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Future bleak for International Whaling Commission

Future bleak for International Whaling Commission

The failure of the International Whaling Commission to reach a compromise agreement between the 88 pro- and anti-whaling contracting nations is extremely disappointing and its future is indeed bleak, Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Maori Fisheries Trust, says.

Te Ohu Kaimoana’s chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana and chief executive officer Peter Douglas return this week from attending the IWC’s sixty-second annual meeting held in Agadir, Morocco.

They praised the efforts of Foreign Minister Murray McCully and New Zealand’s Commissioner to the IWC, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, in attempting to broker a deal between the polarised factions.

“We praise the hard work and diplomatic negotiations carried out by Sir Geoffrey and Mr McCully. We are extremely disappointed they could not broker an agreement. Japan, Iceland and other whaling nations were hugely committed to the process. The fault lies, in our view, with recalcitrant anti-whaling members who refused to move from their unreasonable and unacceptable position of an immediate and complete cessation of whaling,” Mr Douglas said.

“We understand it the objective to end whaling in the Southern Ocean, but for Australia to think that can be achieved in one annual meeting held over one week is naïve in the least, and publicly manipulative and politically misleading at its worst.

“Japan wants to reduce its Antarctic operations. That was obvious through the negotiations. But when Western nations continue to resolutely oppose limited commercial whaling among Japan’s four coastal communities, it leaves Japan no alternative but to continue in the Antarctic,” Mr Douglas said.

Te Ohu Kaimoana chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said too many Western delegations are dominated by the green NGO groups. “Most countries at the IWC can get what they want. But they need to stand up to the green NGO establishment to do so. If they keep pushing for the extreme version, the whaling countries will keep pushing back. But one day they will push, and there will be nothing there pushing back, and the international community will have no say in whaling operations,” Mr Tomoana said.

Anti-whaling countries and green NGOs cannot achieve their goals to end all whaling because the legal power at the IWC lies with the whaling countries.

“The wealthy non-government green organisations have a commercial interest in the continued dysfunction of the IWC, and they disempower governments through spreading fear to the public and the media, who in turn give their views too many column inches,” Mr Tomoana said. “Examples are the public statements by many green NGOs that Japan was not compromising at the IWC when this was completely untrue. Japan offered significant concessions to the negotiations.”

“I understand some members of the public may not fully understand this, but it is important to know that environmental NGOs have the wealth and the power to dictate how some anti-whaling nations vote within the IWC,” Mr Tomoana said.

It is only through attending the IWC that these considered opinions can be formulated. The worst case has been how NGOs have worked to keep indigenous whaling peoples in an 18th Century subsistence category. It is time to recognise there are two types of whaling – sustainable whaling based on science and unsustainable, unregulated and unreported whaling. Te Ohu Kaimoana supports the former and opposes the latter. In this context, it is time to remove the no-commerce element from indigenous and coastal whaling,” Mr Tomoana said.

He added that the green NGOs have been influencing anti-whaling governments to reject Greenland’s proposal for a quota for humpback whales, but through understanding and compromise the quota was approved this year.

While the 88 members of the IWC are in a “cooling off” period following the breakdown of intense negotiations, Te Ohu Kaimoana believes discussions must continue on a regional and bilateral basis with the objective of reducing significantly or ending Southern Ocean whaling, providing Japan with an equitable quota in its own waters, and delivering a more equitable solution to indigenous whaling operations.


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