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 user 2006-06-19 at 1:11:00 pm Views: 51
  • #15695

    Disaster looms for whales
    Caribbean nation St Kitts to host a disaster for whales
    Japan poised to control the International Whaling Commission

    2006Frigate Bay, Saint Kitts and Nevis – The international body charged
    by the UN with protecting the whales is about to be taken over by the
    world’s most consistently and aggressively pro-whaling government. How
    could this happen? In an environmentally aware world, why are we seeing
    a roll back of 20 years of progress on such a fundamental issue? The
    answer lies is in a tangle of politics, economics and international
    bureaucracy, and reveals there might be hope for the future of the
    whales after all.

    The reality of vote buying
    main reason behind this reversal is the Japanese government’s
    determined, and expensive, vote buying program.  Japan has one of the
    world’s largest economies (third globally by purchasing power), and it
    is no secret Japan leverages foreign aid for political gain.  As
    reported recently in the Taipei Times:Earlier this year it [Japan]
    pledged more than US$1 million to the Pacific island of Tuvalu, a
    pro-whaling IWC member, and has reached similar deals with Nauru and
    Kiribati and other desperately poor countries in the Pacific. Last week
    it is believed to have offered a large aid package to other Pacific
    countries. It has also invited the heads of state of seven African
    countries and eight Caribbean and Central American countries to visit
    Tokyo in the last year. All are expected to vote with Japan at St
    Kitts.At least US$300 million was given last year to Antigua, Dominica,
    Grenada, Panama, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts
    and Nevis.Japan’s whalers are so certain their control of the IWC is
    assured, last whaling season they increased their self allotted
    Antarctic quota to a maximum of 945 whales – including 10 endangered
    fin whales (second in size only to blue whales).  In the 2007/8 it goes
    higher as they up the number of fin to 50, and add another 50
    endangered humpbacks on top of that.  The whalers already catch so many
    whales there isn’t room on their factory ship for all the meat, and a
    refrigerated cargo ship is sent to the Antarctic to take boxes of whale
    meat back to Japan.  Even still, they dump tons of whale overboard -
    taking home only the more profitable cuts.  After all, why not?  Who is
    there to tell them otherwise?  Up till now, the IWC has regularly
    condemned Japan’s so called “scientific” whaling, but with the whaler’s
    in control it will more likely pat them on the back.

    Governments stand up to whaling
    of the governments that helped enact the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
    (1994) and moratorium on commercial whaling (1986) have, in fact, tried
    to protect these gains. This past year 17 nations (including Brazil,
    Australia and the UK) issued a strongly worded diplomatic demarche
    pointing out:”Japan is now killing more whales in the Antarctic every
    year than it killed for scientific research in the 31 years prior to
    the introduction of the moratorium on commercial whaling.”The
    governments further expressed “grave concerns” that the ongoing hunt,
    “will undermine the long-term viability,” of both fin and humpback
    whales.  But it looks like this strong diplomatic action, and
    ministerial level visits to some new IWC members, will not be enough to
    keep Japan from taking over.  The reality is that the Japanese
    government has chosen to spend more money and political capital on
    whaling than governments in favour of protecting the whales.  There is
    on some levels probably a disbelief that the whalers can win back
    control of the IWC – intuitively it just doesn’t make sense considering
    the mess they made of it before sanity prevailed in the early
    eighties.  But for years now the warning signs have been clear.  No
    matter what happens at this year’s meeting, it should be a wake up call
    for the conservation minded governments of the world.

    So who is there left to stop whaling?
    the people reading these words.  From here on it’s largely down to us. 
    And around the world individuals are banding together in common cause
    to defend the whales.  During the last whaling season we took on Nissui
    - one of the world’s largest seafood companies and also a one-third
    shareholder in Kyodo Senpaku, which owns and operates the whaling
    fleet.  Across the planet, Nissui subsidiaries heard from angry
    shoppers.  Organizations like the Humane Society and Environmental
    Investigations Agency joined in. Greenpeace Ocean Defenders sent a
    total of 100,000 emails to Nissui-related companies. And Nissui lost
    seafood supply contracts in Argentina after Ocean Defenders placed
    stickers denouncing whaling on Nissui products in supermarkets and sent
    more than 20,000 emails.  Before the whaling season was over, Nissui
    had decided to get out of the whaling industry because, as reported in
    the Nikkan Kugyo Shimbun “Overseas subsidiaries are having big
    problems. As our business has globalized, whaling has become a hidden
    risk”, said Mr. Naoya Itagaki, the president of Nissui which takes the
    brunt of the criticisms against its involvement in whaling because of
    their share holding position in Kyodo-Senpaku.
    (June 8th 2006, morning edition, Greenpeace translation)
    reality, Nissui’s move was simply good business sense.  Aside from
    international pressure, demand for whale meat has plummeted, even in
    Japan.  Stockpiles of whale meat there have nearly doubled over the
    last decade to 5,000 tonnes.  There’s so much unwanted whale meat that
    it’s being sold as doggie treats, and an expanded school lunch program
    is in the works – with the hope of getting Japanese kids used to eating
    it.  The whaling industry in Norway is experiencing similar
    difficulties.Would Japan’s take over of the International Whaling
    Commission be a disastrous setback for the whales?  Yes.  But would it
    be the end of the story?  We will see about that.