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Commissioners Denounce Whale Sanctuary

The Institute Of Cetacean Research

20 January 2001

IWC commissioners from the Neighbouring States of the North Western Pacific Region have collectively denounced the Australia-New Zealand proposal for a sanctuary in the South Pacific on the grounds it is not scientifically based and would be contrary to the IWC’s responsibilities of managing whale resources in a sustainable manner.

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 assistant director of the Far Seas Fisheries Division of Japan’s Fisheries Agency, Takaaki Sakamoto, said the delegations agreed that the proposal for a sanctuary in the South Pacific was not based on any scientific analysis.

He said its establishment would be contrary to the IWC’s function of managing whale resources in a sustainable manner, as is the Southern Ocean Sanctuary set up in 1994.

“The proposal for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary is based on emotional reasons rather than scientific ones and is contrary to the world standard of sustainable utilisation. The IWC commissioners at the meeting are very strong in their opposition against such a proposal,” Mr Sakamoto said.

He said that the IWC’s Revised Management Procedure (RMP) would render totally unnecessary a sanctuary such as this and other proposals for sanctuaries.

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.

Mr Sakamoto also said there was also a need to take into account consumption of marine resources by cetaceans. “There is a need to consider that cetaceans consume three to five times the amount of marine resources harvested for human consumption. There is also the increasing understanding in many international and regional fisheries organisations that marine resources should be managed on an ecosystem or multi-species basis,” he said.

“The delegations agree that the IWC must 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 from a number of whaling nations to bring about the orderly development of the whaling industry,” Mr Sakamoto said.

The IWC was formed in 1946 as a result 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.


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