Japan wins pro-whaling vote – Fishupdate.com

Japan wins pro-whaling vote Published:  19 June, 2006

JAPAN and other whaling nations on Sunday for the first time in more than two decades got a whaling group to criticise a global whaling ban, signalling they might finally have the muscle to challenge the moratorium, Reuters has reported.

The approval of a non-binding pro-whaling declaration by the International Whaling Commission, or IWC, does not immediately threaten the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, which saved the Earth’s largest creatures from extinction and which Japan would like to overturn. But in backing by 33 votes to 32 a statement that said the whaling ban was no longer necessary, whales were responsible for depleting fish stocks and non-governmental organisations were a “threat”, the IWC boosted Japan’s hopes of chipping away at the ban. There was one abstention.

“This is a huge disaster,” Kitty Block of Humane Society International reportedly said after the vote at a June 16-20 meeting of the commission in the Caribbean island state of St. Kitts and Nevis. “This is now going to be their propaganda.”

Japan has abided by the moratorium since it came into force two decades ago, but, along with Iceland, uses a legal loophole to conduct scientific whaling. Norway is the only country that ignores the ban. More than 25,000 whales have been hunted and killed since the moratorium. Even so, Japan and its allies have sought to return the IWC to its 1946 roots as an organisation that regulates whaling, and they have encouraged new pro-whaling nations to join the commission in the hope of wresting control from protectionists. They would need 75 percent of votes in the IWC to actually end the moratorium.

“Anti-whaling countries might see this as an ending,” Joji Morishita, Japan’s alternate commissioner at the IWC reportedly said. “This is the beginning of a new time for the IWC,” Morishita said, adding he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the next year witnessed a frantic IWC recruitment drive by both sides.

www.fishupdate.com is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.