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Japan appeals for progress at IWC meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PRESS RELEASE

January 31, 2001.

Japan appeals for progress at IWC meeting


Japan today appealed for progress at next week’s Monaco meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) calling for all countries to adopt a constructive approach towards overcoming the deadlock that has paralysed the IWC decision making process and undermines the credibility of the organisation.

The meeting in Monaco will seek to complete the Revised Management Scheme, the IWC’s proposal to manage a resumption of whaling on a new, sustainable basis. It includes the risk averse method of calculating catch quotas developed by the IWC’s Scientific Committee as well as an observation and inspection scheme that would ensure that all catches fall within these agreed limits.

Minoru Morimoto, the IWC Commissioner for Japan, today expressed Japan’s concern in a strongly worded letter to the Chairman of the Commission, Dr Bo Fernholm. The letter criticises the UK and New Zealand for attempting to delay the completion of the RMS by introducing proposed amendments that are outside the scope of the international convention that established the IWC.

Commenting Mr Morimoto said:

“The IWC has stated that it is important for the future of the Commission that we complete the RMS as quickly as possible. Japan and the other whaling nations have compromised significantly in agreeing to accept the overly conservative quota levels stipulated by the RMP and yet there seems to be no reciprocal willingness to complete the RMS.

“It is the anti-whaling nations, notably the UK and New Zealand, who for almost 10 years have been using the filibustering tactics of introducing amendments to the RMS proposal that they know are totally unacceptable to the Japanese Government and that are clearly outside the jurisdiction of the Convention,” Mr Morimoto said.

“We are now faced with two additional proposals being put forward at the Monaco meeting. The first would require the inclusion of data on whale killing methods and associated welfare issues into the RMS. The second would require DNA registration of all whale meat and monitoring of domestic markets by the IWC as well as the incorporation of catch certification data into the Revised Management Scheme.

“Since both are unduly burdensome and unnecessary they can really only be seen as another attempt by the anti-whaling nations to delay completion of the RMS.”

Mr Morimoto’s letter explains that Japan has already made substantial progress on the implementation of a comprehensive DNA sampling programme and registry that will satisfy international and Japanese concerns relating to possible illegal trade. This voluntary initiative includes sampling of all whales taken under the Japanese research programme, sampling of all frozen stockpiles of whale meat as well as the samples from all stranded animals and those caught accidentally in fishing gear. Mr Morimoto noted that “The proposal that the IWC control domestic markets is an unreasonable infringement on the authority of National Governments and the international trade in whale products is already regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)”.

The Commissioner for Japan further commented:

“Japan and Norway have for some time been conducting research into the most humane ways possible of taking whales and the results of this research have led to significant improvements in the methods now used by the fishermen. We know that today the great majority of whales die instantaneously – the image of a harpooned whale floundering for hours belongs firmly in the distant past.”

“We urge the UK and New Zealand to at least have the courage of their convictions, introducing amendments such as those to be tabled at Monaco can only serve as a further destruction of the credibility of the IWC. If these countries do not believe in the purpose of the RMP and RMS then they should follow the lead of the Australians and withdraw from the Working Group. Australia has refused to join any discussions as it has publicly stated that it is against the resumption of whaling under any circumstances. I am sure that the UK and New Zealand do not need reminding that the IWC exists to manage the sustainable harvesting of whales and is not, nor ever was, a protectionist organisation.”

“The Working Group has been charged with the task of making substantial progress on the completion of the RMS and to do that we need good faith negotiations and compromise on the part of all members of the Commission not a restatement of inflexible positions and continuing delaying tactics.” Mr Morimoto added that, “The history of negotiations on the RMS has been that the anti-whaling countries have continuously insisted on the addition of excessive and costly measures in their attempt to prevent a resumption of whaling but it must be recognized that whales have already been saved and that we are talking about a small, well regulated harvest only from abundant species.”

The Intersessional meeting of the IWC Working Group takes place at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.


For further inquiry, please contact :
The Institute of Cetacean Research
Tel: 03-3536-6521

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