Japan on Whaling

An interesting op ed in the Herald by the Japanese Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission:

In 1982, without any scientific justification and recommendation by its scientific committee, the International Whaling Commission passed the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

Since then, the normal rules of debate and treaty interpretation that are the basis for good international governance have too often been ignored by some IWC members. Differing opinions have become entrenched as polarised institutional discourse and rhetoric. With a lack of good faith negotiations, this raises serious questions about the IWC’s continued institutional legitimacy and whether it indeed has a future.

I fail to see how Japan’s blatant bribery of small or poor, and sometimes landlocked ,nations to join the IWC, just so they can vote for more whaling is an example of the good faith Minoru Morimoto complains about.

New Zealand has sacrificed the principles of science-based management and sustainable use that are the world standard as a political expediency to satisfy the interests of non-government organisations.

This is quite possibly true.

Article VIII of the Whaling Convention unequivocally provides the right to kill whales for research purposes and that “the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this  Convention.” Japan’s research is of vital importance since regulations adopted by the IWC must, according to the Whaling Convention, “be based on scientific findings”.

While this is basically bullshit.  Everyone knows the 300 whales killed for scientific research purposes provide little research beyond confirming how delicious the whales are to those who like eating them.  None of the so called published research has iindicated one needs to kill 300 whales a year for the research.  And if the motivation was research they would dispose of the corpses not sell them.

It is time for some common sense to be brought into the debate. Many whale stocks in the world are abundant and commercial whaling can be managed on a sustainable basis.

To suggest that forests, fisheries and other natural living resources are able to be commercially managed but not whales makes no sense at all.

Indeed, and here I have some sympathy for the Japanese position.

There are enough whales for both those that want to watch them and those who see whales as contributing to continued dietary traditions for their children and grandchildren.

I fully respect the right of New Zealanders and Australians to oppose whaling for some “cuddly” reasons, but this does not give them the right to coerce others to end a perfectly legal and culturally significant activity that poses no threat to the species concerned.

And I have to admit, I suspect some of the opposition is based on the “cuddly factor”.  Some is probably based on the fact that the method of killing the whales is pretty inhumane, while some will be genuine fears about whale stocks.  I’m in the latter category, and it would be nice to get some independent voices on the issue, beyond the very polarised positions of our respective Governments.

Comments (44)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment