Good News: No Movement on Resumption of Commercial Whaling

An intercessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Monaco from February 6-8 failed to act on a "revised management scheme" (RMS) that would allow the resumption of commercial whaling. In fact, the three day long wrangle in the palatial setting of the Oceanographic Museum illustrated the severity of the rifts between whaling countries and those who support whale protection. In the discussions, Japan and Norway refused to consider the inclusion of elements into the RMS that would establish international observers on whaling boats, an international DNA tracking system of whalemeat sold and consideration of humane methods of whale killing.

The drive towards embracing an RMS is fueled by concern that whaling countries will again go to CITES next year and claim that the IWC is dragging its feet on allowing commercial whaling, and request that the issue be taken away from the IWC. CITES would usurp the IWC's primacy on this issue if whale populations now listed as protected under CITES are "downlisted," reducing their protection and allowing the international sale of their parts.

This threat by whaling countries is given weight by the Japanese recruitment of small developing countries to attend IWC and CITES. Currently, five Caribbean countries vote in lockstep with Japan in trade for economic assistance.

AWI opposes any management scheme that would legitimize commercial whaling. The history of whaling details a long litany of cheating and lying about numbers and species of whales killed. Urgent threats to whales such as climate change, disease, toxic contamination and the dramatic increase of manmade sound in the oceans must be recognized by the IWC; it should not legitimize commercial whale killing with no thought to these basic problems.

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