Subject: IWC: Ireland proposes some limited coastal whaling

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:30:02 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Thu, 23 Oct 97 02:51:00 GMT 
Subject: Ireland proposes some limited

Ireland proposes some limited coastal whaling

     By Christine Tierney
     MONACO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Ireland proposed on Tuesday to
lift a moratorium on commercial whaling and allow some coastal
hunting to break a deadlock that threatens to tear apart the
International Whaling Commission (IWC).
     "If the Commission doesn't take some action, we'll see it
falling over in a few years," Irish Whaling Commissioner
Michael Canny said.
     But most member governments of the IWC, holding its annual
meeting in Monaco this week, responded coolly to the Irish plan,
which had been revealed ahead of the meeting.
     Whaling would be banned on the high seas under the plan but
permitted in a few coastal areas for local consumption and under
strict controls. "Scientific whaling" -- killing whales for
research as the Japanese do -- would be phased out.
     "Each government finds something in the package difficult
and/or unacceptable," said Australian delegate David Kay.
     "Australian government policy is for a permanent ban on
global commercial whaling. As it stands now, the plan's not
acceptable to us," he said.
     The delegates from Britain and the United States said their
governments opposed all commercial whaling.
     "It's totally unacceptable," Japanese delegate Kazuo Shima
said. He said the ban on high seas whaling contravened the IWC's
convention. "The purpose of the convention is the conservation
and rational use of whale stocks," he said.
     The gulf between the whaling and anti-whaling camps in the
IWC reflects a shift in the societies of many IWC countries,
some of whom were formerly whale-hunting nations but now view
the hunt as cruel and unnecessary.
     The whaling nations, notably Japan and Norway, say such
sentiments have led the IWC far from its mandate to regulate
hunting as long as stocks are not threatened.
     Both countries have registered objections to IWC resolutions
and continue to hunt minke whales, a plentiful species estimated
to number about 760,000 by the IWC.
     The rise in whale kills, which have tripled since the start
of the decade to 1,043 in the past 12 months, is what drove
Ireland to try to forge a compromise, Canny said.
     "It's not an easy thing for Ireland to put forward a
proposal that allows commercial whaling, even in limited coastal
areas," he said.
     "The countries in this commission are so far apart that the
middle is painful for everybody," he said.
     Canny said he would talk to other delegates to gauge by the
close of the meeting on Friday whether there was potential for
an accord. If there was hope, he said Ireland would draft a plan
and present it to the IWC meeting next year in Oman.
     "I welcomed the Irish proposal because I think something
has to be done, but not for the reasons the Irish give," said
marine biologist Sidney Holt, a long-time adviser to the IWC's
scientific committee.
     "I don't think the Japanese or Norwegians will leave the
IWC. They're very comfortable. They're whaling under legal
objections, and they get away with it year after year," he told
     "The IWC needs to re-establish control. We face an
escalation of unregulated whaling. The Japanese are doing
surveys in the open ocean on Bryde's whales," he said.
     Bryde's whales are sub-tropical whales weighing roughly
20-25 tonnes, three times more than the relatively small minke.
     The Norwegians are gearing up for an annual harvest of 2,000
minke a year in the North Atlantic -- four times their current
catch, he said.
     "The whalers don't like the Irish plan and that's why I'm
happy about it," he said.