Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Nations in flare up at whaling commission in Brazil

Nations in flare up at whaling commission in Brazil

Iceland, which along with Norway, ignores the 32-year moratorium on commercial whaling, said the Brazilian document - which would outlaw Japan's "scientific" hunt - "is meant to be divisive".

Japan's acting commissioner Hideki Moronuki said Tokyo could not support host country Brazil's vision for the future of the IWC - the Florianopolis Declaration - because it made no provision for lifting a 32-year moratorium on commercial whaling.

"Instead of the archaic and completely unnecessary hunting of whales, the protection and peaceful and purely non-lethal usage of whales, which includes whale watching, should now be the focus of our efforts", said Nicolas Entrup of Swiss-based NGO OceanCare.

Some, however, say the research program remains a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is sold for food.

"Science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably", the Japanese proposal said.

Japan observes an worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling but exploits a loophole to kill hundreds of whales every year for "scientific purposes" as well as to sell the meat.

"I would be disappointed if the countries that supported aboriginal whaling earlier went along with this", said Iceland's whaling commissioner Stefan Asmundsson.

This first vote at the International Whaling Commission shows how determined the whaling nations are to oppose sensible conservation measures and to obstruct the IWC's evolution as a full-fledged conservation body.

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Australia's commissioner Nick Gales rejected "the narrative of underlying dysfunction and intolerance" suggested by Japan.

Some members have voiced fears that Japan and pro-whaling nations could leave the IWC after the meeting ends on Friday.

New Zealand's Commissioner Amy Laurenson, speaking in favor of the sanctuary, told the meeting it was about protecting whales, "not about determining the outcome for other areas of the world".

Gavin Carter, an ocean management consultant, said the proposal "has the feel of a final attempt to resolve issues that have dogged the IWC for decades".

It ran counter to what U.N. Member States agreed with the Sustainable Development Goals, "to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, noted that Japan has frequently threatened to pull out of the body. "The whaling nations have not moved on".

However, some anti-whaling delegates said it showed the lack of preparation by proposing countries to let potential votes leak away due to a procedural matter, adding that Japan was altogether more efficient in preparing the political ground.

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