U.S. backs deal to let Japan legally kill whales in the Southern Oceans

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:


WASHINGTON D.C.–Japan is likely to be authorized to engage
in commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and
coastal waters, and Norway and Iceland are likely to be allowed to
continue commercial whaling, now with International Whaling
Commission approval, at the 2010 IWC meeting in Agadir, Morocco,
to be held June 21-25.
Japan has engaged in “research” whaling at commercial levels
throughout the global whaling moratorium declared by the IWC in 1982,
and has killed whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary ever
since the sanctuary was designated in 1994. The IWC has not
previously addressed Japanese coastal whaling, which mostly kills
species smaller than those regulated by the IWC. Norway has killed
minke whales in coastal waters since 1993. Iceland has wobbled
between authorizing and prohibiting whaling.

The 88-nation IWC is expected to condone Japanese,
Norwegian, and Icelandic whaling as part of a “compromise” that
would attempt to lower their whaling quotas, place observers on
whaling vessels, and keep other nations from resuming whaling.
A published draft proposal from the IWC Small Working Group
is due to be formalized on April 22.
The draft proposal mostly follows the recommendations of a
“Whale Sympos-ium” held by the Pew Charitable Trusts in February
2008. The symposium concluded that “the most promising compromise”
to end conflict with Japan over the 24-year-old IWC moratorium on
commercial whaling “would recognize potentially legitimate claims by
coastal whaling communities; suspend scientific whaling in its
current form and respect sanctuaries,” omitted from the Small
Working Group draft proposal; and “define a finite number of whales
that can be taken by all of the world’s nations.” The Pew
recommendations were pushed by former U.S. IWC commissioner William
Hogarth, who retired after chairing the 2009 IWC meeting.
“Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is
unacceptable,” declared U.S. President Barack Obama in March 2009,
but in March 2010 Obama appointed former Pew Institute director of
whale conservation Monica Medine to succeed Hogarth.
Explained Michael McCarthy, environment editor for The
Independent, “U.S. officials have been strongly backing the
proposal. This is thought to be in part because of a specific
problem–the subsistence whaling quotas for indigenous Inuit peoples
in Alaska, which the U.S. is obliged to seek from the IWC every few
years. In 2002, in return for American hostility to its
‘scientific’ whaling, Japan blocked the quota, causing the U.S.
considerable embarrassment before the Japanese backed down. The next
quota request is due in 2012. Some observers think the U.S. wants to
make sure it is on terms with Japan so the quota will not be blocked
again. Another surprise supporter of the proposal is New Zealand,”
McCarthy said, “although Australia is strongly opposed to the plan.”
Wrote Christian Dippel in the March 4, 2010 edition of
Foreign Policy, “If the IWC follows the Small Working Group
recommendation, it would be a major victory for the whaling
nations–thanks in no small part to the work Japan has put into
cultivating allies in the commission. Countries that have joined the
IWC recently and voted with Japan have been more likely to see
increases in Japanese bilateral aid receipts,” Dippel noted. “For
instance, Antigua & Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis, both of which
were in the Small Working Group, have received around $40 more in per
capita aid from Japan since joining the IWC.” Dippel found that “IWC
membership is an even more powerful predictor of decreases in British
aid receipts and combined aid receipts from France, Germany, and
the U.S.,” but observed that “Foreign aid can be divided into loans
that need to be paid back and grants that do not. Japanese foreign
aid increases are almost entirely in grant form, which developing
countries prefer.”
The IWC Small Working Group proposal was denounced by
BlueVoice, Green-peace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare,
and the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, among other longtime
opponents of whaling.

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