From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1994:

INGTON D.C.––As whale defenders cheered the May 26 cre-
ation of the Southern Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica, the
International Whaling Commission on May 27 unanimously
approved a U.S. motion to provisionally accept the Revised
Management Plan, a formula for setting renewed commercial
whaling quotas. Mexico, Ireland, and India voiced reserva-
tions but did not formally oppose the consensus.
The Southern Whale Sanctuary starts at the 40th par-
allel south latitude, dipping to the 55th parallel around the
lower tip of South America. It connects with the extant Indian
Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Although the IWC has no policing
power, the sanctuary designation means that whaling is per-
manently illegal in approximately half of the world’s waters,
protecting––on paper––about 80% of the surviving baleen
whales, an estimated 80% of the time.

The RMP, meanwhile, is the key component of a
Revised Management Scheme that would reopen commercial
whaling north of the 40th parallel, where whales are far fewer
and most species are believed to be still at risk of extinction.
The adoption of the RMP, under strong U.S. pressure, leaves
the IWC perhaps less than a year away from ending the mora-
torium on commercial whaling adopted in 1982, which took
effect in 1986 and was officially honored by Japan in 1988.
Although both Norway and Japan continue killing minke
whales for “research” and selling the meat, whales have been
killed for acknowledged commercial purposes during the past
six years only by Iceland, which withdrew from the IWC in
1990, and Norway, which resumed commercial whaling in
1993, defying the moratorium.
Yet to be resolved is how compliance with the RMP
will be monitored. This could be settled as early as January
1995, at a special IWC technical session to be held in
Tromso, Norway––reportedly arranged through the interven-
tion of U.S. vice president Albert Gore. Gene Buck of the
Congressional Research Service estimated that commercial
whaling could resume by 1996, and will resume by 2006.
“Adoption of the RMP is bad news,” assessed
Christine Stevens, president of the Animal Welfare Institute.
“Tromso’s location, in the farthest northern reaches of
Norway, and the timing of the intersessional meeting in the
depths of winter, are hardly calculated to attract nongovern-
mental organizations friendly to whales.”
Blood and Gore
“Gore sold us out,” said Craig Van Nolte of
Monitor, a Washington D.C.-based information service for
animal and habitat protection groups. Sam Labudde of Earth
Island Institute used almost the same words. Both cited the
transcript of an October 5, 1993 meeting between Gore and
Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
“Can we work on and achieve an RMS in 1994?”
Gore asked.
“Yes, but with a condition,” Brundtland replied.
“We cannot work within the IWC to determine an RMS, but
then allow someone using legal loopholes to block acceptance
and retain the moratorium.”
Responded Gore, “We will enter this process with
you in good faith, and will not pull a ‘fast one’ at the end.
We will continue to give you a candid assessment of the
issues and also the pathway to proceed in resolving the issue.”
The exchange directly contradicted the stated belief
of Greenpeace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare,
and the World Wildlife Fund––rescinded in the latter case––
that provisional approval of the RMP would not constitute a
fast track to resumed commercial whaling. The three groups
argued before the IWC meeting that despite the passage of the
RMP, commercial whaling can still be indefinitely delayed
by the disagreements over monitoring. Greenpeace and
IFAW continue to hold that position.
As expected, Greenpeace and IFAW took a dive
during the RMP debate, while the World Wildlife Fund
joined virtually all other animal protection groups in reserva-
tion to the RMP too late to alter the outcome. A strategy of
conceding the RMP in trade for U.S. support for the Southern
Whale Sanctuary was detailed in a Greenpeace internal docu-
ment dated March 29. Leaked by dissenting staffers, the
contents of the document were disclosed by The London
O b s e r v e r and ANIMAL PEOPLE during the month before
the IWC convened. Although Greenpeace has been identified
with whale-saving since it was founded in 1971, the docu-
ment pledged Greenpeace would not “stand in the way of the
RMP’s provisional adoption.” It asserted that “Greenpeace
does not oppose whaling, in principle,” adding for emphasis
that, “Greenpeace is neither for nor against the killing of
marine mammals.”
After the London Observer expose, IFAW––whose
scientific advisor, Sydney Holt, helped draft the
RMP––openly acknowledged a similar strategic posture.
WWF initially took the same view, but as ulterior motives for
U.S. endorsement of the RMP became apparent, reconsid-
ered. On May 12, one day after Friends of Animals led a
protest at the Greenpeace USA headquarters in Washington
D.C., U.S. WWF president Kathryn Fuller told Gore that
WWF strongly opposed “any action, including further work
on the RMP or RMS, that could constitute a first step toward
the resumption of commercial whaling.” In addition, Fuller
said, WWF was also “concerned to hear that the U.S. might
seek to accommodate Norway’s continued hunting of minke
whales in defiance of the IWC moratorium.”
Added WWF staffer Mark Sutton, “We feel we’ve
been hoodwinked by the administration.”
Indeed, the Greenpeace/IFAW agreement to accept
the RMP nearly sank the Southern Whale Sanctuary proposal
––because once Japan and Norway knew via the U.S. motion
to accept the RMP that it was assured, they had no further
reason to concede the creation of the sanctuary as a bargain-
ing ploy. The sanctuary could only be created by the
approval of 75% of the IWC membership. With additional
votes lined up from Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St.
Vincent-and-the-Grenadines, four Caribbean nations who are
heavily dependent upon Japanese aid, Norway and Japan
were in a position to block the creation of the sanctuary pend-
ing concessions such as moving the boundary south from the
40th parallel and exempting minke whales from protection.
On the opening day of the IWC meeting Japan and the others
moved to set the boundary at the 60th parallel, which would
have cut the sanctuary size by about 90%, since half the area
within the 60th parallel is the Antarctic land mass.
Behind the scenes, Russian officials said, Japan
tried to enlist their support for either blocking the designation
of the sanctuary or reducing it, by threatening to withhold
funds pledged earlier to help the Russian navy build storage
tanks for nuclear waste. The Russians had been dumping
nuclear waste into the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The
real message may have been that Russia should shut up about
revelations of whale piracy during the regime of the former
Soviet Union. Japanese IWC inspectors were often aboard
the Soviet whaling ships, and Japan bought most of the
poached whale meat.
The sanctuary boundaries ultimately were altered,
but only to dip around Tierra del Fuego in deference to
Chilean and Argentinian territorial sovereignty. Otherwise,
the boundaries and perhaps the sanctuary itself may have
been saved by FoA and the Animal Welfare Institute, as well
as by Ireland, which led resistance to further concessions in
Puerto Vallarta. In addition to the FoA-led demonstration
against Greenpeace, both FoA and AWI placed big ads
attacking the RMP in leading U.S. newspapers. Thus prod-
ded to take a more decisive stand, WWF joined Greenpeace
in leading an unprecedented joint demonstration on May 17
in front of the White House.
The last-minute protests brought “frantic behind-
the-scenes maneuvering” in Washington D.C., reported Polly
Ghazi of the National Observer. “A friend of president
Clinton was hastily drafted onto the American IWC delega-
tion. The Americans exerted enormous pressure on wavering
governments to make sure the sanctuary was approved.
‘There was total panic,’” Ghazi quoted “one senior American
source. ‘Before, the priority had been to get the RMP in
place because America owed Norway for brokering the
Middle East peace deal. Suddenly we were told to move
heaven and earth to get an Antarctic sanctuary.’”
Would you do it for
$625 million?
A member of the U.S. IWC delegation told A N I-
MAL PEOPLE that Ghazi’s account was substantially accu-
rate––but also confirmed, as ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in
June, that the Clinton administration had an even bigger
interest involved than just repaying Norway for a political
favor. “It was a done deal before we ever got to Puerto
Vallarta,” the delegation member said. Resumed commercial
whaling was in effect a throw-in to secure a $625 million sale
of air-to-air missiles to Norway, in negotiation throughout
the fall of 1993 and presented to Congress for pro forma rati-
fication on May 13. At a stroke, the missile deal would erase
the U.S. trade deficit with Norway, almost to the penny;
insure continued Norwegian use of U.S.-made fighter aircraft,
which in turn means parts and maintenance business for U.S.
suppliers; and bail out two struggling defense contractors on
the eve of this year’s Congressional elections––the Raytheon
Corporation, of Massachusetts, and the California-based
Hughes Aircraft division of General Motors. The announce-
ment of the missile deal belatedly explained why Bill Clinton
refused to impose trade sanctions on Norway for resuming
commercial whaling last year, despite acknowledging on
October 3, 1993 that trade sanctions were warranted.
The IWC delegates were barely home before
Norway announced on June 7 that it would allow whalers to
kill 301 minke whales this summer–––119 in a purported
research hunt, of whom 19 had already been killed, and 189
in an overt commercial hunt. The combined quotas were only
five greater than the combined quotas Norway set unilaterally
last year, but were far greater than the actual 1993 kill of 226
whales. The quotas were a direct affront not only to the
authority of the IWC, but also to observers who believed
Norway would be deterred by the calculations of IWC
Scientific Committee member Justin Cooke, of Britain, who
argues that the Norwegian estimate that there are 86,700
minke whales within Norwegian territorial waters is high due
to a math error, and that the actual number according to the
Norwegian data should be 53,000. Under the RMP quota-set-
ting formula, the lower estimate would purportedly limit
Norway to killing only one whale a year for commercial use.
Influenced by Cooke’s findings, the IWC voted 18-
3 in Puerto Vallarta, with six abstentions, to urge Norway to
reconsider issuing itself even scientific whaling permits.
Norwegian IWC delegate Bjorn Blokhus immediately
responded that Norway would continue killing up to 200
whales a year for research.
“We have had a good amount of contact with the
U.S.,” said Norwegian fisheries ministry director general
Stein Owne, in announcing the new quotas, “and we feel the
likelihood of sanctions is less than last year.”
With the missile deal pending, that was an under-
statement. A trade boycott of Norway could be structured to
exclude military hardware, but excluding the possibility of
Norwegian retaliation would be difficult since the U.S. has
more to lose.
The devil and the deep
Norwegian defiance escalated a few days later when
Norway proposed dropping minke whales in the North
Atlantic from protection under the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species––the international
equivalent of the Endangered Species List. If this proposal is
accepted, IWC rulings will not be directly affected, but pres-
sure to resume commercial whaling will increase. More
important, delisting minke whales under CITES would allow
Norwegian whalers to openly sell whale meat to Japan, a traf-
fic now covert. (Last October an employee of Norwegian
whaling industry spokesman Steiner Bastesen was arrested for
allegedly trying to smuggle whale meat to Japan.)
Anticipating the Norwegian action, an IWC
Resolution on Trade in Whale Meat and Products asking
members to cease illegal trading in whale products was adopt-
ed by consensus in Puerto Vallarta, with reservations
expressed by Norway, Japan, and Denmark.
The Norwegian governmental interest in whaling
isn’t primarily economic. Indeed, according to Greenpeace,
the Norwegian whaling industry is currently worth just $7
million a year, while export contracts lost because of non-
governmental anti-whaling boycotts cost $70 million a year.
The real issue may be purely political. Whaling and sealing
are focal points for the outrage of Norwegian fishing commu-
nities whose catches are sharply down due to pollution and
overfishing, and whose vessels are now barred from parts of
the North Atlantic while cod stocks recover. Villagers and
local politicians in Norway, as in Atlantic Canada, blame
competition from marine mammals rather than their own
excesses for the reduced catches. The ruling Norwegian
Labor Party, led by prime minister Gro Brundtland, holds
only 67 of the 165 seats in the Norwegian parliament, and
can’t afford to lose any support from the coastal towns.
Indeed, on May 25, the third day of the IWC meeting,
Brundtland’s government survived a motion of no confidence
by a margin of just 83-80. Labor picked up 17 votes from
opposition parties, and there were four abstentions. At issue
was the appointment of Torstein Moland, who is accused of
tax evasion, to head the Norwegian central bank.
An even bigger issue for both Norwegian industry
and the Brundtland government is that the Norway will vote
late this year on whether or not to join the European
Union––to exporters a boon potentially much bigger than any
whale-related losses, but a threat to industries serving a
domestic clientele, which are now protected by trade barriers.
The rightist Progress Party and conservative Christian
Democrats oppose joining the EU, on a patriotic plank.
Brundtland tried to outdo them in January by asking that the
EU grant Norway a special exemption from all applicable
laws and treaties, to enable Norwegians to kill and sell not
only minke whales, but also fin whales, sperm whales, and
orcas. Rebuffed by a resolution restating EU opposition to
commercial whaling, and by an International Union for the
Conservation of Nature resolution to the same effect passed
days later, Brundtland pledged in February to honor EU con-
servation agreements, presumably including the EU-support-
ed IWC moratorium on whaling. Her administration tried to
reduce the domestic pressure by setting the national sealing
quota at 20,100, an increase of 2,100, even though the major
purchaser of seal products is the Norwegian government,
which reportedly stores unsaleable pelts in warehouses near
Bergen, after buying them to keep the sealers employed.
Despite that maneuver, the Norwegian political sit-
uation now is such that if Brundtland failed to militantly pro-
mote whaling and sealing she could not only lose power, but
also––ironically––lose the opening to EU admission. A poll
published on June 6 pushed Brundtland farther into a corner,
showing that only 28% of Norwegian voters favor joining the
EU, while 52% are opposed.
The only prospect in sight for political trading that
might have stopped Norwegian whaling involved sulfur emis-
sions from British coal-burning power plants, which are
believed to be the primary source of acid rain that has exten-
sively damaged Norwegian forests. Although Britain has
already cut sulphur emissions by 37% since 1980, Norwegian
environment minister Thorbjoern Berntsen recently called his
British counterpart, John Gummer, a “drittsekk” for not
doing more. The term means “sack of excrement.” The two
mended fences on June 14, however, as Gummer visited
Norway to sign a treaty negotiated by the United Nations that
commits Britain to continue cutting sulphur emissions, with a
target of achieving an 80% reduction from 1980 levels by
2010. Whales apparently were not discussed.
Party time
Nongovernmental organizations struggled to find an
effective response to Norway, having apparently been lulled
by the Norwegian IWC strategy––which after the creation of
the Southern Whale Sanctuary at the 40th parallel seemed cer-
tain, was to keep a low profile pending the RMP vote. That
strategy worked. When the sanctuary was approved, a party
broke out in Puerto Vallarta, “with all the NGOs,” Steve
Best of the International Wildlife Coalition announced early
the next morning via the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
online news service. Added Best, “It’s difficult, as you can
imagine, to engage any of them in cogent conversation.”
Another celebratory party was actually underway at
the Greenpeace Australia headquarters in Sydney as the RMP
was adopted. There, veteran Greenpeace whale campaigner
Robbie Kelman enthused to media that the Greenpeace strate-
gy had worked so well that back in Puerto Vallarta, even
Norway “went for a walk on the beach at the time of the
vote.” Indeed, the sanctuary was approved 23-1, with all the
pro-whaling nations but Japan either voting with the majority
or abstaining. Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St.
Vincent-and-the-Grenadines sat out the vote, daunted by the
prospect of an international tourism boycott called by the
International Wildlife Coalition. A fifth Caribbean nation,
Antigua-and-Barbuda, was vigorously wooed by Japan but
ultimately supported the sanctuary. Yet another, the
Seychelles, withdrew from the IWC when 14 years of
endorsing Japanese proposals in exchange for foreign aid
became a national political liability.
With the passage of the RMP quietly assured, and
the creation of the sanctuary certain as well without the oppo-
sition of at least five of the six Caribbean nations, Norway
simply had nothing to gain by waking anyone up.
“We’ll intensify our campaign against whaling,”
pledged Greenpeace spokesperson Geir Wang-Andersen, as
the Norwegian whalers prepared to sail. Wang-Andersen did
not know how this might be done, but guessed, “We’ll prob-
ably focus on our boycott work,” despite the likelihood that
boycotts of Norway will be ineffective at least until after the
final vote on joining the EU. “But we can’t rule out actions
against Norwegian whalers,” Wang-Andersen added.
Fire delays Watson
Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society were almost prepared. Expecting the worst at Puerto
Vallarta, Watson spent the spring outfitting two new vessels
for direct action against the Norwegian whalers. Watson
described the 58-meter Whales Forever as “the largest and
most powerful vessel in the history of the Sea Shepherd fleet,
a virtual floating fortress, ice-strengthened, easily defended,
with long-range capability.” The other new vessel is report-
edly a submarine, details of which were secret. Watson was
known to have inspected both Russian and British submarines
that were up for sale as surplus late last year.
Scheduled to leave Ijmulden, the Netherlands, on
June 9, the Whales Forever was instead delayed by a June 6
fire. According to a Sea Shepherd press release, the ship
“was preparing to take on fuel when a loud explosion shook
the vessel. The fuel barge broke away immediately as thick
black smoke poured from the engine room. Donning smoke
masks and air tanks, the Sea Shepherd crew descended into a
smoke-darkened machinery space to discover a raging fire.
They were able to extinguish the blaze, saving the ship but
with the loss of the electrical switchboard and some auxiliary
machinery. Chief engineer Jeremy Coon and crew member
Paul Whalen suffered minor smoke inhalation.”
Continued the release, “The cause of the fire has
not yet been determined. There are reasons to suspect sabo-
tage…The blast, however, may have been accidental.”
Watson authorized $150,000 worth of repairs,
rescheduling departure for July 1, “in the company of Sea
Shepherd’s submarine and with a total crew of 40.”
According to Watson, “Following Norway in defy-
ing the moratorium on commercial whaling are the nations of
Japan, Iceland, Denmark, Korea, and Russia. Other nations
contemplating a return to commercial whaling are Taiwan,
Peru, Chile, Canada, and Brazil.”
Watson, Orcaforce head Lisa Distefano, and col-
league Dwight Worker seemed undisturbed by their June 3
conviction in absentia for scuttling the Norwegian whaling
vessel Nyabraena at harbor in December 1992. They were
sentenced to four months in jail apiece. Watson said he has
received no response to repeated requests for an extradition
hearing in connection with the January 1994 scuttling of
another Norwegian whaler, the Senet, which was refloated
within several days. An extradition hearing would give
Watson and DiStefano an international forum–––which
Norway doesn’t want.
“Norway wants to see the appearance of justice but
is not interested in actually pursuing justice,” DiStefano
Added Watson, “To be called a criminal by a nation
that criminally slaughters whales is no great insult.”
Australia on June 14 became the first nation to for-
mally reprimand Norway for resuming whaling. “A growing
majority of world opinion is opposed to commercial whaling,”
trade minister Bob McMullan reportedly told the Norwegian
ambassador. Australia was among the leaders in seeking the
creation of the Southern Whale Sanctuary, but joined the U.S.
in moving to adopt the RMP. The current chair of the IWC is
an Australian, Dr. Peter Bridgewater. The Australian posi-
tion on the RMS in January could thus be critical.
According to the IWC meeting summary distributed
by participating activist groups, “the staggering litany of
smuggling, data falsification, environmental threats and cru-
elty leave every objective observer doubting that commercial
whalers can make the comeback that a year or two ago
seemed almost inevitable. The whalers face the same com-
mercial extinction as so many of the species they ravaged.”
Japan still in Antarctic
But Japan as well as Norway seemed to be deter-
mined to go on whaling. After Blokhus told media that,
“Some nations could lose their patience with the IWC,” if the
RMP does not lead directly to resumed commercial whaling
quotas, implying Norway might follow Iceland in resigning,
Japanese whaling commissioner Kazuo Shima voiced quick
Shima said he lacked the words to express “the
resentment, remorse, discontent and disillusion I feel about
the future that awaits Japan in the IWC.” Shima also raised
Japanese discontent with international fishing regulations
designed to protect depleted stocks. “If we introduce such an
irrational principle” as protecting minke whales, he said,
who are the one species believed to be more numerous now
than at the height of commercial whaling, “it could extend to
marine resources beyond whales.” The words were taken by
some as a veiled threat that Japan might cease to enforce the
international ban on driftnetting, a major source of “acciden-
tal” whale and dolphin deaths. (In fact, three grey whales
were reportedly drowned in loose driftnets off the coast of
British Columbia within a week of the IWC meeting.)
Shima took no notice of the position by other IWC
members that minke whales must be protected to prevent
poaching of other species whose remains might be passed off
as minke meat. Indeed, an Earthtrust analysis of the DNA in
alleged minke meat sold in Japanese supermarkets discovered
shortly before the IWC meeting that of 16 samples, four came
from fin whales, one mingled humpback with minke, one
mingled sperm whale with porpoise, and two were from dol-
phins. He did state that Japanese “research whaling” would
continue, both within the Southern Whale Sanctuary, where
research whaling is not forbidden, and in the North Pacific,
where whales have not been killed since 1988.
In other business, the IWC approved increasing the
Alaskan aboriginal quota of bowhead whales from 41 per year
to 51; renewed a quota of 140 grey whales per year for
Russian aboriginals; and renewed a quota of 165 minke
whales plus 19 fin whales per year for western Greenland, a
Danish protectorate. Repeatedly denied in past years, a
Japanese request for an aboriginal quota of 50 minke whales
per year was denied once again.
The Alaskan aboriginals are allowed to wound up to
68 whales to retrieve the 51 they will butcher. Their quota
was raised because the population of the 10 villages whose
residents hunt whales has grown 40% in the past decade.
Although bowheads are among the most endangered species,
IFAW representive Holt said that, “Scientifically there’s
nothing wrong with it because the stocks are increasing.”
According to Holt, grey whales and bowheads are
the only species whose numbers have demonstrably grown
since the advent of the moratorium. Gray whales, still
defended against hunting by the Marine Mammal Protection
Act, IWC, and Mexican legislation, were dropped from the
U.S. Endangered Species List on June 15.
––Merritt Clifton
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