Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 7 News List

IWC approves Brazilian proposal to protect whales

‘NO PRECEDENT’:One consultant said the idea of a permanent ban on whaling ran counter to the UN’s global goals to sustainably use marine resources


Tempers flared on Thursday at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as it voted to back a Brazilian proposal that would safeguard the marine mammals in perpetuity, after a bitter debate.

The two-yearly meeting of the 89-nation body passed the host country’s “Florianopolis Declaration,” which sees whaling as no longer being a necessary economic activity.

The nonbinding agreement was backed by 40 countries, with 27 pro-whaling states voting against.

“We now have an important instrument to guide our path,” Brazilian commissioner Hermano Ribeiro said.

The declaration — meant to enshrine a common vision for the 72-year old body — was angrily rejected by pro-whaling states. They have instead backed a Japanese proposal that envisages a “coexistence” between conservation and commercial whaling.

Antigua and Barbuda commissioner Deven Joseph robustly dismissed the host country’s resolution as “a nonbinding, irresponsible, abnormal, inconsistent, deceptive and downright wrong resolution.”

“We will never reach any sort of consensus,” he told the meeting, decrying the lack of consultations, which he said should have taken into account the views of pro-hunt states.

“They can take this organization and send it to the abyss where whales go when they die,” he added.

The commission immediately began debating Japan’s counterproposal for the organization. It envisages a “Way Forward,” a twin-track future of conservation and commercial whaling that would be managed by a new “Sustainable Whaling Committee.”

“Science is clear: There are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably,” said the Japanese proposal, put forward by acting Japanese commissioner Hideki Moronuki.

Japanese commissioner Joji Morishita is currently the commission’s chairman.

Japan observes an international moratorium on commercial whaling, but uses a provision to kill hundreds of whales every year for scientific purposes, as well as to sell the meat.

Norway and Iceland ignore the moratorium and are key supporters of Japan’s bid to resume commercial whaling.

Countries on both sides of the debate on Wednesday voted to renew quotas for limited hunts for indigenous communities in Alaska, Russia, Greenland and the Caribbean — taking into account their cultural and subsistence needs.

Australian commissioner Nick Gales pushed back against suggestions that his country’s support for aboriginal whaling was at odds “with our opposition to the commerce of whaling. It is not.”

Australia in 2014 took Japan to the International Court of Justice and won a ruling outlawing its “scientific program” in the Antarctic Ocean. Japan has since started a different program.

Gales told the meeting that given “the manner and rate” of Japan’s lengthy proposal to the commission, it was difficult to escape the conclusion that the presentation had been “designed and brought forward with the intent and in the clear knowledge it will fail.”

Some members have voiced fears that Japan and pro-whaling nations could leave the commission after the meeting ended yesterday.

Ocean management consultant Gavin Carter said the proposal “has the feel of a final attempt to resolve issues that have dogged the IWC for decades.”

He told the meeting that the idea of “permanent no-take” from the ocean backed by anti-whaling groups “has no precedent.”

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