Friday, June 1, 2007

Japan versus the International Whaling Commission

Is Japan making the International Whaling Commission unable to execute its mandate in maintaining the welfare of the worlds shrinking whale population?

By: Vanessa Uy

The International Whaling Commission’s venue this year: 59th Annual IWC Meeting Anchorage Alaska 2007- promises to improve the present conditions of the world’s whales. Except they had not been able to stop Japan from hunting whales with impunity-all in the name of “scientific research.” Since the 1986 whaling moratorium, Japan has been steadily increasing “scientific catch” quotas that present day quotas are double that of 10 years ago. Japan has been able to do this because of some legal loophole of the IWC “Article 8” which permits scientific whaling. Whaling is never humane though because it results in the whale dying a slow painful death, which usually lasts 90 minutes on average.

Japan’s plea to the International Whaling Commission to restart whaling in the name of tradition only generates worldwide condemnation. This is quite paradoxical because almost all of Japanese youths no longer follow the tradition of eating whale meat. Because of this increasingly large quantities of whale meat now languish in Japan’s cold storage facilities. The Japanese chapter of Greenpeace has been appalled by the Japanese government’s planned resumption of large scale whaling despite of the huge whale meat surplus.

Various environmental groups like Greenpeace are increasingly concerned on the IWC allowing the subsistence whaling of indigenous groups because these groups use vessels intended for large scale industrial whaling. This oversight needs to be reevaluated by the IWC.

Today only 36,000 sperm whales remain in our oceans and the humpback whale-the favorite of whale watchers due to their acrobatic leaps-are only 10,000 strong. And remember; humpback whales are featured in the movie “Star Trek: The Voyage Home.” This movie is considered a beginner’s guide to whale conservation by most environmentalists. The only species of whale whose numbers is on the rise are the minkie whale. Even then, environmental groups doubt that their present population can support the scale of industrial whaling that prevailed in the last century. Japans desperation to restart her whaling industry has forced her to resort to vote buying on poor member countries of the IWC via development aid.

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