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Denied Indigenous Whaling Quota By One Vote

24 May 2002
Alaskan And Siberian Peoples Denied Indigenous Whaling Quota By One Vote

New Zealand's IWC Commissioner Jim McLay says the 54th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission today failed by one vote to approve a quota for bowhead whales, to meet the nutritional needs of the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Siberia.

Mr McLay said in a statement from the IWC meeting at Shimonoseki in Japan that although the Commission including New Zealand voted by 32 votes to 11 to approve the quota, the required three-quarters majority was not achieved. Those countries voting against were Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Dominica, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Mongolia, Palau, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.

He said four of these countries were attending their first meeting, having only joined the IWC in the last few weeks. The vote was taken after an attempt by Japan to amend the proposal to include a quota of 25 minke whales for four Japanese coastal towns had been ruled out of order by the Chair, on the grounds that this was not a matter related to the issue of aboriginal/subsistence whaling.

At the conclusion of the vote, the explanation of vote by the New Zealand Commissioner, Hon Jim McLay, was as follows:

"Mr Chairman

"Now we have the real reason for twice blocking a quota for the Chukotka and the Inuit.

"They are to be punished for the unwillingness of this Commission to establish a new category of Small Type Commercial Whaling.

"There we have it.

"In the view of Japan and its friends, there is a moral equivalence between prosperous Japanese coastal towns and the isolated communities of Alaskan Inuit and the peoples of Chukotka.

"There is no linkage, legal or moral, between (on the one hand) requests for an aboriginal/subsistence quota where the Commission’s criteria are met and where the take is consumed, non-commercially, by local communities and (on the other hand) a request for a new category of commercial whaling, to benefit prosperous local communities.

"Mr Chairman, as I said yesterday, I do not know what the Chukotka and Inuit have done to deserve this.

"As the Arctic winter closes in on those communities, they should know that they have been punished, that their interests have been put behind those of political manipulators, and behind those of prosperous towns in temperate climates, whose people have only to walk to the corner shop to purchase their food."


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