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 user 2007-05-31 at 11:54:00 am Views: 54
  • #18202

    Whale meeting condemns Japan hunt
    International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting has passed a
    resolution condemning Japan’s scientific hunting programme in the

    catches nearly 1,000 whales there each year in the name of
    research.After an acrimonious debate, a large number of countries
    refused to vote, saying the resolution was illegitimate.There was,
    however, consensus support for a motion censuring environmental groups
    which try to hinder Japan’s Antarctic programme.Both Greenpeace and the
    Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have tried to block the programme in
    recent years, culminating in a damaging collision between Japanese and
    Sea Shepherd vessels in the recent Antarctic season for which each
    party blames the other.It was just about the only sign of common ground
    in a day marked by the entrenched positions and political posturing
    which has bedevilled this organisation for years.

    ‘Stain on the commission’
    International Whaling Commission (IWC) member is entitled to hunt
    whales for scientific research, but anti-whaling countries view the
    size and scope of Japan’s programmes in the Antarctic and north Pacific
    as going far beyond what was envisaged when the IWC’s constitution, the
    International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, was drawn up in
    1946.Resolutions calling for a halt have materialised regularly.”Every
    scientific catch is a stain on the record of this commission,” said
    Monaco’s whaling commissioner Frederic Briand.”The best thing Japan
    could do is to reduce the size of its scientific whaling programmes
    around the world.”The IWC’s scientific committee recently reviewed
    Japan’s Antarctic programme, and New Zealand’s conservation minister
    Chris Carter was not too impressed with their conclusions.Japanese
    hunters “killed 7,000 whales over 18 years, and couldn’t even decide
    how many whales there are,” he fumed.This was in marked contrast to the
    St Kitts commissioner Cedric Liburd, who said: “This research provided
    significant data enabling us to understand the structure and abundance
    of whale populations.

    Every scientific catch is a stain on the record of this commission Frederic Briand   Monaco’s whaling commissioner

    find [this resolution] extremely disturbing, vexatious and in some ways
    irrelevant,” he said.”It is frivolous, devoid of action and
    meaningless.”Virtually all of the pro-whaling bloc abstained from the
    vote, leading to a majority of 40 to 2.It makes no material difference,
    as Japan is not obliged to comply.Nevertheless, it is viewed by
    environmental groups as an important weapon in the battle for hearts
    and minds.

    All at sea
    Environmental organisations Greenpeace
    and Sea Shepherd came under fire themselves in a resolution
    co-ordinated by Japan and New Zealand.It was the only concrete sign so
    far of the common ground which both sides said they were seeking before
    the meeting convened.The resolution, which says that member governments
    “do not condone, and in fact condemn, any actions that are a risk to
    human life and property in relation to the activities of vessels at
    sea,” passed by consensus.”We maintain that our protests are peaceful
    and non-violent,” commented Shane Rattenbury of Greenpeace
    International.”Greenpeace has 35 years of history of being non-violent;
    but I’m sure the Japanese government will attempt to wave it in our
    face and say ‘you shouldn’t be undertaking these protests’.”Sea
    Shepherd’s record is rather different, having been implicated in
    attacks on whaling vessels spanning more than two decades.It is notable
    that while Greenpeace is allowed into the meeting here, Sea Shepherd is
    not.Parts of the resolution can also be interpreted as a rebuke to
    Japan, particularly an injunction to “have regard to protecting… the
    fragile Antarctic environment.”The meeting looked like running late
    into its penultimate evening, with several major issues unresolved.