In the coming weeks you are going to hear much about International Whaling Commission (IWC), particularly the Intersessional Meetings coming up next week. One of these, the Small Working Group on the Future of the IWC will be discussing the controversial draft "deal" that would permit commercial whaling (basically legitimizing the controversial "scientific" kill) in the Antarctic, for 10 years in exchange for a slight quota cut.
One might be wondering how this is even possible. We often say that the commercial whaling moratorium is one of the greatest conservation victories of all time, and everyone loves whales - how is it that it's now threatened? Well for years there has been a rift at the IWC. On one side are the three whaling nations (Norway, Iceland and Japan) who already hunt whales despite the commercial whaling moratorium, using loopholes in the treaty (the "scientific hunt"). These nations, and a flank of supporters, want to legitimize these renegade operations, export whale products and, ultimately, increase their hunts.
So far the anti-whaling nations have been able to block the whalers’ various efforts to lift the bans on commercial whaling and trade. However, these nations represent a wide spectrum of views ranging from hard-line opposition to whaling to a policy of appeasement or containment. The desire to appease and compromise by some is born out of years of stalemates within the IWC where positions have become entrenched and no headway is made. Some of the conservationist think lifting the ban will be better for whale populations because at least scientific quotas could be set. Where as now those nations that hunt under the guise of science make their own quotas.
Unfortunately, many formally staunch opponents of whaling, including the US and New Zealand, have been reported to seriously be considering the compromise, even though it fails to shut down Japan's so-called scientific hunt and allows all three whaling nations to continue hunting. WDCS and others believe those governments considering a “deal” underestimate the tenacity of the whalers and overestimate the likelihood of success when the deal reaches the light of day. If adopted, this deal will open the floodgates for other countries to restart or expand their own whaling. WDCS has called for the rejection of the deal as unworkable, unenforceable and dangerous for the conservation of whales.
Sue Fisher, WDCS whaling expert has said, "Those of us working on this issue for decades know first-hand that whaling is a complex and tangled web of legal, economic, scientific and cultural issues. There are no easy fixes. Most importantly, over the course of other ‘compromise deals’ that have been tabled since the early 1990s-- when the whaling nations first drove a harpoon through the moratorium -- we have learned not to trust them. If you don’t nail down every detail at the IWC, and close off every possible loophole, the whalers will take advantage of any openings in this effort to amend the whaling treaty."
But it is a sure sign that the "deal" is a bad one for whales when the Japanese government is welcoming the compromise as a gateway to the resumption of full-fledged commercial whaling and Norwegian whalers celebrate the deal as a way to recruit new whalers and to export their whale meat to Japan
WDCS will be present at these meetings to argue that a weak deal which legitimizes the current whaling, doesn’t stop international trade, and opens the door to future increases is worse than no deal at all.You can get up-to-the minute news about these discussions from our expert in attendance by following WDCS on twitter http://twitter.com/WHALES_org and http://twitter.com/alleyesonIWC