Magazine article Earth Island Journal

Japan versus Whales

Magazine article Earth Island Journal

Japan versus Whales

Article excerpt

Tensions were high on the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts during the recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In the early going, Japan lost a number of votes on several key issues. Japanese delegates had been hoping for approval to allow secret ballots (so Japan and its allies can hide their pro-whaling votes from the public back home), to allow Japan's fishermen in Taiji to return to "small-type coastal whaling" of minke whales, and to discontinue the IWC's Southern Oceans Sanctuary. Three days into the meeting, Japan at last reached a majority vote on a ballot established to protect the world's whales but also to see to the "orderly development" of the whaling industry. Substantively, the resolution (called the "St. Kitts Declaration") passed by only one vote in the divided commission and has no real impact. However, the resolution demonstrated that Japan is close to controlling the agenda of the IWC and pushing for yet more slaughter of whales.

The originally proposed St. Kitts Declaration attacked non-governmental organizations (NGOs), claimed whales were eating all the oceans' fish, and emphasized the need to "normalize" the IWC by returning to a time when whales were slaughtered.

Hearing objections to their initial draft, St. Kitts and Japan went back to the declaration to "fix" it. However, a reading of the final St. Kitts Declaration versus the original version reveals that there is no real difference between the two documents.

Conservation-minded nations objected to the new draft and expected to negotiate with Japan on the language. …

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