IWC blocks re­turn of com­mer­cial whal­ing

Ja­pan on brink of pull­out

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

FLORIANAPOLIS, Brazil, Sept 15, (AFP): Ja­pan’s de­ter­mined bid to re­turn to com­mer­cial whale hunt­ing was re­jected by the In­ter­na­tional Whal­ing Com­mis­sion (IWC) Fri­day in a tense vote that left the 72-year old or­ga­ni­za­tion at a cross­roads.

Ja­pan’s Vice-Min­is­ter for Fish­eries Masaaki Ta­niai said he “re­gret­ted” the vote’s out­come, and threat­ened Tokyo’s with­drawal from the 89-mem­ber body if progress could not be made to­wards a re­turn to com­mer­cial whal­ing.

“If sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and diver­sity is not re­spected, if com­mer­cial whal­ing is com­pletely de­nied... Ja­pan will be pressed to un­der­take a fun­da­men­tal re­assess­ment of its po­si­tion as a mem­ber of the IWC,” he said.

Ja­pan’s IWC Com­mis­sioner Joji Mor­ishita de­clined to com­ment when asked if this would be Ja­pan’s last ap­pear­ance at the IWC, an or­ga­ni­za­tion which he has chaired for the past two years. His term ended Fri­day.

Min­utes af­ter the meet­ing he told AFP that dif­fer­ences with anti-whal­ing na­tions were “very clear” and Ja­pan would now plan it’s “next steps”. Anti-whal­ing na­tions led by Aus­tralia, the Euro­pean Union and the United States, de­feated Ja­pan’s “Way For­ward” pro­posal in a 41 to 27 vote.

Ja­pan had sought con­sen­sus for its plan but had been forced to push the pro­posal to a vote “to demon­strate the re­sound­ing voices of sup­port” for a re­turn to sus­tain­able whal­ing for profit, said Ta­niai.

Pa­cific and Caribbean is­land na­tions as well as Nicaragua and sev­eral African coun­tries, in­clud­ing Morocco, Kenya and Tan­za­nia, voted with Ja­pan, as did Asian na­tions Laos and Cam­bo­dia. Korea ab­stained.

The Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, which like sev­eral states al­lows IWC-mon­i­tored abo­rig­i­nal sub­sis­tence whal­ing, said it ab­stained be­cause it did not want to ex­ac­er­bate an al­ready “deep split within the com­mis­sion”.

The body’s iden­tity cri­sis was clear in a week of of­ten ro­bust ex­changes be­tween pro- and anti-whal­ing na­tions.

Mor­ishita told AFP a de­ci­sion lay ahead over whether whal­ing could be man­aged in the fu­ture by “a dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion or a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions?”

The large Ja­panese del­e­ga­tion here would “as­sess the re­sult of this meet­ing very care­fully back in Ja­pan,” said Mor­ishita.

The IWC was set up in 1946 to con­serve and man­age the world’s whale and cetacean pop­u­la­tion. It in­tro­duced a mora­to­rium on com­mer­cial whal­ing in 1986 af­ter some species had been fished to near ex­tinc­tion.

Ja­pan in­sists whale stocks have suf­fi­ciently re­cov­ered to al­low com­mer­cial hunt­ing to re­sume.

Tokyo cur­rently ob­serves the mora­to­rium but ex­ploits a loop­hole to kill hun­dreds of whales ev­ery year for “sci­en­tific pur­poses” as well as to sell the meat.

Nor­way and Ice­land ig­nore the mora­to­rium and are key sup­port­ers of Ja­pan’s bid to re­sume com­mer­cial whal­ing.

A Ja­panese with­drawal would have far-reach­ing con­se­quences for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, given sup­port from a grow­ing num­ber of de­vel­op­ing states in the IWC.


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