Controversial Deal Could Allow Japan to Hunt More Whales

By Eliza Strickland | January 26, 2009 9:04 am

minke whaleBehind closed doors, members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have been discussing a proposal that would give give Japan the right to hunt whales in its coastal waters. IWC officials say the controversial proposal is a compromise measure, as Japan would also have to agree to limit its hunts in the Southern Ocean, but opponents say it amounts to an official sanction of Japan’s whale hunts. The International Fund for Animal Welfare argues that the proposal is part of a dangerous drift towards commercial whaling in the 21st century.”This is Whalergate,” the global director of the fund’s whale program, Patrick Ramage, said [Sydney Morning Herald].

The proposal was put forward by American commission member William Hogarth, a Bush appointee, who has argued that a compromise is necessary to keep Japan from withdrawing from the commission. In recent years, the whaling commission … has been deadlocked between the anti- and pro-whaling camps. Rather than setting a clear direction for conserving and managing whale populations worldwide, its meetings have become contentious donnybrooks in which the two sides have competed for influence while little changed. Worldwide, three countries — Japan, Iceland and Norway — continue to hunt whales, either in the name of research or, in Norway’s case, under a commercial exception established more than 20 years ago [Washington Post].

The draft proposal suggests that Japan be allowed to engage in “coastal whaling” along its shores, although it doesn’t specify how many whales could be killed under such a plan. In return, Japan would have to scale back the annual whale hunt it conducts around Antarctica, in what the Japanese government calls “scientific” whaling. Japan has begun taking more whales in recent years under the science designation, killing 872 in 2007, compared with 540 in 1997 [Washington Post]. The proposal says that the IWC could either come up with a “sustainable” limit on the number of Antarctic minke whales that could be killed each year, or that hunts in the Southern Ocean could gradually be phased out altogether.

The proposal has already generated intense resistance from wildlife conservation groups, who say that increased whaling in Japan’s coastal waters will put additional stress on whale populations near Japan. The International Fund for Animal Welfare also takes issue with the proposal’s statement that the global moratorium on commercial whaling “will remain in effect”. Mr Ramage said: “That seems to rank alongside ‘there is no recession’ and ‘there are [weapons of mass destruction]’ as an Orwellian approach beyond belief” [Sydney Morning Herald].

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Image: flickr / René Ehrhardt

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World
  • http://clubneko.net nick

    It makes me sick to think of people eating these intelligent, (mostly) gentle animals. They have language.

    Of course, the US government is a bag of hypocrisy when it comes to protecting whales – we wont kill them outright, but we sure as heck disrupt their lives violently with our super-powered sonar.

  • Bystander

    You know that we actually have to drive species to complete extinction before anyone admits to any wrongdoing. Money money money! And power. Wonder how much use that’ll be on a dead planet? :P

  • http://EcoLegacy.WordPress.com CSea Perkins

    Thank you for posting and bringing this to my attention. Horrible move. I can’t imagine NRDC allowing this to happen. Are you registered to voice your opinion with them?

  • Prem Das

    The only strategy that will work is hit them in the pocket. Boycott Japanese products especially Japanese cars. There are more than acceptable alternatives available. Teach the Japanese times have changed.
    These message is especially targeted at the Americans. Kill two birds with one stone. Avoid Japanese and buy true blue American. Its the patriotic thing to do right now. Its the kind thing to do.
    President Obama need you in his corner.

  • http://rahchis.blogspot.com/ Rahsaan Chisolm

    Hayden Pannettiere’s gonna have a cow.

  • Corey

    I think this is awful whales are an endangered species and should be treated with respect not hunted to extinction. I think the IWC is a joke if they are even considering this proposal in the first place. These are majestic intelligent creatures that have as much a right to live as we do.
    Bystander is right the japanese will never learn unless we do something.

  • Burr

    The last time that I felt so strongly about was during WWII ——– They appeared somewhat barbaric then —– and still do!

  • http://www.a2q.com Jay Warner

    The precision with which we count whales is pitiful; the actual count is so far below populations of years past — how can we then claim that _any_ whale killing is “sustainable.”

    If a whale were as “cute” as a baby seal, there would be no debate.

    Meanwhile, the best if not only way to “reach” the Japanese government is to not only refuse to buy anything with a Japanese origin, but to send a note to the manufacturer, saying why.

  • Robert Law

    I just read a report (“Japanese Whaling Strategies”, The Management Case Study Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2008, pp 65-82, University of South Australia) which in its summary, stated a growing conern by Japan businesses of a global consumer backlash over the country’s position on whaling. In these hard economic times, they cannot afford any further drop in sales of cars, electronics, or toys.

    The report also stated that 1/5 of the whale meat collected each year is held by the government for the “purposes of promoting the consumption of whale meat”, doing so with annual whale eating events and cooking demonstrations.

    The U.S. gave up Bison long ago. Here’s hoping the younger Japanese generation will break from old traditions and move forward into the 21st century and remove whale meat from their sushi bars.

  • Ben

    Do they not understand what they are doing? They have already been pushed so close to extinction and they want to keep killing them… What are they going to do when they have killed them all? Even considering this proposal is ridiculous. A complete ban on any and all whaling should be ENFORCED (key word) until they populations (if they can) rise to a point where they can possibly be sustained.

  • Eddie Barnwwell

    I have been watching “Whale Wars” on ETV and it seems to me, that a nation with the power of the US, could step in and put the squese on Japan’s Whale market. The Tuna market is somewhat controlled, or we think. There needs to be an orginazation of people to work together to get the funds to get film footage while they operate on the offence to create negative profits for the Japanese’ rich. If we wait, it will be too late. The whales will be gone, along with Tuna, Sharks, and other animals here on Earth for our protection. I would be more willing to battle for this type of cause than any war such as Iraq. Been there done that, Viet Nam. I would be more than willing to help. This type of action would be the only way at least slow the killing. There should be more than enough of money from activist that would rather do their part financially, than actively. Just let me know when the ship leaves and I’ll be there.

  • Eddie

    I have been watching “Whale Wars” on ETV and it seems to me, that a nation with the power of the US, could step in and put the squese on Japan’s Whale market. The Tuna market is somewhat controlled, or we think. There needs to be an orginazation of people to work together to get the funds to get film footage while they operate on the offence to create negative profits for the Japanese’ rich. If we wait, it will be too late. The whales will be gone, along with Tuna, Sharks, and other animals here on Earth for our protection. I would be more willing to battle for this type of cause than any war such as Iraq. Been there done that, Viet Nam. I would be more than willing to help. This type of action would be the only way at least slow the killing. There should be more than enough of money from activist that would rather do their part financially, than actively. Just let me know when the ship leaves and I’ll be there.

  • what?

    None of you bothered to look into Japanese history. America with the three hundred year old culture wouldn’t understand the value of old ways. Japan has hunted whales as a religious practice since the early dynasties and they have the right yo continue as long as they limit their killing. Signed an educated American

  • Steve

    Steve say ‘what?’ to what?

    Steve say what? is talking through his blowhole. Steve say if Japanese history so important why they not still on suicide missions to Pearl Harbour? Steve comes from England which older than Japan but has not same barbarity and amorality. Steve wonder why what? talks in such strange way. Steve say ‘what? thinks okay to kill intelligent animals with exploding harpoon. Steve says ‘what? may be educated but that doesn’t mean he has any understanding of world whatsoever. Steve say how would what? like to be killed by exploding harpoon. Steve say it would not hurt what? as much as it would whale because whale has bigger brain.

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