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Taryn Kiekow Heimer’s Blog

Good News for the Whales - IWC Delays Whaling "Compromise"

Taryn Kiekow Heimer

Posted June 23, 2010

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After two years of secret, closed door meetings, delegates of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) decided at this morning’s meeting to delay action on the “compromise” proposal that would have sanctioned commercial whaling.  If the “compromise” is indeed off the table, it is a huge victory for the whales.  The so-called “compromise” would have legalized commercial whaling and rewarded Japan, Norway, and Iceland for their years of defiance of international law.

To achieve a compromise, anti-whaling nations were prepared to trade away the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling – which has saved hundreds of thousands of whales – in an attempt to bring Japan, Norway and Iceland’s rogue whaling under the control of the IWC.  But the pro-whaling nations continued to insist on the right to kill endangered, threatened and vulnerable species – some in designated whale sanctuaries – as well as the right to trade in whale meat and products. 

This would not have been a compromise.   It would have been a capitulation to whaling nations.  And the fact the IWC refused to adopt it – at least in the short term – is a win for the whales. 

The compromise proposal remains open on the IWC’s agenda (which means anything can happen), but it looks likely that the Commission will endorse a year-long “cooling off” period.

The IWC must now reaffirm its dedication to the preservation and protection of whales around the world.   Every day marine mammals face new attacks from entanglement, ship strikes, ocean noise pollution, bioaccumulation of toxins, and climate change.  Given these unprecedented pressures, now is the time for the IWC to rise to the challenge and really focus on the conservation of whales. 

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JonJun 23 2010 01:42 PM

WHAT THE FISH!? do we need whales for anyways...the oils can be easily simulated, there is very little nutritional value that can be easily obtained elsewhere. I've eaten muktuk and it really isn't all that.

JDamerJun 23 2010 03:56 PM

How is this good news?
The "compromise" would NOT have LEGALIZED whaling by the 3 whaling nations, it's already legal under IWC regulations. How is NOT CLOSING THESE LOOPHOLES "good news"?
Anyone against this propsal is killing more whales. Even the US, New Zealand, WWF Greenpeace, Pew Group are all supporting a compromise.
So how is this good news for the whales?

Taryn KiekowJun 23 2010 07:04 PM

Thank you for your comments. While it’s true that Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to kill whales in spite of the moratorium by exploiting loopholes in the Convention (Japan under the guise of “scientific whaling” and Norway and Iceland using objections and reservations), this deal could have opened the floodgates even further by actually legalizing commercial whaling. And make no mistake – this deal absolutely would have legitimized commercial whaling. It would have replaced the catch limits for commercial whaling in Section 10(e) of the Schedule amendments – which are currently set at zero – with primarily politically-derived numbers. The catch limits were thought up by diplomats long before the diplomats thought to involve the IWC’s Scientific Committee. Thus, the moratorium would have survived in name only, and the Commission would have been in the business of setting quotas to kill whales for profit -- without ever seeking to end commercial whaling.

The proposal also contained other fatal flaws. It would have sanctioned commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean – a sanctuary established by the IWC in 1994 to protect whales. But it never provided for a phase down or out of commercial whaling. Nor would it have closed the loopholes that Japan, Norway and Iceland are currently exploiting, because it did not contain any timetables or provisions to reform Article V (objections), Article VIII (special permits) or reservations to the Convention. Finally, it wouldn’t have prevented whaling nations from trading whale meat and products – which would have been akin to throwing a lifeline to a dying industry.

The moratorium has saved hundreds of thousands of whales since 1986 and was not worth sacrificing in the name of a bad deal (even if the deal had good intentions).

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