Whalers’ covert strategy confirmed

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

Whaling industry revival strategies long suspected
by ANIMAL PEOPLE and the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society were bluntly
confirmed in early June, soon after the annual
International Whaling Commission meeting
ended in Grenada without lifting the 1986
global moratorium on commercial whaling.
Citing Hideki Moronuki of the
Japanese ministry for agriculture, forests, and
fisheries as her source, Mari Yamaguchi of
Associated Press on June 3 reported from
Tokyo that “In a bid to gain support for commercial
whaling, Japan hopes to coax developing
countries to join the IWC by giving
them financial assistance. Aid will be given,”
Yamaguchi continued, “to countries that have
been reluctant to join the IWC for fear of damaging
their diplomatic and economic ties with
the West” if they favor whaling.
Moronuki argued that whales, rather
than aggressive fishing led by the Japanese
fleet, are chiefly responsible for globally
declining catches.

Japan has already been providing
substantial foreign aid and investment to the
tiny Caribbean nations of Antigua-andBarbuda,
Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and
St. Vincent-and-the-Grenadines, whose delegations
have often voted with Japan on IWC
resolutions, and has recently also significantly
assisted the Irish fishing industry; Ireland this
year advanced a proposal to allow commercial
whaling within 200 miles of each nation’s
coast, a proposal which would in effect have
dismantled the moratorium since most whales
live most of their lives in coastal waters.
ANIMAL PEOPLE first reported
on the Japanese strategy in May 1994.
The Canadian government, meanwhile,
has been “providing strategic advice
and financial support” to the Victoria-based
World Council of Whalers,” freelance Sarah
Schmidt revealed in the June 14 edition of the
Toronto Globe & Mail.
Continued Schmidt, “A senior advisor
in the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs,” Brian Roberts, “outlined a public
relations strategy for whales at the council’s
March 1999 general assembly in Reykjavik,
Iceland. The federal department, along with
commercial whaling interests from Japan,
Iceland, and Greenland, also provided financial
support for the whaling council, established
two years ago with seed money from
Japan to counter the work of the IWC.”

Fur precedent
Roberts described to the World
Council of Whalers how the Department of
Indian and Northern Affairs prevailed upon the
European Community to repeatedly delay and
eventually dismantle a ban on the import of
leghold-trapped furs, which was originally to
have taken effect in 1995.
“The first step,” Roberts said, “is to
neutralize the appeal of the animal protection
lobby. To accomplish this, it is necessary to
mount an equally powerful counterappeal.
This counterappeal was based on the survival
needs of aboriginal communities,” which
played well, Roberts continued, “with a poorly
informed and emotional public, and with
politicians seeking electoral approval from
such publics.”
Said Tom Happynook, hereditary
chief of the Huuayaht Nation, who also heads
the World Council of Whalers, “We moved
ahead by leaps and bounds after that meeting.”
Immediately after the Makah tribe of
northwestern Washngton state killed a whale
on May 17, Happynook and representatives of
the other 12 nations of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth
tribe confirmed their interest in building a
commercial whaling industry, in part to
replace the fished-out salmon industry.
“In recent years,” said Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society founder Paul Watson,
who led the organized opposition to the Makah
whale-killing, “the strategy of the whaling
lobby has been to re-cast commercial whaling
as ‘subsistence’ whaling, and rewrite international
conservation regulations in order to blur
and eventually eliminate the distinction. The
support of the U.S. government for the Makah
tribe’s ‘cultural subsistence’ whale hunt and
the support of the Canadian government for
the World Council of Whalers is all of a piece.
All parties need to know that this is Japan’s
international game plan, and ensure that they
do not fall into the trap.”
Whaling per se is only part of the
issue for Japan. The greater issue is that the
Japanese fishing industry fears that global regulation
of whaling could lead to more stringent
global regulation of fishing, too. The major
Japanese whaling companies are subsidiaries
of firms whose main business is fishing.
Japan has continued “research whaling”
throughout the IWC moratorium. Socalled
‘subsistence’ whaling continues in various
regions, and the Icelandic parliament
recently voted to resume commercial whaling,
but only Norway is engaged in commercial
whaling at present, having resumed unilaterally
in 1993. Claiming a 1999 quota of 753
minke whales, the 36-vessel Norwegian whaling
fleet had killed 294 through June 15. That
was about 100 fewer than were killed through
June 15, 1998, when the fleet fell about 50
short of filling a quota of 671.
Trying to counter the Japanese influence
abroad, the Sea Shepherds on June 11
announced the formation of Instituto Sea
Shepherd Brasil, headed by Alexandre Castro,
who was identified as “a professor of ecology
and leader of the Brazilian Antarctic
Expedition Team.”
The ISSB, a Sea Shepherd release
said, will conduct “pioneering projects in
rehabilitating oiled and stranded marine
wildlife, conservation of natural areas,
enforcement of national legislation protecting
marine ecosystems, and environmental education,”
including “I Also Want To See the
Seal,” a program for inner city youth.
Developed with the help of the Surfrider
Foundation Brasil, “I Also Want to See The
Seal” will introduce youth to surfing, too, the
Sea Shepherds added.
The Sea Shepherds and Surfrider
Foundation have previously worked together
on educational projects in California.
(The ISSB may be reached c/o CP
5010, Puerto Alegre, RS 90420-130; 051-
331-3290; >>Shepherd@ez-poa.com.br<<.)

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