Subject: Britain may back whaling - to (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:38:02 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 97 12:38:00 GMT 
Subject: Britain may back whaling - to

Britain may back whaling - to save the whale

  By Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA News
   Britain is prepared to back the limited resumption of commercial
whaling in a bid to try to save the species from the threat of
extinction, it emerged today.
   Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley, has written to
all MPs explaining the reasons behind the government's move, which
takes place at next week's meeting of the International Whaling
Commission in Monte Carlo.
   If it goes ahead, the proposal will give the go-ahead for
commercial killing for the first time in 11 years.
   Mr Morley wants to back an Irish proposal allowing Japan and Norway
to catch Minke whales in coastal waters.
   In return, whaling nations would have to accept the establishment
of a global sanctuary and the closing of a legal loophole which
allowed killing for "scientific" reasons.
   Whale meat is a great delicacy in Japanese restaurants and the
animal has been caught for centuries by small Norwegian fishing
   But years of illegal slaughter and the threat of extinction of some
species led to a worldwide ban in commercial killing in 1986.
   Conservationists led by Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for
Nature have always protested the legal loophole allowing these two
countries to have "scientific" catches led to far more whaling than
the official quotas.
   Both groups today voiced alarm at the prospect of Japan and Norway
being allowed to re-start commercial whaling off their coasts.
   Lucy Farmer of the WWFN told PA News: "There are a lot of
unanswered questions here. We are against the resumption of commercial
whaling. But these proposals seem to be an attempt to break the
deadlock - with whales continuing to be killed - and restoring the
credibility of the IWC."
   Richard Page, Greenpeace campaigner said the result of allowing
Japan and Norway to whale off their coasts could be "disastrous." Any
commercial whaling must be under IWC control.
   "What concerns environmental groups is that the government may be
seeking a quick political fix and not considering the long-term
implications for whale conservation."
   In his letter to MPs, Mr Morley said the planned sanctuary would be
unlikely to go ahead because of opposition from Japan and Norway.
   In these circumstances a package including limited commercial
whaling in coastal waters within IWC rules might be acceptable.
   He says: "I wish to emphasise we will only consider the possibility
of agreeing to a solution on these lines if it leads to a significant
and permanent reduction in the number of whales currently being killed
each year.
   "The UK is not committed to voting for any such change and would
only do so if it was persuaded that it would bring significant
benefits for whale conservation. We will reserve our position.
   "In the meantime, the UK will continue to support the current
moratorium and to resist any attempts to weaken it. We will of course
be making it clear that we remain opposed to Norway and Japan's
current whaling activities."
   Mr Morley says the UK government remained deeply concerned about
the cruelty involved in whaling and, with New Zealand, has campaigned
against the use of the electric lance, used to kill whales wounded but
not killed by an explosive harpoon.
   Britain would repeat its bid to change IWC rules this year and get
a ban on the use of the electric lance.