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Commissioners Call On IWC

The Institute Of Cetacean Research

19 January 2001

Commissioners Call On IWC To Implement Whale Management Procedure

IWC commissioners from the Neighbouring States of the North Western Pacific Region are urging the International Whaling Commission to complete the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) for the management of whaling and lift the moratorium on commercial whaling.

The commissioners from Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation met in Tokyo, Japan, from January 15 – 16, 2001 for their 4th Informal Consultation. Representatives from the People’s Republic of China were unable to attend the meeting. The General Secretary of the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO) participated as an observer.

“The delegations had a frank exchange of views on the full range of issues related to whales and whaling, and the current situation in the International Whaling Commission,” the assistant director of the Far Seas Fisheries Division of Japan’s Fisheries Agency, Takaaki Sakamoto, said today.

“The delegations discussed the need for the IWC to complete the Revised Management Procedure and lift the moratorium on commercial whaling as soon as possible. That is the only way the IWC can restore credibility as a resource management agency.”

“It is time for the IWC to stop listening to the worn-out, emotional reactions of organisations like Greenpeace and instead embrace scientific analyses that contribute to the conservation of whales as well as bring about the orderly development of the whaling industry,” Mr Sakamoto said.

Mr Sakamoto said the delegations agreed that the IWC’s RMP must be based on the provisions of the convention for the regulation of Whaling. They agreed that the supervision and control scheme must not be unduly onerous and that the costs of the scheme should be included as part of the Commission’s overall budget rather than being the sole burden of IWC members who conduct whaling.

The RMP is a set of rules and methods for managing whale populations on a species by species, area by area and stock by stock basis. It is designed to safeguard whale populations while providing for sustainable utilisation of stocks that are determined to be at healthy population levels. The IWC adopted the Revised Management Procedure in 1994 but has yet to implement it.

The countries also agreed on the need for regional cooperation in research (eg, joint researches on feeding ecology and abundance survey) and discussed the possible establishment of a regional structure that would provide the framework for co-operation related to research, conservation and sustainable utilisation of cetaceans in the western North Pacific.

Proposals and strategy for the transfer of certain whale stocks from the endangered species listing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the resumption of international trade in whale products from non-endangered species were also discussed.

The delegations also reviewed the results of co-operative research programmes carried out over the past year including the Japan-Korea joint cetacean sighting survey and the sighting survey in the Sea of Okhotsk. Plans for research in 2001 were developed.

Mr Sakamoto said the delegations reaffirmed the value of continuing and further strengthening their co-operation in these matters.

The Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea expressed their appreciation to Japan for initiatives to increase co-operation in matters related to cetaceans in the western North Pacific and for the hospitality during the meeting.

The Observer from NAMMCO explained the results of its 10th Council meeting and NAMMCO Scientific Committee’s recent studies concerning marine mammal-fisheries interactions in the North Atlantic. “The NAMMCO observer said their studies show that minke whales consume significant quantities of fish and have substantial direct and/or indirect impacts on fisheries in the North Atlantic,” Mr Sakamoto said.

Mr Sakamoto said it was vital for the reputation of the IWC that it began very real work on implementing the Revised Management Procedure.

The IWC was set up in 1946 out of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The convention was agreed to by 14 nations to “make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry”. There are now 40 member nations of the IWC.

It was agreed the 5th Informal Consultation of IWC Commissioners of the North Western Pacific Region would be held at a time agreeable to all parties. NAMMCO would also be invited to attend the next meeting as an observer.


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