Subject: IWC: Bickering risks more whale deaths

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 24 Oct 1997 14:14:18 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Thu, 23 Oct 97 02:49:00 GMT 
Subject: Bickering risks more whale dea

Bickering risks more whale deaths - Rainier

    By Christine Tierney
     MONACO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Prince Rainier of Monaco warned
the International Whaling Commission (IWC) on Monday that
fighting among member states could tear the organisation apart
and lead to increased slaughter of whales.
     "As it stands now, the tense conflict between the whaling
and anti-whaling coalitions -- each entrenched in their firm
resolve and convictions -- looks more and more like a no-win
situation for the whales," Rainier said in an opening address
to the IWC's 49th annual meeting.
     An overwhelming majority of the IWC's 41 members oppose
whaling and want to make permanent a moratorium voted in 1982.
Three years ago, they established a huge Antarctic sanctuary for
whales as a further protective measure.
     But whaling nations, notably Norway and Japan, accuse the
IWC of straying from its mandate to regulate sustainable
     They want the moratorium lifted for abundant species such asminke whales,
which number 700,000, according to IWC estimates.
     Those countries still hunt whales under loopholes and have
killed more than 1,000 in the past 12 months from around 350 a
year between 1987 and 1991.
     "As anti-whaling forces gain sufficient strength to impose
their views unilaterally, the temptation will grow larger for
whaling nations to defect from this Commission, in perfect
legality, and resume commercial whaling under their own rules,"
Rainier said.
     "What is the largest risk today for whale stocks? Reducing
the IWC to a small club of protectionist countries with limited
influence on the outside world? Or working out a novel solution
in which both sides could be better off?" he said.
     Rainier said he was not suggesting that governments shed
their convictions. He said the principality of Monaco, a tiny
sovereign state on the French Riviera, would always oppose
commercial whaling.
     He also criticised Japan's so-called "scientific whaling"
for research purposes. Japanese whalers killed more than 500
whales, many hunted down in the Antarctic sanctuary, as part of
a 16-year research programme permitted under IWC rules.
     Ireland, a member of the anti-whaling camp, was expected to
present a compromise plan in hopes of breaking the deadlock.
     Under this plan, whaling on the high seas would be banned
and only hunting in a few coastal areas for local consumption
would be permitted. "Scientific whaling" would be banned.
     Delegates said the proposal could freshen the discussion at
the IWC's five-day meeting, but most did not expect it to be
     "I don't think it will go through because other extremist
countries will oppose it," said a Japanese delegate.
     The U.S. delegation denied reports it might back such a
plan. "The United States is opposed to commercial whaling and
has been since the beginning of the IWC," U.S. delegation
spokesman Scott Smullen said.
     The Norwegians said they would look at the proposal, but
would oppose any ban in the trade of whale meat and products.
     "There's a difference of opinion on whether the IWC is at a
deadlock which threatens its existence and needs this
proposal," said Nina Young, a scientist at the Washington-based
Centre for Marine Conservation.
     The IWC will also hear requests for whale quotas from
several aboriginal groups which claim whale-hunting as part of
their heritage.