a month tailing the whaling fleet. Both sides are still blaming each other for the ocean clash.

Japan's alternate IWC commissioner Joji Morishita said : "The collision was not created by us. We are very fortunate that we have not had any injuries or even casualties by these activities".

Greenpeace spokesman John Frizell said the group was pleased no action was being taken against the group, "because we were the victims of this incident and not the instigators".

Japan held a meeting yesterday to discuss "normalising" the IWC to its original function of regulating the whaling industry, following Monday's vote to pass a declaration urging the return of commercial whaling.

Japan is planning a further meeting late this year to continue its fight to overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling, which would need the support of 75 per cent of member states.

It won Monday's vote with the aid of six Pacific Forum member countries – Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomons and Tuvalu – which Conservation Minister Chris Carter said was "profoundly disappointing".

Four had previously indicated their support for New Zealand.

The National Party's foreign affairs and conservation spokesman, Murray McCully, yesterday criticised the way Mr Carter had handled the issue and called for a revamp to New Zealand's aid strategy in the Pacific.

He said the defection of key Pacific states was the result of "a half-hearted, insufficiently focused" New Zealand strategy in the Pacific.

Stuff website


Call to tie NZ aid to whaling vote - 21 June
  Dan Eaton

National is calling for the Government to review its Pacific aid strategy after several island nations deserted New Zealand during a landmark vote at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual meeting in the Caribbean.

The suggestion by National foreign affairs spokesman Murray McCully that aid to impoverished Pacific nations should be linked to support for policies drew a sharp response from Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"The Prime Minister regards Mr McCully's comments as absolutely ridiculous," a spokeswoman for Clark said.

"New Zealand is part of a strong conservation grouping at the IWC. New Zealand is not going to buy votes. It believes in ethical aid".

Foreign Minister Winston Peters also slammed National's suggestion as "foolish" and "outrageous".

"New Zealand is held in very high esteem for the transparency and fairness of our overseas aid programme and we won't be altering our course in reaction to this issue," he said.

"The Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Palau are small Pacific countries which rely on overseas aid for development, and any reduction in our aid programmes will punish the ordinary citizens who need this assistance the most".

McCully accused Clark of being "nave".

He said Conservation Minister Chris Carter should be replaced with a minister interested in "counting heads rather than sunbathing".

The vote, held at an IWC meeting in St Kitts and Nevis last weekend, was on a Japanese-sponsored resolution stating a 20-year ban on commercial hunts was no longer necessary.

It was the first victory for the pro-whaling lobby in two decades. The Government has cried foul, accusing Japan of vote-buying.

But National said the defection of key Pacific states in the vote was the result of a "half-hearted, insufficiently focused New Zealand strategy in the Pacific".

"In spite of the so-called special relationship New Zealand enjoys with the Pacific states, Japan has marched in and bought the votes of nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomons from under our noses," McCully said.

The Pacific countries which voted with Japan received around $25 million in New Zealand aid this year.

The Solomons, at $18m, is New Zealand's biggest bilateral aid recipient and scores of Kiwi troops are serving there as part of an international security force.

"The fact that Japan received the votes of some nations that Chris Carter thought were committed to the anti-whaling cause raises serious questions about his competence as our lead negotiator," McCully said.

"The fact that the Clark government has actually created special Pacific access quotas, giving Tuvalu and Kiribati citizens privileged treatment for immigration into New Zealand, makes the defection of those two states doubly annoying".

Carter did not respond to a request for comment.

He has also come under fire from the High North Alliance, which represents pro-whaling groups in Norway, Iceland and Greenland.

Alliance secretary Rune Frovik said the New Zealand IWC delegation's "extremist" anti-whaling stance meant it was no longer being taken seriously by the commission and was fast becoming irrelevant. "My point is simply that if we are to work out a compromise solution, then we must be on the same planet," Frovik said.

"The problem with New Zealand is that it is not. It is on a completely different planet".

Stuff website


Japan's IWC win puts whale on the menu - 20 June
  Shane McLeod

Hamish Robertson : Yesterday's symbolic win by Japan at the International Whaling Commission appears to be re-kindling interest in whale meat as food.

Some restaurants in Tokyo say they've had a number of first time customers whose interest has been aroused by media coverage of the vote.

But they say that unless whale meat becomes cheaper, and a lot more available, they don't expect it to become significantly more popular in the near future.

Shane McLeod reports.

Shane McLeod It's time to clean up for Kozo Yoshimura (phonetic) and his family. Their restaurant in Tokyo's busy Shinjuku district has just completed lunch. Theirs is a restaurant that specialises in whale.

(Sound of Kozo Yoshimura speaking)

"There's whale sashimi," Mr Yoshimura tells me, whale steak, fried whale meat, whale sushi, deep fried whale and whale snacks, whale bacon and another one called whale tang.

A regular lunchtime might see 20 or 30 customers though the door.

Mr Yoshimura has been in the restaurant trade for 30 years, but specialising in whale for only five.

(Sound of Kozo Yoshimura speaking)

''It's actually not that popular," Mr Yoshimura says. "Most customers have no experience of whale meat. If they think it's delicious, then it will become more popular. If they don't think it's delicious, then it won't".

Unusually for deliberations at the International Whaling Commission, the win by Japan's delegation has received some high profile media coverage.

Mr Yoshimura says that's brought a few more customers through the door. But he doesn't think there'd be much demand for the resumption of commercial whaling.

(Sound of Kozo Yoshimura speaking)

"It's only when this kind of meeting is held and the media reports on it, that people show any curiosity to taste it. But really there's not that much potential interest in eating it. We're not that busy, and we're only using the scientific by-product.

"You'd need time to bring up people who eat whale meat, before you commercialise it".

Shane McLeod : Around the corner, in one of Tokyo's best known nightclub districts, the staff at this isakaya bar are preparing for a busy night.

(Sound of telephone ringing)

The phone rings with bookings, as the staff prepare some of the menu's specialties, many of which involve whale.

(Sound of staff preparing food and talking)

"This is Geiniku, whale stomach meat," this chef tells me. It looks a lot like a slab of fat, with occasional spots of red. Sliced up thinly, it becomes whale sushi.

The bar's manager, Shanitsi Arita (phonetic), has worked here for more than 30 years. He says there are devoted fans of whale meat, and he says the controversy over Japan's whaling programs makes little impact.

(Sound of Shanitsi Arita speaking)

"The Japanese have a strong attachment to marine products and seafood," he says. "People in other countries probably don't understand it".

But he also says he wouldn't expect there to be much demand for whale if the commercial industry was restarted.

(Sound of Shanitsi Arita speaking)

"It could drop the price of whale meat, if the supply increased," he says. "But it's been a long time since it was available to Japanese people as a daily meal. There are lots of young people who have never eaten it.

"If it was allowed then older people might start eating it again, and think about the old days. But I wonder how many people would buy it at the shop to cook it at home".

Mr Arita may have a vested interest in not too many of them doing that. He'd no doubt prefer they went to his bar, and ate it there instead.

This is Shane McLeod in Tokyo, for PM.

ABC website


IWC cites whale watching as growing industry for many islands - 20 June
  Whale watching has emerged as an industry growing "strongly" in the Pacific Islands region, says a new preliminary independent report released today by Australia at the 58th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St Kitts.

The preliminary findings show that the region's whale watching activities have increased 45% for the period 1998-2005, with a total of 109,540 whale watchers in 2005 alone. The report also found that the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Guam experienced the strongest annual average growth rates ; and that new whale watching operations have emerged recently in Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Ian Campbell said : "I have seen the build up, from a standing start, of Australia’s whale watching industry. Having just completed my third visit to the Pacific, I am delighted to see it now beginning to build up there. The employment and economic benefits have the potential to transform lives and nations. Japan's JARPA II whale hunt could destroy any hope of this opportunity".

IFAW Asia Pacific Regional Director Mick McIntyre said : "Whale watching is a win-win solution for whales and people in the Pacific Island Region, bringing terrific economic opportunities to these coastal communities. It's the 21st century alternative to whaling - a truly sustainable use of whales".

Ecolarge, an independent economic research and consulting firm based in Sydney, Australia, prepared the report; which was supported by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), South Pacific Tourism Organisation, and the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium.  A copy of the preliminary report is available on the IFAW website at www.ifaw.org.au

IFAW is calling on IWC members to take a strong stand against commercial whaling at this year's meeting. To make your voice heard in support of whales, visit www.ifaw.org.au today.

Pacific Magazine website


NZ urged to better protect dolphins - 20 June
  A committee of the International Whaling Commission has called on New Zealand to offer dolphins and whales more protection from the impact of tourism.

The Commission's Scientific Committee was presented with a research paper from Otago University which says bottlenose dolphins in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, are going into new fiords to try to avoid tour boats.

The paper says the extra energy they use to do that is resulting in fewer successful pregnancies and the death of young calves.

The IWC committee recommended New Zealand urgently increase protection for bottlenose dolphins.

It said until there is evidence dolphins and whales aren't negatively affected by the tours New Zealand should assume it is possible.

But, cruise operators in Doubtful Sound say they are operating in accordance with government regulations, which are there to protect the environment.

Chief executive of Real Journeys, Dave Hawkey, says the research is not conclusive and says the matter is really between the researchers and the Department of Conservation.

TVNZ website


How Japan's thirst for whale-blood bought prosperity to St Kitts - 20 June
 

David McNeill and Michael McCarthy

It is spanking new, the fisheries centre in the tranquil harbour of St Kitts in the West Indies, where small boats were bobbing at anchor in the sunshine yesterday. One warehouse has already been built, while the shell of a larger new building is taking shape. And no attempt is being made to hide who is paying for it.

A Japanese flag, fluttering alongside the flag of St Kitts and Nevis, informs passers-by the project for fisheries development is being funded by the Japanese government.

The Independent Online website


New Zealand disappointed Pacific countries voted for pro-whaling resolution - 19 June
  The New Zealand Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, says all six Pacific Island countries at an International Whaling Commission meeting have voted in favour of a pro-whaling resolution.

The Japanese resolution, which passed by 33 votes to 32 with one abstention, criticises the moratorium on commercial whaling, blames whales for depleting fish stocks, and says non-governmental organisations are a threat.

Mr Carter says the IWC Pacific members of Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, have let down their neighbours in the Pacific.

He says New Zealand has often gone the extra mile for many of these countries and today they have not reciprocated.

The minister, who's in St Kitts where the vote took place, says he’s disappointed that they voted with Japan.

"I am surprised by it and particularly disappointed that all six of the Pacific Island nations that are here, all voted for the Japanese proposal. I was told by Pacific leaders that they would never agree to the resumption of commercial whaling but that’s essentially what their delegates did today".

Although the resolution is not binding, Mr Carter believes it sets the stage for Japan to eventually get the ban on commercial whaling lifted.

A vote to lift the ban would require a 75 percent majority.

The Solomon Islands vote is at odds with what the government has stated that it would do.

The prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says the cabinet directed the Minister of Fisheries, Nollen Leni, on two issues ; that of commercial whaling and scientific whaling.

He says that the cabinet told Mr Leni specifically that he should abstain from voting.

"The minister was advised to abstain from those two issues so if the votes were related to those two issues, then our position was to abstain".

This is the second time that the Solomon Islands government has said publicly that it would abstain from voting but its representative has gone ahead and voted with Japan.

Radio New Zealand website


Fight to cut whaling fee - 19 June
  St Vincent pays more than France to hunt whales

Eastern Caribbean islands have united to lobby for lower annual fees paid to the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Ray Gambell, a former IWC secretary, said that the challenge for Eastern Caribbean IWC member-states pressing for a reduction in their fees would be to persuade a majority of commission members to back their proposal.

Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent have been battling for years to get the IWC to change its fee structure.

Under the present system, St Vincent, a whaling nation, pays more than France, despite the latter being a major industrialised country.

Discussion

The issue is presently up for discussion as the commission holds its plenary conference in Basseterre, St Kitts. The conference ends this week.

"The funding of the organisation has always been a difficult issue," said Gambell. "When it was first established there were equal shares among the member governments. As time has gone on, more governments have come in from the original 15 or 16. Clearly, some of those have different capacities to pay their contributions". He continued : "There have been many attempts to find a way of making it more equitable. That is something that is going to go on. It is very difficult to find a system that satisfies everyone".

He pointed out that it was crucial to gain the support of the other member states. "Any government has the possibility of stating its position, but it has to persuade everybody else if it wants to make a change," he pointed out.

Many of the Eastern Caribbean islands were persuaded to join the IWC to end commercial whaling by voting for the moratorium.

"They were encouraged to do that by non-governmental organisations and that was the start of the whole system, that the decision to prohibit commercial whaling was brought about by getting a number of governments to come in who previously had not been in the commission," recalled Gambell.

"That's how the three-quarters majority was achieved".

Many eastern Caribbean states retain strong links with the IWC as they are persuaded to vote on particular issues with the support of other pro-whaling nations such as Japan.

In an interview with The Voice last month, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that Caribbean states were free to receive endorsements from nations such as Japan, but made their own decisions at the end of the day.

The Voice website


Japan faces whale 'cruelty' claim - 18 June
  Richard Black

Australia is to present what it says is proof that Japan's scientific whaling programme is cruel, to the meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

Environmentalists who filmed Japanese boats whaling in the Antarctic say that some animals took 30 minutes to die. Japan says these cases are exceptions.

Caribbean nations have criticised the West for a "colonial" attitude.

Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell is due to present the report during Sunday's deliberations.

Early sessions on Sunday saw a fourth straight defeat for Japan, this time on a motion calling for the abolition of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

Japan currently conducts "scientific" whaling there as it is permitted to do under IWC rules, but commercial hunting in the Antarctic would not be possible while the sanctuary exists.

Time to death

During the last Antarctic whaling season, which saw a doubling of Japan's annual "scientific" catch to just over 1,000, Greenpeace filmed a number of kills at close range.

The footage has now been analysed by scientists working with another conservation group, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).

"We found that for one whale the time to death was over half an hour; we found that the average time to death was 10 minutes," said Ifaw's Vassili Papastavrou, "and in two out of the 16 occasions, asphyxiation was the likely form of death".

The whales were asphyxiated, he said, because harpoons entered their bodies near the tail and the animals were held upside down in the water.

"Back in the 1950s, it was recognised that whaling was inhumane, and really nothing very much has changed since then," Mr Papastavrou told BBC News.

"It's simply impossible for the harpooner to hit the whale close enough to the brain to ensure a reliable clean kill in all cases".

Japan maintains these examples are the exception rather than the rule.

"The time to death for the majority of whales is less than 30 seconds," said Glenn Inwood, a spokesman for the Japanese delegation.

"Japan takes the issue of time to death very seriously, and is working together with Norway to improve the humane side of whaling".

The IWC does not have firm guidelines on time to death ; but a past chair of its scientific committee, Doug DeMaster from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), said the general goal was "insensibility as soon as possible".

Australia's environment minister Ian Campbell described the footage as "absolutely inhumane and quite disgusting.

"It is a horrendous thing... it is absolutely abysmal, it is wrong and it has to stop," he told reporters.

Japan's deputy whaling commissioner Joji Morishita countered by pinpointing Australia's annual cull of millions of kangaroos.

"I just wonder if the minister knows how long it will take for kangaroos to die in his country?" he said.

'New colonialism'

Representatives from five Caribbean states and two African nations castigated Western nations over what they labelled a "colonial attitude".

The self-styled "pro-conservation" bloc, informally led by Australia, New Zealand and the US, has regularly said that Caribbean states vote with Japan because they are instructed to do so as a condition of receiving Japanese aid.

Japan has equally regularly refuted the allegation ; and in a news conference on Sunday, the Caribbean delegates went on the offensive.

"Poor black countries are treated differently; it is a shame that race has to come into it in 2006, but it all goes back to when we were colonised," said Claris Charles, minister of education and labour for Grenada and a former whaling commissioner for the Caribbean state.

"I am sure that at some point in time that if the very countries which state 'whales should not be used' were to find some way in which whales can contribute to their national economies, they will sing a different song; so let us not be hypocritical here".

There was specific criticism for Britain's Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw.

Before the IWC meeting, he suggested that western consumers might begin taking the positions of Caribbean nations on whaling into account when planning where to spend their money.

"It is the people who will ultimately decide if they believe that killing endangered species is acceptable," he told reporters.

"People's consciousness has been raised on environmental issues and they will vote, no doubt, through the consumer choices they make".

Ignatius Jean, St Lucia's environment minister, said this amounted to a call for economic boycott, and labelled it "economic terrorism".

Speaking to the BBC from London, Mr Bradshaw said he was not calling for a boycott. "It is important that people in all countries, including developing countries, make up their own minds," he said.

The Caribbean nations are members of a 30-strong group which has tabled a "St Kitts Declaration" calling for the IWC to move towards a resumption of commercial whaling.

A vote on the declaration is anticipated at the end of Sunday's session.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

BBC News website


Australia promises whaling fightback - 18 June
  Environmentalists today labelled a narrow win for pro-hunting nations at the International Whaling Commission meeting in the Caribbean a disaster but Australia promised to fight back.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell stressed that the vote in favour of a non-binding pro-whaling resolution "doesn't have any effect" on a 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling.

He said a "magnificent coalition" of anti-whaling nations would be formed to counter Japan's push for a resumption of commercial hunting.

Japan and other whaling nations got the commission to criticise the global ban today for the first time in more than two decades, signalling they might finally have the muscle to challenge the moratorium.

The resolution, passed by 33 votes to 32, stated that the whaling ban was no longer necessary.

It said whales were responsible for depleting fish stocks and non-governmental organisations were a "threat".

Anti-whaling Australia, which argues that whale watching is far more lucrative than whale hunting, dismissed the pro-whaling declaration today.

"It doesn't mean much in terms of the historic battle between the whalers and those of us who want to lock away the moratorium and bring an end to commercial whaling for all time," Senator Campbell said.

"... On all the substantial policy issues that were brought here that the whalers wanted to win on, they lost, and the only thing they've been able to win is what you can only call a declaration of defeat. It's a chronicle of all their frustrations," he told ABC radio.

"The challenge lies ahead of us to turn this around and build a substantial pro-conservation coalition - we've been working on this for two years, it is long, hard work," he said.

"... We have now got in place this magnificent coalition with countries like the US, Great Britain, New Zealand, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, all working together at a pace and level never seen before.

"That has started to show results this year and I'm absolutely confident it will show bigger results next year".

Japan has abided by the moratorium 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.

More than 25 000 whales have been hunted and killed since the moratorium.

Even so, Japan and its allies have sought to return the IWC to its 1946 roots as an organisation that regulates whaling and they have encouraged new pro-whaling nations to join the commission in the hope of wresting control from protectionists.

They would need 75 per cent of votes in the IWC to actually end the moratorium.

"Anti-whaling countries might see this as an ending," said Joji Morishita, Japan's spokesman at the IWC.

"This is the beginning of a new time for the IWC," Morishita said.

Rune Fervet, secretary of Norwegian pro-whaling lobby the High North Alliance, acknowledged the victory was symbolic but said it was historic.

"They've been kicking us down all the time," Fervet said.

"Now we can kick back and they are on the floor".

"This is a huge disaster," said Kitty Block of Humane Society International after the vote at a meeting of the commission in the Caribbean island state of St Kitts and Nevis.

"This is now going to be their propaganda".

Japan, which says some whale species have recovered enough to be hunted in a sustainable way, had been expected to secure a majority in St Kitts and Nevis - its first in the commission since the ban was approved in 1982.

The moratorium came into force four years later.

- With AAP and Reuters

Perth Now website


Effort to revive whaling dead : Campbell - 18 June
  Australia has declared Japan's attempt to revive commercial whaling dead for another year after the country lost a third crucial vote at an international meeting.

Conservationists and anti-whaling nations had feared the pro-whaling camp led by Japan, Norway and Iceland might have got over the line at this year's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.

But Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the strength of international opinion had kept the 20-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling in place.

"I think it's game over for this year," he told AAP from St Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean state where the meeting is being held.

"But it sends a message to the whole world that if the whole world wants to make sure this moratorium stays in place, they have to make sure that whale conservation is strengthened, not weakened.

"A lot more people are going to have to take a lot more interest in what happens at this whaling commission".

A vote on a third motion relating to a resumption of commercial whaling narrowly failed to get enough support at the IWC meeting.

Japan's proposal to allow some of its coastal communities to conduct small-scale commercial minke whale hunts was lost by 31 votes to 30.

Had the plan been accepted, however, it would have been only a symbolic victory as the whaling concerned could not have taken place since it is banned under the moratorium, which requires a three-quarters majority vote to be overturned.

Japan earlier failed to get enough support for two other key motions to introduce secret balloting at the IWC and bar members from discussing protection for smaller cetaceans such as porpoises.

Both items were considered key to Japan's attempt to establish a pro-whaling majority on the commission for the first time since the moratorium was introduced.

Senator Campbell said the closeness of the final vote on whaling in Japanese waters "worries the hell out of me and it should worry the world".

He urged more nations to support whale conservation.

"It is quite scary to think that one of the great achievements for conservation of the planet's resources could be at risk of being unravelled," he said.

"We need the support of other like-minded nations or we'll be faced with another close ballot".

Japanese delegate Joji Morishita said before the vote that a simple majority would have been "big news" for his country, and later described the outcome as a "50-50" result.

Japan has launched a final effort to get some recognition of its position from the IWC, seeking support for a proposal to return the commission to its original mandate - the regulation of whale hunts.

Senator Campbell said he would be surprised if the plan was accepted.

Japan uses a loophole in the moratorium to conduct an annual hunt of minke whales in the Southern Ocean for "scientific" purposes, but critics maintain it is a commercial hunt.

The Age website


Fierce rows rock world whaling talks - 18  June
  Anti-whaling nations sent Japan crashing to a third straight defeat at world whale talks soured by rows over cruelty and the moratorium on commercial hunts.

Japan did however came close to pulling off a symbolic victory in a vote on one type of for-profit slaughter, and predicted it was closer than ever before to enshrining a pro-whaling majority at the International Whaling Commission.

Australia meanwhile ignited a new row with Tokyo, branding Japan's whale hunters "inhumane" and "disgusting" while environmentalists, who entered the five-day talks fearing a Japanese power grab, were buoyant.

"It's Whales three, Japan nil," Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said after the IWC voted 31 votes to 30 against Tokyo's bid to allow several of its coastal communities to hold for-profit hunts.

It would have only been an academic victory for Japan since the Minke Whale cull would have been barred anyway under a global moratorium on commercial hunting, which needs a three-quarters majority to be overturned.

But a win would have been a huge symbolic step forward for Japan, as it strives to lead pro-whaling nations to a majority on the IWC and turn the body from pure conservation to managing whale stocks for hunting.

"Double standards still prevail in this organisation," snapped Japan's alternate commissioner Joji Morishita, after the vote count was announced on the day two of the five-day meeting in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis.

Australia, which is furiously opposed to whaling, meanwhile waded into a new confrontation with Tokyo, claiming new research showed whales experienced far more agony than previously known when they were harpooned to death.

Environment minister Ian Campbell brandished a new IFAW report which he said disproved Japan's argument that its "scientific" whale hunts, allowed by the IWC, were humane.

"This is how Japan in the name of science collects whale meat, takes it back to Japan, sticks it in warehouses, tries to get schoolchildren to eat it, gets old people to eat it now, and we also know from some evidence that they feed it to dogs," he said.

"It is a horrendous thing ... it is absolutely abysmal, it is wrong and it has to stop".

Japan denies it uses surplus whale meat as dog food and also rejects claims it cajoles its people into eating whale meat for political reasons.

Campbell said the report, drawn from publicly available video footage of Japanese whale hunts, showed the way whales were killed was "absolutely inhumane and quite disgusting".

Morishita hit back that Japan's whale killing was "the most humane way, it is proved by science".

"I just wonder if the minister knows how long it will take for kangaroos to die in his country?" referring to attempts to control the marsupials seen as pests in parts of Australia.

Another Japanese official, Akira Nakamae, deputy director general of the Fisheries Agency of Japan, accused Campbell of "ungentlemanly conduct".

"It is bad manners and it will downgrade his country's standing in the international community," Nakamae said.

The IFAW report claims that more than 80 percent of whales were not killed instantly, once harpooned. It also said some whales were asphyxiated after failing to die from a harpoon blow, and having their blow holes forced underwater.

Japan earlier unveiled its new bid to return the IWC to its original mandate, of conserving whales so that they can be hunted in a sustainable way.

"Whales should be treated as any other marine living resource available for harvesting subject to conservation and science based management," said a Japanese briefing document on the plan known as "normalization".

Tokyo also proposed a meeting outside the IWC, before next year's talks in Alaska, to discuss how to turn the body away from pure conservation - to "managing" sustainable whale hunts.

But New Zealand led opposition to Japan's move, saying it was out of step with modern attitudes, and would send the cause of whale conservation back to 1946 - the year the IWC was formed to stop whales passing into extinction.

"What they want to do is have a whaler's club again," said Kitty Block of Humane Society International, a non governmental organisation.

Though Japan lost two earlier votes on Friday on the commission, Nakamae said Tokyo was still hopeful it would lay down a pro-whaling majority in later votes before the conference ends Tuesday.

Currently, Japan and Iceland conduct "scientific whaling", which is permitted by the IWC. Norway rejects the moratorium entirely. In all, around 2 000 whales are killed globally per year by the three.

Turkish Press website


Factbox : Voting at the International Whaling Commission - 18 June
  Japan has come within a hair's breadth of winning key votes at the June 16-20 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in St Kitts and Nevis, but failed so far to secure a pro-whaling majority.

The first vote, proposed by Japan, was to prevent the IWC from discussing the fate of dolphins, porpoises, small whales and great whales. Japan lost 30-32, with one abstention.

The second vote, also proposed by Japan, was to introduce secret balloting. It lost that vote 30-33, with one abstention.

The third vote, which would have allowed Japanese coastal communities to hunt a limited number of whales - effectively circumventing the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling - was lost by 30 votes to 31, with four abstentions.

On Sunday Japan lost a fourth vote when it proposed eliminating a Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, for which it needed and did not expect a three-quarters majority. Japan had hoped to at least win a simple majority but lost 28-33, with four abstentions.

The votes of each country follow :

Vote 1 Vote 2 Vote 3 Vote 4
Antigua & Barbuda Yes Yes Yes Yes
Argentina No No No No
Australia No No No No
Austria No No No No
Belgium No No No No
Belize No No No No
Benin Yes Yes Yes Yes
Brazil No No No No
Cambodia Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cameroon Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chile No No No No
China Yes Yes Abstain Yes
Costa Rica -- -- -- --
Cote D'Ivoire Yes Yes Yes --
Czech Republic No No No No
Denmark Abstain No Yes No
Dominica Yes Yes Yes Yes
Finland No No No No
France No No No No
Gabon Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gambia -- Yes Yes Yes
Germany No No No No
Grenada Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guatemala -- -- -- --
Guinea Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hungary No No No No
Iceland Yes Yes Yes Yes
India No No No No
Ireland No No No No
Israel No No No No
Italy No No No No
Japan Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kenya -- -- -- --
Kiribati Yes Yes Abstain Yes
Korea Yes Yes Abstain Abstain
Luxembourg No No No No
Mali Yes Yes Yes Yes
Marshall Islands Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mauritania Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mexico No No No No
Monaco No No No No
Mongolia Yes Yes Yes Yes
Morocco Yes Yes Yes Abstain
Nauru Yes Yes Yes Yes
Netherlands No No No No
New Zealand No No No No
Nicaragua Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oman No No Yes No
Palau Yes Yes Yes Yes
Panama No No No No
Peru -- -- -- --
Portugal No No No No
Russia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Kitts and Nevis Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Lucia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Vincent & Grenadines Yes Yes Yes Abstain
San Marino No No No No
Senegal -- -- -- Yes
Slovak Republic No No No No
Solomon Islands Yes Abstain Abstain Yes
South Africa No No No No
Spain No No No No
Suriname Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sweden No No No No
Switzerland No No No No
Togo -- -- Yes Yes
Tuvalu Yes Yes Yes Abstain
UK No No No No
USA No No No No No No No No
France No No No No
Gabon Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gambia -- Yes Yes Yes
Germany No No No No
Grenada Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guatemala -- -- -- --
Guinea Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hungary No No No No
Iceland Yes Yes Yes Yes
India No No No No
Ireland No No No No
Israel No No No No
Italy No No No No
Japan Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kenya -- -- -- --
Kiribati Yes Yes Abstain Yes
Korea Yes Yes Abstain Abstain
Luxembourg No No No No
Mali Yes Yes Yes Yes
Marshall Islands Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mauritania Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mexico No No No No
Monaco No No No No
Mongolia Yes Yes Yes Yes
Morocco Yes Yes Yes Abstain
Nauru Yes Yes Yes Yes
Netherlands No No No No
New Zealand No No No No
Nicaragua Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oman No No Yes No
Palau Yes Yes Yes Yes
Panama No No No No
Peru -- -- -- --
Portugal No No No No
Russia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Kitts and Nevis Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Lucia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Vincent & Grenadines Yes Yes Yes Abstain
San Marino No No No No Senegal -- -- --
Yes Slovak Republic No No No No
Solomon Islands Yes Abstain Abstain Yes
South Africa No No No No
Spain No No No No
Suriname Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sweden No No No No
Switzerland No No No No
Togo -- -- Yes Yes
Tuvalu Yes Yes Yes Abstain
UK No No No No
USA No No No Noes Yes
Marshall Islands Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mauritania Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mexico No No No No
Monaco No No No No
Mongolia Yes Yes Yes Yes
Morocco Yes Yes Yes
Abstain Nauru Yes Yes Yes Yes
Netherlands No No No No
New Zealand No No No No
Nicaragua Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oman No No Yes No
Palau Yes Yes Yes Yes
Panama No No No No
Peru -- -- -- --
Portugal No No No No
Russia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Kitts and Nevis Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Lucia Yes Yes Yes Yes
St Vincent & Grenadines Yes Yes Yes
Abstain San Marino No No No No
Senegal -- -- -- Yes
Slovak Republic No No No No
Solomon Islands Yes Abstain Abstain Yes
South Africa No No No No
Spain No No No No
Suriname Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sweden No No No No
Switzerland No No No No
Togo -- -- Yes Yes
Tuvalu Yes Yes Yes Abstain
UK No No No No
USA No No No No
t & Grenadines Yes Yes Yes Abstain
San Marino No No No No
Senegal -- -- -- Yes
Slovak Republic No No No No
Solomon Islands Yes Abstain Abstain Yes
South Africa No No No No
Spain No No No No
Suriname Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sweden No No No No
Switzerland No No No No
Togo -- -- Yes Yes
Tuvalu Yes Yes Yes Abstain
UK No No No No
USA No No No No

Note : -- denotes that the country did not vote. (Reporting by Michael Christie from Frigate Bay, St Kitts and Nevis)

Reuters website


Japan loses bid to resume commercial whaling - 18 June
 

Frigate Bay, St Kitts - The pro-conservation coalition has won all the major votes at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting here, defeating pro-whaling efforts by Japan and its allies to increase whaling. But the votes were so close in the 70 member commission that neither side can claim permanent victory.

In the first vote, Japan proposed that the agenda be amended so that there could be no discussion in the IWC with regards to small cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises. The proposal failed, with 30 votes for, 32 votes against, and one abstention.

Japan's perennial proposal that all votes of the IWC should be taken by secret ballots also failed, with 30 for, 33 against, and one abstention.

On the third vote, Japan proposed that the IWC allow their small coastal communities to kill minke whales. The proposal failed with 30 for, 31 against, and four abstentions. As an amendment to the IWC Schedule, Japan needed a vote of 75 percent of the IWC members to prevail.

The four countries that abstained from the vote - China, Kirbati, South Korea, and the Solomon Islands - have voted in favor of Japan’s positions in the past.

Joji Morishita, spokesman for the Japanese delegation, said the Japanese were glad it was not a secret ballot. "Japan will remember which countries supported this proposal and which countries said no," he said.

Japan then removed from the agenda a proposal to have coastal whalers be permitted to kill Bryde's whales, knowing that it too would fail.

On Japan's proposal that the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary be abolished, the vote was only 28 for, and 33 against, with four abstentions. A two thirds majority was needed to pass the measure.

The IWC adopted a non-binding declaration proposed by 30 pro-whaling members - the St Kitts and Nevis Declaration. The declaration supports the pro-whaling agenda and states that the IWC will collapse unless whaling resumes. It does not propose a course of action and has no effect on the workings of the commission.

A Japanese delegate called adoption of the declaration "a big step forward." Japan's chief delegate Minoru Morimoto said, "It is very satisfactory that a declaration which supports our efforts to normalize the IWC has been adopted." To Japan, "normalize" means the resumption of whaling. A global moratorium was imposed by the IWC in 1986.

But Australian Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell, who is leading his county's IWC delegation, called the St Kitts and Nevis Declaration, "a toothless statement of frustration."

The declaration says the use of cetaceans in many countries contributes to food security and poverty reduction, while stressing that "the use of marine resources as an integral part of development options is critically important at this time for a number of countries experiencing the need to diversify their agriculture".

Despite having gained 33 votes in favor, 32 votes against, and one abstention, several governments are challenging the validity of the vote.

Many governments declared their opposition to the declaration, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China abstained.

Conservationists in St Kitts to observe the IWC meeting criticized the declaration and the process the pro-whaling nations used to bring it to a vote.

"This amounts to a sneak attack on the IWC," said Dr Joth Singh, director of wildlife and habitat protection with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

"After losing on every single proposal they brought to this meeting, the whaling countries and their supporters cooked up a non-binding statement, sprang it on the commission and pushed it to a vote," said Singh. "They want to kill whales, and they’re willing to kill the Commission to do it. But this is no death blow, just a stinging flesh wound".

Japan conducts annual whale hunts in the Southern Ocean and in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, saying they are killing whales for scientific research, which is permitted under the IWC regulations. The Japanese attempt to sell the meat from their whale research, but it is failing to move the tons of whale meat produced by the taking of up to 900 whales each year.

Each year, the pro-conservation nations condemn the practice, and they did so again this year.

"I can't understand it," said Ben Bradshaw, Britain's Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare. "We are a  great friend and ally of Japan in almost every other field. And it is completely inexplicable to me that Japan, Norway, and Iceland continue to push for a resumption of commercial whaling".

"That hugely damages their international reputations," Bradshaw said. "The whale meat is stacking up in huge freezers in these countries because they can't sell it. I can only
think that it is about a kind of culturally nationalistic obstinacy that makes them pursue this course".

"The votes we have won at this meeting are a significant achievement for whales and whale protection," said Australian Environment Minister Campbell.

"This year we have kept the balance in favor of whale protection, however, the passage of a non-binding declaration by pro-whaling nations at today's meeting, though toothless, is a wake-up call to the world," Campbell said.

Campbell said whale protection "is not a sprint – it is a marathon. "We need to strengthen our resolve and vigor and we need more effort, more organization and more resources to underpin our commitment to permanent global whale protection. Australia and the pro-conservation coalition will not give up the fight," he said.

On Friday, the IWC received new information from its Scientific Committee report on Antarctic minke whales, North Pacific common minke whales, Southern Hemisphere humpback whales, Southern Hemisphere blue whales and a number of other small populations of bowhead, right and gray whales.

There was some positive evidence of increases in abundance for several of the populations of humpback, blue and right whales in the Southern Hemisphere, although they remain at reduced levels compared to their pre-whaling numbers, the IWC said. Information remains lacking for other populations.

Special attention was paid to the status of the endangered western North Pacific gray whale, whose feeding grounds coincide with oil and gas operations off Russia's Sakhalin Island.

"The population numbers only about 122 animals," the Scientific Committee said, "and although there is evidence that it has been increasing at perhaps three percent per year over the last decade, any additional deaths, for example in fishing gear as has recently occurred, put the survival of the population in doubt".

Confrontation over Southern Ocean whaling shapes up for Austral summer 2006-2007

Greenpeace announced on Friday that it intends to return to the Southern Ocean this year "to oppose Japan’s continued 'scientific hunt' which will target 935 minke whales and 10 endangered fin whales".

"Whaling history may not have been rewritten this year but it was too close for comfort. The anti-whaling countries must see this as a wake-up call and add action to their rhetoric about protecting whales," said Shane Rattenbury, head of the Greenpeace International Oceans Campaign.

"This year Greenpeace will once again challenge the whalers on the high seas, the question is what are the anti-whaling countries prepared to do?" challenged Rattenbury.

The Sea Shepherd also plans to be in the Southern Ocean confronting the Japanese whalers.

Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson said, "Japan will not make any gains this year at the IWC and for another year at least the whales are safe on paper under the law. However the renegade illegal activities of Japan and Norway will continue and once again we must voyage to the remote and hostile waters of the Southern Oceans to search out and stop the illegal slaughter.

"Japan’s failure to control the IWC keeps the legal credibility for our intervention solidly in our court," said Watson. "Once again we will be hunting criminal whalers in Antarctic waters".

Although Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd will both send ships to block Japanese whalers, and both groups sent ships to the Southern Ocean last year, the two organizations are not cooperating in this campaign.

Watson says the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society approached Greenpeace in June 2005 with a request to work in partnership to jointly oppose Japanese whaling in the Southern Oceans. "Greenpeace refused to communicate with Sea Shepherd and took the position that Sea Shepherd crews were overly aggressive towards whaling," Watson said Friday.

"I was hoping we could play good policeman and bad policeman with the whalers," said Watson. "Greenpeace told us they were not interested in cooperation and did not support our tactics of directly interfering with the killing of whales, preferring to 'bear witness' to the killing to report it to the world".

"Once again, I am reaching out to Greenpeace, an organization  that I co-founded with the request to work together with Sea Shepherd." said Watson. "I suspect I will once again be ignored but I guess there is no harm in asking, although it troubles me that this group that I helped to create has no time for cooperation with us".

Watson's involvement with the group that was to form Greenpeace began in 1969 when he was a Sierra Club member protesting on the US and Canadian border against the nuclear testing at Alaska's Amchitka Island by the US Atomic Energy Commission. He was a crew member on one of two Greenpeace ships that sailed to Alaska in protest of the testing in 1971.

In 1974, Watson, Bob Hunter and others organized the first Greenpeace campaign to oppose whaling. In June 1975, Hunter and Watson were the first people to put their lives on the line to protect whales when Watson placed his inflatable Zodiac between a Russian harpoon vessel and a pod of sperm whales.

Sea Shepherd is not officially present at the IWC meeting because it is the only organization banned from attending. Watson says "this is due to the fact that Sea Shepherd is the only organization that directly intervenes against illegal whaling".

"We don’t protest whaling," said Sea Shepherd International Director Jonny Vasic. "We intervene against illegal whaling by acting to uphold the international treaties and regulations protecting whales".

Sea Shepherd does have unofficial representation at the IWC. This year's IWC Vice Chair Horst Kleinschmidt of South Africa, is a director of the Sea Shepherd in South Africa and a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's International Advisory Board.

Although the Japanese have not won any major votes at the IWC meeting, conservationists in Frigate Bay say they cannot relax.

"We are gravely concerned, but not disheartened," said Singh of IFAW. "The moratorium on commercial whaling remains and we may see further shifts in voting at this very meeting later this week. Whatever happens here in the coming days, we will  continue working inside and outside the IWC to build a better world for animals and people and to protect whales for future generations to see".

The IWC meeting continues in St Kitts through Tuesday. For next year, the commission accepted Chile's offer to host the annual meeting.

Questions or comments : news@ens-news.com

Environment News Service website


Solomon Islands : joints anti-whaling vote - 18 June
  (Radio Australia) - Solomon Islands has helped deliver Australia a major victory on the first day of hearings at the international whaling commission meeting.

Sarah Clarke reports from St Kitts , last year the Solomon islands voted with japan on key votes at the international whaling commission - but this year it helped block japan's plan to introduce secret ballots and remove a key item from the agenda.

Other pacific nations including Tuvalu, Palau, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands gave their vote to the pro-whaling camp.

The second day of IWC hearings begins today.

Pacific Magazine website


Pro-whalers abstain - 18 June
 

China and Korea, traditionally pro-whaling countries, have abstained from a critical vote at the International Whaling Commission conference in Saint Kitts. Japan has lost another bid to have its small coastal communities resume whaling.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter says today's victory was encouraging but Japan still holds a lot of influence. He says the next critical vote will be Japan's bid for a declaration to resume commercial whaling, expected to come at the end of the conference.

Mr Carter says countries against whaling are not out of the woods yet and will continue to lobby hard to persuade pro-whaling countries not to vote with Japan.

NZ City website


RPT-Greenland seeks to hunt humpback, bowhead whales - 17 June
  Michael Christie

Frigate Bay, St Kitts and Nevis, June 17 (Reuters) - Greenland asked an international whaling body on Saturday to examine whether it could extend whaling by its Inuit hunters to endangered humpbacks and bowheads, alarming environmentalists.

Anti-whaling nations attending an International Whaling Commission, or IWC, meeting in the Caribbean island state of St Kitts and Nevis said they were opposed to the proposal given the fragile state of most whale species.

Environmentalists also said they were puzzled by the request because Greenland has for years failed to meet a quota of minke whales and fin whales that its indigenous hunters are permitted to catch under an exemption from an international moratorium on commercial whaling.

"We'd be very concerned about extending the hunt to two new species," said British Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw.

Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 to save great whales from extinction but the IWC issues quotas to aboriginal communities which have a tradition of whale hunting.

Japan and other pro-whaling nations had been expected to take control of the IWC at this year's meeting and to begin chipping away at the global whaling ban. But anti-whaling nations including Australia and South Africa managed to retain a slim majority when the gathering began on Friday.

Amalie Jessen, an alternate IWC commissioner for Denmark and Greenland's representative in the Danish delegation, said Greenland's haul of whale meat was consistently falling 220 metric tonnes short of its 670-tonne aboriginal quota.

The ice-capped Arctic country of 65,000 people is allowed to hunt 19 fin whales and 187 minkes, a small species. It voluntarily reduced its fin whale catch to 10 after scientists at the IWC said they could not guarantee that the full quota was sustainable.

'Surprise'

Jessen said Greenland did not believe it could increase the number of minkes and fin whales that its 2,500 whale hunters kill with exploding harpoons and rifles each year without putting a strain on those species.

It therefore wanted the IWC to conduct a study about humpback and bowhead whale numbers off West Greenland to see whether those two species might fill the gap.

"Our need of 670 tonnes could come from any large whale," Jessen told Reuters, adding that Greenland's request was simply a first step and a long process of scientific evaluation would occur before the Inuit began hunting humpbacks and bowheads.

Both humpback and bowhead whales are endangered. Humpbacks, which grow to 52 ft (16 metres) and can weigh up to 45 tonnes, are thought to number between 10 000 and 15 000 worldwide.

They are only hunted legally, and controversially, by the Caribbean country of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Japan, which abides by the IWC's 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling but kills almost 1 000 minke whales a year under a scientific whaling program, has said it plans to start hunting a few humpbacks as well under the research scheme.

Bowhead whales can grow to 60 ft (18.5 metres) and weigh up to 90 tonnes. Alaska's Eskimos are allowed to kill 41 bowheads a year under an aboriginal hunting exemption.

Sue Fisher, deputy policy director in the United States for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said Greenland had a tradition of hunting humpbacks prior to the 1986 ban.

"The bowhead was a surprise," she said.

Fisher said Greenland had never taken its full quota. "So the argument that it needs more meat ... just doesn't stack up".

Reuters website


Pro-whaling nations prepare fight to reopen commercial hunting - 17 June
  Adam Raney

Pro-whaling nations led by Japan prepared Saturday to push for the resumption of commercial hunting at the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting.

Japan readied a controversial proposal to pave the way to repeal a 20-year-old ban on commercial whaling.

A second plan would allow what Tokyo calls "traditional hunting" - which critics said was merely a guise to kill whales solely for commercial purposes.

Japan and Iceland kill whales for scientific research - which critics call a sham - and sell the carcasses. Norway is the only country that ignores the moratorium and openly conducts commercial whaling. Tribal groups kill whales under commission rules that allow them to hunt the mammals for subsistence.

Joji Morishita, Japan's chief delegate to meeting on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, said the IWC was not carrying out its mandate to regulate, or "normalize," the sustainable hunting of whales.

Tokyo has threatened to leave the 70-member commission that manages whaling if the group does not ease restrictions to allow regulated commercial hunting.

"The organization is serving for political applause back home (but) should serve for responsible management," Morishita said.

But delegates from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, who oppose resumption of commercial hunting, said Japan's withdrawal from the commission was unlikely.

"That wouldn't happen. They wouldn't be taken seriously at international groups like the UN," said Australia's lead delegate, Environment Minister Ian Campbell.

Bill Hogarth, head of the U.S. delegation, said the United States remained staunchly opposed to a resumption of commercial hunting, but that the commission had to find common ground.

"We must find a way forward," he said.

The push to ease restrictions on whaling for consumption concerns environmentalists who fear Japan may win a slim majority if its plan reaches the floor.

But Stefan Asmundsson, Iceland's head delegate to the commission, said Japan's proposal to ease restrictions on hunting would be regulated by sustainable quotas.

"No one is saying we want to hunt endangered whales. But wanting to protect whales that are abundant is animal rights activism, not environmentalism," Asmundsson said.

Morishita said Japan must first get countries to agree to regulated hunting before any change in their whaling policy was made.

Brazil is open to compromising with Tokyo, but not until it stops all scientific whaling, "which we all know is commercial whaling," said Jose Truda Palazzo, a leading Brazilian delegate.

Japan and other pro-whaling nations narrowly lost two key votes at the meeting Friday.

Commission members voted 33-30 against a proposal by Japan for secret ballots so that nations could back its pro-whaling stance without fear of retribution. It also voted 32-30 against a proposal to remove from the agenda the hunting of dolphins and porpoises, which are not regulated by the commission.

Anchorage Daily News website


Whalers poised to seize control of the International Whaling Commission - 14 June
 

Whale lovers around the world are holding their breath as the 58th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) prepares to get underway on the Caribbean island of St Kitts this Friday. There's a good chance that the IWC, charged by the United Nations with protecting whales, is about to be taken over by the world's most consistently and aggressively pro-whaling government - Japan.

A moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986 when research showed that many species were being decimated, Japan, Norway and Iceland have exploited loopholes in the legislation to allow 'scientific' whaling. Between them they kill around 2,000 whales a year in the name of spurious science - although the meat from these kills is sold commercially.

Ever since its introduction Japan has been fighting to get the moratorium overturned. Since thankfully there are so few genuine whaling nations left in the world the Japanese have adopted a different approach : giving foreign aid to any countries who will apply for membership of IWC and the support them on the issue. While the Japanese government categorically denies any suggestions that they might be buying votes, the number of countries who have signed up to support them at the IWC after receiving Japanese aid tells a different story. Most of their new found supporters are poor nations with no whaling history but an urgent need for foreign investment - some, like Mali in West Africa, don't even have any coastline.

Japan came very close last year to gaining a simple majority among the Commission's members. If they succeed this year, they will not be able to overturn the moratorium (a 75% majority is needed for that), but they are likely to hurl a large spanner into the IWC's planned conservation works, removing measures to protect whales, forcing resolutions to endorse their 'scientific' whaling programme and calling on CITES (the convention for the Trade in Endangered Species) to lift its ban onhunting minke whales.

Between them Japan, Iceland and Norway are killing around 2 000 whales a year - in the name of spurious science

If Japan wins this Friday's vote, the consequences for the world's remaining whale populations will be devastating. This is a wake up call for the world's anti-whaling governments for failing to effectively oppose Japan's hostile take-over of the IWC - we now need high-level political action from anti-whaling countries to defend the interests of whales.

Some of the governments that helped enact the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (1994) and moratorium on commercial whaling (1986) have, in fact, spoken out against Japan. This past year 17 nations (including Brazil, Australia and the UK) issued a strongly worded diplomatic demarche pointing out :

"Japan is now killing more whales in the Antarctic every year than it killed for scientific research in the 31 years prior to the introduction of the moratorium on commercial whaling".

The governments further expressed "grave concerns" that the ongoing hunt, "will undermine the long-term viability," of both fin and humpback whales.

But it looks like this strong diplomatic action, and ministerial level visits to some new IWC members, will not be enough to prevent Japan taking over. The reality is that the Japanese government has chosen to spend more money and political capital on whaling than the governments who favour protecting whales. There is on some levels probably a disbelief that the whalers can win back control of the IWC - intuitively it just doesn't make sense considering the mess they made of it before sanity prevailed in the early eighties. But for years now the warning signs have been clear. No matter what happens at this year's meeting, it should be a wake up call for the conservation minded governments of the world.

Greenpeace website


Contributions to this bulletin were made by the Librarians and Information Manager of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society, and Marina Rubidge (Librarian - Jowell Glyn and Marais, Johannesburg)

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