Proposed Schedule amendment to permit the catching of minke whales from the Okhotsk Sea-West Pacific Stock by small-type whaling vessels, submitted by Japan
During a contentious meeting on the IWC floor yesterday, the delegation of Japan once again made its annual request for a quota for small-type whaling vessels from the Okhotsk Sea-West Pacific Stock of minke whales. Each year brings a new case for support, and a litany of reasons why Japan’s four coastal whaling towns want a quota to kill. Ultimately, the proposal item was tabled – for the gajillionth time.
Japan’s commissioner Kenji Kagawa made the following case for support to the Commission.
“Japan recognizes the importance of the cultural needs of coastal whaling communities and those areas have been impacted by the moratorium, and the need of alleviation of needs in those areas (sic). However, our requests to address those areas have always been rejected.
A lot of facets of Japanese whaling culture have in common with Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling and the IWC is granting their catch limits.
With regard to the landing, processing location and consumption of whales, the tradition of the region, the culture in the region is to be restored, as well as rituals and ceremonies would be permitted in the regions that whales historically have been hunted. We do not request to lift the moratorium, but request an exception for these areas. We have not requested a catch quota, because Japan is willing to negotiate with other nations. We are going to introduce appropriate monitoring and surveillance, which includes international monitoring by vessels, and DNA monitoring of whale meat, based on discussion.
And also, in order to secure the transparently that is to be conducted with this whaling, and accountability, Japan is willing to be accept members of IWC nations willing to serve as monitors. Japan has shown that catch of minke whale by this proposal is going to be negligible, in terms of long term sustainability of the stock, and these documents have been supplied to the Scientific Committee in 2009. We have also shown that the minke whales of ‘J’ stock are not applicable to the protection stock.
With that backdrop, we make the proposal as follows:
● The duration of the quota is 5-6 years, and 6 years in case the IWC is to be a biennial meeting instead of annual meeting (sic).
● The meat is to be used domestically.
● With regard to landing, processing, allocation and consumption of whales:
- Traditions and practices to restore original cultures are permitted only for community-based whaling.
- Whale meat and products consumed by people is limited to communities in the region.
- Catch of all stock of the Pacific and ‘J’ stock minke stock. Bycatch may occur in small numbers. However, these are negligible in terms of the long-term sustainability of these stocks.
Again, I would like to stress that this is an exception to the moratorium. Twenty five years have passed since the moratorium has taken passed in Japan. These whaling communities who have been whaling in these small coastal communities of Japan have engaged in whaling as an integral part of our history. Mr .Chairman, you and all in this room know this is a small operation and that our minke whales are healthy. Our ancestors have started using beached whales dating back thousands of years. Whale meat and blubber are a part of our traditional food. Whenever whales are caught, the first whales of the season – the meat is distributed to the community, and such traditions are passed down from generation to generation. The IWC has stipulated in the Convention that this is an international association for the sustain use of whales and orderly development off whaling.
Unfortunately, the IWC has caused us great distress for a quarter of a century. We continue to hope that the IWC will establish a minke whale quota for our communities before it renders itself entirely irrelevant to the discussion.”
(Chair Bruno Mainini solicits interventions from the Commission floor)
KOREA: Whales are taken in a lawful, sustainable, and sensitive matter. Local traditions reflect the socio-economic livelihood and nutritional needs. Korea also has a long history and background. Those who attended the meeting in 2009 will remember a presentation of the culture of whaling in Korea at Osong. This proves that whaling began (there) as early as 6,000 BC. Whaling resources has been an indispensable part of traditional foods around Osong. It is not easy to change dietary practices. We would like to consider modifications of the provisions of the Moratorium. Korea is sensitive to communities around Osong who want to resume coastal type whaling and would like to support Japan in recognizing their long tradition of whaling and nutritional needs that are similar to Korea’s.
SAINT VINCENT & THE GRENADINES: With regards to the socio-economic implications on small type whaling. Saint Vincent & the Grenadines has a very strong association with this and can identify with the coastal communities of Japan, and recognize the lack of empathy of this body with the people of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Greenland. It is difficult to understand the plight of people whose cultures are very different from ours and those who depend on marine resources for economic and sustainability reasons. There is a desire for independence for all peoples to maintain traditions and cultures and to manage their resources in their own way if that is sustainable. Saint Vincent & the Grenadines supports this proposal.
GUINEA: Within the fishing laws of Guinea, whaling is banned. As we always have, we have a Scientific Committee to define what can be removed without harming existing stocks. We need to keep in mind the traditions and the various aspects relating to peoples’ lives. So if we see no threat and we see a request submitted before us to catch a quantity that will not harm existing stocks, we do not see how we would adopt a philosophy as to why we would continue to reject such a request, so that we can continue to evaluate such requests in light of scientific advice.
AUSTRALIA: I think I need to be exceedingly clear about Australia’s statement at this time. Japan is seeking to carry out what is what amounts to a commercial whaling proposal, pure and simple. And as was stated, is an exception (to the moratorium). Australia is resolutely opposed to commercial whaling and strongly supports the moratorium. We reject the proposal resolutely. This is making a mockery of science. We cannot support a proposal that legitimizes commercial whaling. We think that efforts need be focused to recover this population and that range states need to develop a conservation plan to recover this stock.
ICELAND: The long history of this proposal shows that this organization is still having trouble functioning in a rational way. As long as the hunting is sustainable, Iceland supports the proposal by Japan.
UNITED STATES: The U.S. associates itself with the comments of Australia. We are concerned with the depletion of minke whale stocks off the coast of Japan. The U.S. supports the moratorium on commercial whaling and therefore cannot support the proposal by Japan.
RUSSIA: No one in this room can tell that whaling for such a long time as Japan (sic). Japan started to use whales 9,000 years ago. And 5,000 years ago, they were hunting for small cetaceans. And 2,000 years ago, they started hunting big whales. It seems that only Korea has a similar history. So, they were the first human beings to use this resource. Even more, the first international agreements on whaling were signed by Japan and Korea in the 19th Century. Both these countries have a long history on the use of marine mammals. Japan is requiring the quota for the four coastal villages – all of these have a long history of whaling. I’ve been to these whaling villages and have seen the celebration of the local people when they land the whale and get it to shore, both the elders and school children. That is very emotional heart-touching ceremonies (sic). That is the cultural and historical needs of these villages. It is not only important to protect biodiversity worldwide, but also cultural diversity. Therefore, I would like to support the distinguished delegation to support the cultures worldwide. Here in Panama, I visited several restaurants, and noticed that everybody is requesting the traditional dishes. As a rule, it comes to finish with hamburger or pizza. I believe it’s important to keep traditions, and so I support the proposal of Japan.
NEW ZEALAND: This is a very difficult issue. We do understand the impact of the moratorium on Japan’s communities, but that was 25 years ago. What we are asking for is an exception to the moratorium on commercial whaling. As the U.S. and Australia make clear, New Zealand cannot endorse an exception. For the stocks taken in this program, the impact is highly questionable. Therefore, we cannot support this proposal.
MEXICO: For the following reasons, we cannot support Japan’s proposal… we are a defender of the moratorium…Japan has authorized that thousands of whales be taken to supply communities, so they’re not suffering, as Japan states.
CYPRUS: Any new type of whaling operations would be commercial whaling, and in violation of the moratorium.
ECUADOR: Ecuador aligns itself with Australia and other countries submitted in rejecting the proposal made by Japan. We express our concern to sidestep the work of this Commission. The reasons described in the proposal by Japan express interest in motivating commercial whaling. We support strict adherence of the moratorium and non-lethal use of whales.
ARGENTINA: Argentina fully supports the moratorium and as we understand it, the Scientific Committee has always protected the stocks through the moratorium. In the report of the Scientific Committee, researchers who have been studying the stock structure of the minkes of the Northern Pacific cannot be determined. Therefore, before we permit any type of catch, we would prefer to have the completed Scientific Committee report on the type of impact that this type of proposal will have.
MONACO: Monaco strongly opposes commercial whaling in any forma and we therefore align ourselves with statement made by Australia, to which we do not have to change a single word.
COLOMBIA: With respect to the proposal submitted by the Government of Japan, we would like to say that we respect the right of food security of all people, but we no not support any lethal use that would end the moratorium. We fully support the moratorium, and by this avenue, a loophole maybe used, as now under Article VIII. Therefore, we support statements made my Australia, Mexico, etc.
COSTA RICA: We feel that Japan’s proposal is a way to open up commercial whaling. We fully support the moratorium and therefore fully endorse the comments made by Australia, Mexico, U.S., and others made along these lines.
CHILE: Chile would like to align itself with Argentina, Costa Rica, Australia, Mexico, and others. We cannot support this proposal by Japan, not only because the Scientific Committee has not finished its work, but because we need to be clear that an exception to the moratorium is legitimizing commercial whaling. We call on Japan, particularly due to radioactivity found in whales (off their coast) that they put a stop to the consumption of this type of meat.
BRAZIL: Brazil associates with Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Australia, Mexico, and others in comments expressed by members of those delegations. This is commercial whaling an exception to the moratorium that we cannot accept. For these reasons, we would have to oppose this proposal.
(Chair Mainini closes the period for intervening comments. No NGO will be allowed to speak on the floor at this time).
Chair Mainini to Japan: Japan, how would you like to move forward?
JAPAN: First of all, some have expressed support and I would like to express our support to them. We are all aware that there have been opposition to our proposal. We have supported Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling yesterday, and our conditions are similar. There are concerns about a commercial nature, which I cannot understand at all, but why is all whaling considered bad? There is no commercial whaling. Why are we not allowed if there is no commercial nature? According to the Rules of Procedures, we would like to adjust the proposal with related countries, and would like to request that the agenda item remain open and we will come back to it tomorrow or later.