Subject: IWC AGM 1997 - Final Press release (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 9 Nov 1997 20:48:57 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 22:18:35 +1100
From: Graham Clarke <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: IWC AGM 1997 - Final Press release

International Whaling Commission

The Red House, 135 Station Road, Histon,  Cambridge, UK CB4 4NP
Tel: +44 (0)1223 233971   :    Fax: +44 (0)1223 232876

1997 Annual Meeting, Monte Carlo,  Monaco

The 49th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was
held from 20-24 October 1997 in Monaco. The proceedings were conducted by
the Chairman, Dr. Peter Bridgewater (Australia) and the Vice-Chairman, Mr
Michael Canny (Ireland).

Catch limits for commercial whaling
In 1982 the Commission took a decision, which came into force from the 1986
and 1985/86 seasons, that catch limits for all commercial whaling would be
set to zero.

As in previous years, the Commission did not adopt a proposal by Japan for
an interim relief allocation of 50 minke whales to be taken by coastal
community-based whaling.

Norway has lodged objections to the ban and has exercised its right to set
national catch limits for its coastal whaling operations for minke whales.
The Commission passed a Resolution calling on Norway to halt all whaling
activities under its jurisdiction.

Revised Management Scheme
Although the Commission has accepted and endorsed the Revised Management
Procedure for commercial whaling, it has noted that work on a number of
issues, including specification of an inspection and observer system must
be completed before the Commission will consider establishing catch limits
other than zero. This work is ongoing.  The Commission adopted Resolutions
encouraging improved monitoring of whale product stockpiles, and the
reporting and reduction of cetacean bycatches.

The Irish Commissioner introduced a proposal intended to break the deadlock
between the governments opposed to a resumption of commercial whaling and
those in favour.  It would complete and adopt the Revised Management
Scheme;  designate a global sanctuary for whales; allow closely regulated
and monitored coastal whaling within 200 mile zones by communities with a
long tradition for such activity; but allow no international trade in whale
products; and end scientific research catches.  Reaching consensus on such
a package of measures will not be easy, but Commissioners expressed their
interest on continuing discussions, including bi-lateral contacts, and Mr.
Canny will prepare a paper for discussion at the next Annual Meeting.

Catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling
This year the Commission agreed to catch limits for several stocks subject
to aboriginal subsistence whaling:

Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock of bowhead whales (taken by Alaskan
Eskimos and native peoples of Chukotka)  - The total number of landed
whales for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 shall not exceed 280
whales, with no more than 67 whales struck in any year (up to 15 unused
strikes may be carried over each year).
Eastern North Pacific gray whales (taken by those whose "traditional,
aboriginal and subsistence needs have been recognised")  - A total catch of
620 whales is allowed for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 with a
maximum of 140 in any one year.
West Greenland fin whales (taken by Greenlanders)  -  An annual catch of 19
whales is allowed for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
West Greenland minke whales (taken by Greenlanders)  - The annual number of
whales struck for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, shall not
exceed 175 (up to 15 unused strikes may be carried over each year).
East Greenland minke whales (taken by Greenlanders)  - An annual catch of
12 whales is allowed for the years 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 (up to 3
unused strikes may be carried over each year).
Humpback whales (taken by St Vincent and The Grenadines)  -  for the
seasons 1996/97 to 1998/99, the annual catch shall not exceed two whales.

The Scientific Committee continued its investigation of potential new
management regimes for aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Scientific permit catches
Two proposed permits by Japan were considered. One is an extension of its
continuing programme in the Southern Hemisphere (now 400=B110% minke whales
from the Antarctic). The second is for the continuing programme to take 100
minke whales in the western North Pacific. The issuance of such permits is
a sovereign right under the Convention. The Commission adopted a Resolution
calling on the Government of Japan to refrain from issuing these permits.

Humane killing of whales
The Commission this year considered information on the use of the electric
lance as a secondary killing method, and killing methods used in aboriginal
subsistence hunts.  Japan announced that while it maintains the view that
the electric lance is still an effective secondary killing method, it
intends to use rifles as the principal secondary killing method from the
next season.

The Commission adopted a Resolution on improving the humaness of aboriginal
subsistence whaling, and agreed to hold a Workshop of Whale Killing Methods
in 1999.

Small cetaceans
Notwithstanding the different views of member countries over the legal
competence of the IWC to manage small cetaceans, the Contracting
Governments continue to co-operate in consideration of small cetaceans,
particularly with respect to the work of the Scientific Committee.  The
Commission passed a Resolution encouraging all members to undertake
relevant research and continue to provide information to the Scientific
 The environment and whale stocks
The Scientific Committee has examined this issue in the context of the
Revised Management Procedure and agreed the RMP adequately addressed such
concerns. However, it has noted that the most vulnerable species to such
threats might well be those reduced to levels at which the RMP, even if
applied, would result in zero catches. The Committee has held Workshops on
the effects of chemical pollutants on cetaceans and on the effects of
climate change and cetaceans. The Commission has endorsed the Committee's
work on these issues and agreed to fund work to be carried out by the
Scientific Committee in the coming year to take forward the recommendations
of these Workshops and specifically to design multi-disciplinary and
multinational research programmes in co-operation with other relevant

The Commission continues to address this issue. Last year it adopted
general principles for the management of whalewatching and drew these to
the attention of coastal states, and this year it took note of the
educational value of whalewatching.

Southern Ocean
The Commission is providing financial support for two cruises in the
Southern Hemisphere as part of the newly designated IWC-SOWER programme
(Southern Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research). One is aimed at providing
information on blue whales and the other at providing information on minke,
blue and other whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Japan is generously
providing the vessels for these cruises. The Scientific Committee will
continue to address matters relating to research in the Sanctuary.

Date and place of next meeting : The Commission has been invited to hold
its 50th Annual Meeting in  Muscat, Oman in May 1998.

Graham_J._Clarke - "WHALES IN DANGER"
WWW Home Page -
Sydney - AUSTRALIA - email: