Subject: IWC meeting hears proposal for global whale sanctuary

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:35:20 -0400 (EDT)


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Date: Thu, 23 Oct 97 02:50:00 GMT 
Subject: IWC meeting hears proposal for

IWC meeting hears proposal for global whale sanctuary

  MONTE CARLO, Oct. 21 (Kyodo) -- The second day of the International
Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual meeting Tuesday heard an Irish
proposal for a global whale sanctuary, while Japan proposed switching
from an open balloting system to a secret one.
   The Irish proposal, which appears unlikely to gain sufficient support
for acceptance, would pave the way for limited commercial whaling for
the first time in 11 years by allowing Japan and Norway to harpoon
minke whales in their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones.
   But it would force whaling nations to accept a ban on commercial
whaling in the high seas and Japan would have to gradually halt a
program of hunting whales for so-called scientific purposes, which is
currently allowed under a legal loophole in the 1946 International
Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
   Backers of the proposal say the number of whales annually caught by
Japan and Norway would in effect decline if it were adopted and
   Japan, which argues that whale stocks have been replenished to a level
that justifies the lifting of a moratorium on commercial whaling agreed
on in 1982, has vowed to block the proposal on grounds it is
"unacceptable from a viewpoint of effective utilization of marine
   The Irish proposal has also been received coolly by some antiwhaling
nations and environmental groups. The United States, for example, last
week restated its firm opposition to commercial whaling, while
environmental groups have noted that the vast majority of whales spend
some time in coastal waters.
   Japan has called for secret balloting to enable small and developing
nations to cast their votes free of pressure from environmental groups
and from major antiwhaling nations like the United States.
   The proposal stems from the increased support Japan got for a
resumption of commercial whaling on a limited basis when a secret
balloting system was used at the June meeting in Zimbabwe of parties to
the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.
   The IWC was originally set up in the late 1940s to provide for the
proper conservation of whale stocks and make possible the orderly
development of the whaling industry. But Japan and Norway complain that
it has turned out to be a body devoted to preventing whale hunts rather
than managing them under its initial aim.
   An overwhelming majority of the IWC's members now oppose commercial
whaling and want to make permanent the moratorium agreed in 1982, which
became effective in 1986.