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Progress Towards Commercial Whaling Resumption

Substantial Progress Made Towards Resumption Of Commercial Whaling

Press Release from the Far Seas Fisheries Division of Japan's Fisheries Agency 3 November 2001

A group of experts brought together by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has made substantial progress towards the resumption of sustainable commercial whaling, and will meet in Auckland, New Zealand, at the end of February to continue its work.

Joji Morishita, Deputy Director of the Far Seas Fisheries Division of Japan’s Fisheries Agency and who attended the meeting, said: “The group had a productive meeting and made considerable progress on agreeing the rules under which commercial whaling will be resumed.”

The Expert Drafting Group met in Cambridge, United Kingdom, to prepare a consolidated draft version of the Revised Management Scheme (RMS), the system of rules to complement the Revised Management Procedure (RMP).

In 1994, the IWC adopted the Revised Management Procedure (RMP), a conservative, risk-averse system for calculating catch quotas for abundant species of whales, following recommendation by the IWC Scientific Committee. But the IWC has been unable to agree on a system of rules to allow the resumption of whaling under the RMP and the meeting this week was to achieve agreement.

Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the United States attended the meeting.

Mr Morishita said, “The IWC’s credibility as a resource management agency has been seriously compromised in recent years by the lack of willingness on the part of some members to agree to the broadly held principle of sustainable use of whale resources. The Cambridge meeting was an attempt break through that impasse and, as such, it has been productive.”

He added, “Many species of whales are increasing and abundant and the IWC has an obligation to manage whaling under the terms of the international treaty. Even the IUCN World Conservation Union and the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have urged the IWC to complete this task.”

Although the IWC has adopted a number of resolutions stressing the need for early completion of a system of rules to allow the resumption of whaling, Japan believes some members of the IWC have previously deliberately stalled the process.

“The scientific advice is that whaling can be safely resumed. Japan has already implemented a system to ensure catches do not exceed allowable quotas and that no illegally caught whale products can enter the Japanese market. This includes a DNA register of all legally caught whales and market monitoring. Therefore, no reason to further delay the resumption of commercial whaling exists.”

Mr Morishita also noted that whales consume up to five times the amount of marine resources caught for human consumption and that this is, in many cases, in direct competition with fisheries.

“The general public still believes that whales only eat krill and fish not targeted for human consumption, however, scientific findings show that this is not the case. Many international fisheries organizations, including the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization are expressing the need for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management that takes account of the consumption of fish by whales,” Mr Morishita said.

“Even the IWC unanimously adopted a resolution at its meeting in London in July to study this matter,” he said.

Mr Morishita said, “Japan is pleased with the outcome of this meeting. We look forward to completing our work in February. This will form the basis for an agreement at the annual meeting of the IWC, to be held in Shimonoseki, Japan, next May to allow the resumption of commercial whaling for abundant whale species.”


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