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Future of commercial whaling ban rests with Japan

Did anyone hear of the decision today?

TOKYO (AP) -- Nations will next week consider whether to sanction commercial whale hunts for the first time in a quarter-century, a compromise to coax Japan into ending an annual cull of hundreds of the sea mammals in a sanctuary in the Antarctic.

The broader goal at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Morocco that begins Monday is to fix a fractured regulatory system in which a handful of whaling nations currently operate under a complex set of exemptions.

The focus will be on Japan, the strongest advocate of modern whaling. Even firm opponents are willing to allow limited commercial hunts if Tokyo stops pursuing whales in the southern sanctuary - a hunt allowed in the name of scientific research although much of the catch goes on sale in Japan as meat.

But that appears to be more than the Japanese are willing to concede.

"Japan holds the key, because Japan is the only country that is whaling in the southern ocean, the only country whaling in the sanctuary, the only country doing high-seas, long-distance whaling," said Susan Lieberman, Director of International Policy at the Pew Environment Group, which supports allowing some whaling.

The effectiveness of the IWC, the world's sole whaling regulator, is at stake. After whaling devastated many species, the commission instituted a ban in 1986, but Japan, Norway and Iceland harvest animals annually under its various exceptions.

"The moratorium has been one of the single most effective conservation achievements of the century, but it's not working currently in the sense that several governments can whale completely outside the IWC's control," said Wendy Elliott, who will lead a group from the WWF at the meeting.

The frigid Antarctic has become the focus of the heated debate. The area was declared a sanctuary in 1994, but Japan hunts there under its scientific exemption. Norway and Iceland conduct much smaller hunts nearer their own coasts, fueling less anger from opponents.

Each year in the Antarctic, Japan's whalers clash among the ice floes with militant anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd. On the hunt this year, the Sea Shepherd lost a catamaran in a collision and one member was arrested when he boarded a Japanese whaler at sea.

Antarctic whaling has also boiled over into diplomatic channels. Australia is taking Japan to the International Court of Justice, and the U.S. plus a host of other countries have come out against the Antarctic hunts.

Japan maintains more scientific analysis is required in the region. It mostly catches Antarctic minke whales, aiming for about 1,000 per year but often catching far less due to protesters.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List, a neutral listing of animal populations worldwide, says there is not enough data to determine if the species is threatened or not, although the population is "clearly in the hundreds of thousands."

Agreement within the IWC appears agonizingly close. Since a proposal was floated in April by the IWC chairman, some from the anti-whaling side, including the U.S. delegation, Greenpeace, the WWF and the Pew Group have said they would consider voting to allow limited commercial hunts, and Japan has signaled it may accept taking less whales than it does now.

But in the days leading up to the conference, the sticking point remains the southern sanctuary. Any agreement will be voted on by the full 88 member countries, with the goal to reach complete consensus and eliminate all whaling under objections and exceptions.

Two whaling officials at Japan's powerful Fisheries Agency, which sets the national agenda on whaling issues, said the country will not give up its Antarctic hunts, with one calling them "crucial." Both asked to remain anonymous because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Makoto Ito, managing director of Kyodo Senpaku Co., the company that runs the annual Antarctic hunt, said he didn't think they should be ended, because "we need to collect more data."

Japan's refusal to give up its Antarctic hunt puzzles even observers within the country. Current coastal catches, also conducted for scientific research, provide fresher meat and are cheaper. IWC approval would allow whalers to switch to commercial hunts and chase bigger whales, as well as shield Japan from international criticism.

Even if research proved the hunted whale populations were sustainable in the southern region, whether anyone would conduct such hunts is doubtful, making the purpose of the current scientific trips hard to understand, says Ayako Okubo, a researcher at Tokyo University.

"Truthfully, private companies would not go whaling in the Atlantic, if it weren't for the research hunts," she said.

But bureaucrats at the Fisheries Agency feel they are defending Japan's sovereign rights and food tradition, and have linked the issue with national pride. Many within Japan feel making any concessions on whaling is giving in to foreign pressure, said Jun Morikawa, a professor at Rakuno Gakuen University in northern Hokkaido.

"Nationalism is a double-edged sword. National sentiment has been activated now. But do you think the Fisheries Agency could pull out, even if it wanted to?" he said.

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10 Responses
535822 tn?1443980380
yes they heard its on my journal ,you put a post on it ....OBama is supporting the lifting of the ban ....
Avatar universal
Obama has never made any comment to lead one to think
he is in support of lifting the ban.  No one in HIS administration has
either.  Not that I am aware of. The entire subject is under consideration by the
"INTERNATIONAL" Commission on the Hunting of Whales.  The
U.S has representatives on it, but they have not weighed in for or
against as far as I know. Could I get your sources on this so I can do more research?
535822 tn?1443980380
No   not interested in another battle teko ..my answer is NO  look for yourself ..
Avatar universal
If you google it, you will see lots of sites talking about it.  The following is just one.  I have to scoot off the network....we have severe storms coming our way & may need to seek shelter.

Obama Under Fire for Backing Deal to Lift Global Ban on Commercial Whaling

Environmentalists, already peeved with the administration’s handling of the Gulf oil spill, are accusing President Obama of breaking his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales.

The Obama administration is leading an effort within the International Whaling Commission to lift a 24-year international ban on commercial whaling for Japan, Norway and Iceland, the remaining three countries in the 88-member commission that still hunt whales.

The administration argues that the new deal will save thousands of whales over the next decade by stopping the three countries from illegally exploiting loopholes in the moratorium.

But environmentalists aren't buying it.

"That moratorium on commercial whaling was the greatest conservation victory of the 20th century. And in 2010 to be waving the white flag or bowing to the stubbornness of the last three countries engaged in the practice is a mind-numbingly dumb idea," Patrick Ramage, the whaling director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told FoxNews.com.

Several environmental groups have joined forces to pressure Obama to withdraw his support for the deal before the whaling commission votes June 20 in Morocco on whether to lift the ban that was championed by President Reagan.

The groups have run ads in major newspapers highlighting Obama's campaign promise in 2008 to "strengthen the moratorium on commercial whaling," adding that "allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable."

"We ask you to honor your promise, stop the sellout, and save the whales," the ad reads.

The White House did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Under Obama's deal, the three whaling countries would be allowed to keep hunting whales for a 10-year period in reduced numbers. The whaling countries in return would agree to tighter oversight of their operations, including participation in a whale DNA registry.

"We recognize that these measures do not meet the needs of those who want a complete end to whaling now, but neither can it be characterized as a whalers' charter," the whaling commission said in a press release announcing the proposal. "We believe that it is undeniably better than the status quo."

Meanwhile a colleague of Peter Bethune, the Animal Planet star awaiting trial in Tokyo after a collision between his anti-whaling boat and a Japanese ship, says the environmental activist is doing what the international community refuses to do -- save the whales.

The 1986 moratorium unquestionably reduced the number of whales killed each year. But it's not as clear by how much. Some estimate that an average of 38,000 whales were killed each year before the moratorium reduced it to an average of 1,240.

Ramage said as many as 60,000 whales were killed before the moratorium -- a figure that he says has been cut to about 1,700 per year.

"To say that the moratorium doesn't work, that is a conscious effort to mislead or a complete misreading of the facts," Ramage said, adding that "throwing it overboard in the name of good feeling and cooperation and conciliation with Japan is jaw dropping."

Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's marine mammal protection program, added that the deal is "a step backward, to a time when it was acceptable to kill whales for profit."

"The moratorium has done more to save whales than the revival of commercial whaling ever could," he said in a written statement. "We will do everything we can to stop it – and to persuade the Obama administration that it should too."

The whaling commission says it developed the proposal to improve its performance on whale conservation and the management of whaling.

"Given the wide range of views of our members, it had to be a compromise proposal," said Cristian Maquieira, head of the IWC. "And that inevitably means that no one gets everything they want.

"Given the criticism we have received from all sides, we are probably not far off the correct balance. If we did not believe that this proposal was good for whales and considerably better than the present situation then we would not have put our names to it."

Avatar universal
Thank you Dazon,for taking the time to post this for me.  other than this being from fox, it sounds like something. I will keep looking. It doesn't smell right to me.

OMG! I hope you are okay? This weather this year is nuts! We have a tropical wave that was not supposed to develop! O chance in fact. Now it is developing! If it develops it will be Alex. Yikes! Way to early!
Avatar universal
23 Apr 2010 00:07:02 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Japan, Norway, Iceland would keep whaling

* As many as 18,000 whales could be saved

* U.S. says no to any proposal that lifts whaling ban

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - Japan, Norway and Iceland could continue commercial whaling for another decade, despite a global ban, under a proposal released on Thursday by the International Whaling Commission.

Between 4,000 and 18,000 whales could be saved over the next 10 years under the compromise proposal, which sets lower catch limits for all three whaling nations than the self-imposed quotas they have now.

"For the first time since the adoption of the commercial whaling moratorium, we will have strict, enforceable limits on all whaling operations," Cristian Maquieira, the Chilean chairman of the commission, said in a statement.

There would be rigorous monitoring of whaling, and no other countries in the 88-nation commission would be allowed to start whaling operations during the 10-year plan.

The environmentally delicate Southern Ocean would be designated as a sanctuary, but whalers from Japan would still be allowed to take a number of the marine mammals from the seas around Antarctica.

The United States said it would consider the plan but said it would oppose any proposal that lifted the international commercial whaling ban, which has been routinely evaded by Japan, Norway and Iceland.


"When the moratorium on commercial whaling began in 1986, it had an immediate beneficial impact," Monica Medina, a Commerce Department official who represents Washington at the whaling commission, said in a statement.

Medina said that, over time, "loopholes in the rules" allowed more whaling, with 35,000 whales hunted and killed since the ban started.

The proposal is a compromise crafted by Maquieira and the commission's vice chairman, Anthony Liverpool, after two years of acrimony and meetings in Washington last week that ended with no agreement. The 88 member-countries will have 60 days to consider it before discussing it at the commission's annual meeting in Morocco in June.

Environmental groups and many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, favor a total ban on commercial whaling.

"It's quite disappointing," said Susan Lieberman of the Pew Environment Group. "The key issue is, it allows for continued commercial whaling. It allows Japan to whale off the coast of Antarctica, and that's not acceptable."

The impact of climate change is more severe at the poles, and the waters around Antarctica are already under pressure, Lieberman said. She questioned the proposed idea of setting up a sanctuary for whales there, and then letting whaling continue in the area.

Lieberman praised the proposal's provisions for detailed monitoring and DNA tracking of whales. (Editing by Eric Beech)

So it will be interesting to see what happens.

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