Subject: IWC: Ireland strives to sell contro (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:29:10 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Thu, 23 Oct 97 02:51:00 GMT 
Subject: Ireland strives to sell contro

Ireland strives to sell controversial whaling plan

    MONACO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Ireland, seeking to break a
deadlock at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), embarked
on a campaign on Wednesday to sell a controversial plan to lift
a ban on commercial whaling.
     "I'm talking to other commissioners and trying to estimate
how much consensus there is on individual items," Irish whaling
commissioner Michael Canny told Reuters. "I'm still
     Most IWC member governments expressed serious misgivings
about the plan outlined on Tuesday which seems as unpopular with
the anti-whaling camp as it does with whaling nations.
     Canny said he expected to know by the close of the IWC
annual meeting on Friday whether there was enough support to
warrant a formal proposal in time for next year's IWC meeting in
     The plan would ban whaling on the high seas but allow some
hunting in coastal areas for local consumption and under the
strict control of the IWC.
     "Scientific whaling" -- killing whales for research as the
Japanese do -- would be phased out.
     Opponents of whaling, such as Britain, Australia and the
United States, reject any move to allow commercial whaling even
though Japan and Norway already defy IWC resolutions and have
stepped up their whaling activities in recent years.
     "It doesn't look like there will be consensus, not at this
stage," said a delegate from one of the anti-whaling countries.
"The whalers are conceding nothing."
     Norway's response has been guarded, but its whalers oppose
any plan limiting consumption of whale meat and products to
local areas. The Norwegians are keen to export whale blubber,
which is not popular domestically but prized in Japan.
     Japan's delegates say the clause banning high seas whaling
contravenes the IWC's mandate to regulate whaling through
regulations designed to preserve whale stocks.
     Canny said Japan also opposes the ban on lethal "scientific
     He said the surge inwhale kills, which have tripled since
the start of the decade to 1,043 in the past 12 months, is what
drove Ireland to try and forge a compromise.
     Environmental lobbying groups at the IWC meeting were
divided on the plan, with some saying it was the only realistic
way to bring Norway and Japan back under IWC control.
     They worry that a breakup of the IWC could lead to a revival
in uncontrolled hunting of whales, as a few species have begun
to recover their numbers after three decades of protection.
     Japan and Norway now hunt the relatively small minke, the
only plentiful balleen (toothless) species. The IWC estimates
there are around 760,000 minke whales worldwide.
     Other environmental groups say the plan marks a reversal for
the IWC, which voted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982
to study whale stocks and established a huge sanctuary in the
Antarctic, where most of the big whales live, in 1994.
     "The Irish proposal, while good-intentioned, legitimises
illegalwhaling by Japan and Norway and we should not be
rewarding those countries," said Patricia Forkan of the Humane
Society of the United States.