ICELAND'S ATTEMPT TO RESUME COMMERCIAL WHALING
London, Monday 23rd July, 2001: Iceland's attempt to resume
commercial whaling immediately was rejected by the International
Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in London today.
Iceland, which quit the IWC in 1992, wanted to rejoin the
Commission with a reservation to the current international
moratorium on commercial whaling and announced that it wanted
the moratorium overturned as quickly as possible so whaling could
Today, after a series of votes, the IWC concluded that Iceland will
only have observer status during this week's meeting and will not
be allowed to vote on key issues, such as the possible resumption
of commercial whaling or whether to establish a new whale
sanctuary in the South Pacific.
Before the votes, the world's other two pro-whaling countries,
Norway and Japan, tried to support Iceland's through a series of
legal manoeuvres. The whaling nations were backed up by at least
nine countries that Japan has bought with foreign aid packages to
vote with it at the IWC (1). This resulted in the votes being very
Greenpeace Whale Campaigner Richard Page said: "Greenpeace
is relieved that Iceland's brazen attempt to undermine the IWC has
been defeated. But the fact that the votes were so close is the
direct result of Japan's vote rigging of the commission and is of
(1) Six East Caribbean nations, plus Guinea, the Solomons and
Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International on + 31 6 535 04701
Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK on + 44 7801 212 993
For further information see http://whales.greenpeace.org
Subject: JAPANESE VOTE BUYING SINKS SOUTH PACIFIC
>JAPANESE VOTE BUYING SINKS SOUTH PACIFIC WHALE SANCTUARY
>London 24th July 2001: Measures to further protect the world's whales
>were today undermined when South Pacific nations were denied their right
>to a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary (SPWS). Opposition from Japan, Norway
>and the block of countries that vote with Japan in return for Overseas
>Development Aid (1), prevented the sanctuary proposal from achieving the
>three quarters majority it needed to be adopted.
>"Yet again Japan's vote buying means that South Pacific Nations have been
> denied their right to a whale sanctuary," said Pio Manoa, Greenpeace
>whale campaigner from Fiji, who is attending the IWC meeting in London.
>"The fact that Japan has bought the votes of many developing countries,
>some of which are island states, is a slap in the face to the South
>Pacific and has grave consequences for the future protection of whales"
>South Pacific Nations have repeatedly requested that the sanctuary be
>established, most recently in a statement issued in Apia, Samoa in April
>2001 (2). The proposal had the backing of South Pacific island states
>whose waters it would have covered and the majority support of countries
>at the IWC meeting.(3)
>Today's vote followed last week's startling admission from a senior
>Japanese official that Japan has been using development aid to buy votes
>at the IWC (4). Japan is openly corrupting the IWC in order to prevent
>further conservation of whales and to advance its pro-whaling
>initiatives. Norway, Japan's closest ally at the IWC and the only other
>country that actively whales commercially, at present refuses to denounce
>Japanese vote buying and is actively benefiting from it.
>Unless challenged, Japan's vote buying is set to continue. Namibia and
>Gabon, who recently signed lucrative fisheries deals with Japan, have now
> become observers of the IWC. It is expected that by next year's IWC
>meeting in Shimonoseki, Japan, May 2002, Namibia and Gabon will have
>become fully fledged members and will vote in support of Japan and
>Norway's pro- whaling initiatives.
>"It is scandalous that Japan can simply buy its own way at the IWC and
>undermine the will of a vast majority of people worldwide who want to see
> whales protected. Unless the international community publicly condemns
>this blatant corruption, it may only a matter of months before we see a
>return to full scale commercial whaling and international trade in whale
>products," concluded Manoa.
>Notes to Editors:
>Twenty countries voted in favour of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary,
>thirteen against it. Ireland, Oman, Morocco and the Solomon Islands
>abstained on the vote.
> Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Rep of Guinea, St Kitts and
> Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines and Panama.Others that
> voted against the proposal were: China, Denmark, Japan, Korea and
>(2) The Apia Statement was signed by: Ministers of Australia, Fiji,
>Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau;
>Ministerial Representatives from Cook Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga;
>Representatives of American Samoa, New Caledonia, French Polynesia,
>Wallis and Futuna.
>(3) Countries that voted in favour of the proposal were: Argentina,
>Australia, Chile, Finland, Germany, India, Mexico, Monaco, South Africa,
>Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, Brazil, France, Italy,
>the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.
>(4) In interview broadcast on ABC TV last week, a senior Japanese
>official, Mr Komatsu, described minke whales as 'cockroaches of the sea'
>and admitted that Japan saw development aid as 'a major tool' in ensuring
> that key developing countries voted in favour of whaling at the IWC.
>For further information contact
><http://whales.greenpeace.org>http://whales.greenpeace.org or call:
>Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International + 31 6 535 04701
>Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK on + 44 7801 212 993
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