Tuesday, June 20, 2006

BAD NEIGHBORS: Japan & Whaling Lobby Win Vote Towards Commercial Whaling

Japan and the whaling lobby have finally gained a simple majority vote at the IWC. The IWC passed by one vote (1) a declaration (2) that the "IWC has failed to meet its obligations…" its commitments to "normalizing the functions of the IWC…" in support of commercial whaling.

The justification for the declaration - that whales consume so much fish that they are a threat to food security for coastal nations – was patently absurd, said Greenpeace.

"Greenpeace is disgusted that any member of the IWC would seek to promote whaling through this Japanese-promoted declaration", said Jo McVeagh, whales campaigner for Greenpeace NZ.

"For millions of years fish and whales have coexisted quite happily. In recent years vast armadas of factory fishing fleets have collapsed global fish populations. Drift nets, bottom trawling and long lines have taken a huge toll in wiping out ocean life over our lifetimes".

"Blaming whales for collapsing fisheries is like blaming woodpeckers for deforestation."

The legitimacy of the vote remains in serious question. A number of countries, including New Zealand, have tabled serious reservations and disassociated themselves from the resolution.

This is the first significant vote that Japan has won at the IWC in the past 20 years. In reality, this declaration will change little or nothing. Previous votes over recent days have already rejected attempts by the whalers to agree resolutions to: * end any consideration by the IWC of protection for small cetaceans, * bring in secret ballots, * allow Japan an exception to the commercial moratorium to hunt Minke and Brydes whales in its territorial waters and , * end the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"After the last whaling season which ended in March, the five Japanese companies which own the whaling fleet announced they would divest their share to the Government's Institute for Cetacean Research. There is no commercial market for whale meat in Japan. The notion that whaling is vital to cultural heritage, food security and poverty is absurd," said Jo McVeagh.

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