Subject: IWC: Whaling Panel Split on Some Hu (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 30 Oct 1997 09:13:28 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 97 13:01:00 GMT 
Subject: Whaling Panel Split on Some Hu

Whaling Panel Split on Some Hunting

 Associated Press Writer
   MONACO (AP) -- For the first time in a decade, the International
Whaling Commission faces serious debate over its ban of commercial
whale hunting. Failure to modify the ban could force the body to
disband -- and leave whales open to unlimited hunting, the group's
leader warned Friday.
   "The largest threat to the whales .... is the breakup of the
IWC," chairman Michael Canny of Ireland told delegates at the
close of their annual meeting.
   The 39-nation commission has banned commercial hunting of the
giant mammals for 11 years out of concern for their dwindling
numbers. But as the populations have grown, so has pressure for
resumption of whale hunting.
   Norway and Japan argue the minke whales they hunt are not
endangered, with roughly a million of them worldwide.
   Arguments against hunts range from uncertainty about population
estimates to claims that whales suffer prolonged agony when
harpooned. Others say whales are special, intelligent creatures
that should never be hunted.
   Pro-whaling nations claim the commission, founded in 1948 to
manage commercial whale hunts, has become an organization devoted
to preventing the hunts that for some communities are a coastal
tradition and source of income.
   "What is the point of a management organization that doesn't
manage?" asked Kaare Bryn, head of the Norwegian delegation.
   Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 under a loophole in
the ban and since has faced fierce protests.
   Japan also hunts whales, under a scientific program that allows
hunting for research purposes, and the commission regularly grants
quotas of whales to such indigenous groups as the Inuits of Alaska
who need them for food and as part of their culture.
   On Thursday, the commission granted a joint quota for U.S. and
Russian aboriginal tribes which the United States says will allow
the Makah Indians of Washington state to resume its traditional
hunts after a break of 70 years.
   "Why them and not us?" asked Norwegian whaler Jan Odin
Olavsen, who fishes most of the year and hunts whales in the
summer. "Whales are part of the ecosystem and should be harvested
in a sustainable way."
   But Olavsen knows the strength of opposition to whaling. In
1992, activists tried to sink his whaling boat.
   Canny worries a continued ban will drive whaling nations out of
the commission. Iceland quit the group in 1993, and plans to
eventually hunt whales on its own.
   A compromise he hopes to present next year would allow limited
commercial whaling in some coastal areas, while declaring the open
ocean a sanctuary for whales and forbidding the export of whale
   Canny hopes his proposal will cut the number of whales killed.
More than 1,000 minke whales will probably die in commercial hunts
this year, almost triple the number killed in 1993. Hundreds more
whales of various species will be killed in tribal hunts.
   The United States and delegates from many other nations,
however, oppose any reinstatement of commercial whaling.
   Norway and Japan were pleased the commission was at least
willing to talk.
   "It's probably the most important thing that happened in the
IWC for 15 to 20 years. No one has even been willing to talk about
a compromise on commercial whaling," Bryn said.
   Even though the World Wildlife Fund conservation group urged
Norway and Japan to stop their hunts, it also recognized the need
for compromise.
   The commission "must take active steps to regain control of the
whalers," said Cassandra Phillips of the conservation group. "The
only casualty of the stalemate are the whales."