Subject: World Council of Whalers Press Release (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Mon, 9 Mar 1998 18:45:41 -0500 (EST)

                      J. Michael Williamson
Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
                   Associate Professor-Science
  Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
             voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
            fax:    617.734.8666, or 978.468.0073

          "Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard your call,
   Wanted to sail upon your waters, since I was three feet tall"
                        Jimmy Buffett

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 14:44:04 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: World Council of Whalers Press Release (fwd)

Forwarded message:
From: "j. Matt Stabler" <>
WCW Secretariat Director

March 6, 1998

For Immediate Release

World's Whaling Communities Unite to Assert Their Rights

The world's whalers have held their largest and most diverse gathering
ever to assert their right to use whale resources sustainably, and in
keeping with their traditions and cultures.

>From March 2-6 in Victoria, British Columbia, users of whales and other
cetaceans from eighteen countries convened for the first General
Assembly of the World Council of Whalers. They issued a challenge to the
international community to recognize the vital roles which whaling plays
in providing food security, nutrition and cultural identity, and the
right of whaling communities to trade in whale products and thereby
participate in the global cash-based economy.

Specifically, they pledged support for the aspirations of the
Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations of British Columbia, Iceland, and four
coastal whaling communities in Japan to exercise their right to
sustainably use whales.

The meeting was attended by more than 100 people. Joining the whalers
were sympathetic observers from non-whaling countries committed to
community-based management as a conservation and development tool, and
to preserving the world's rich variety of cultures and  traditions.

"A battle has been raging to decide who will manage the world's
renewable natural resources, and the people who live with those
resources whose very survival depends on managing them wisely are
losing," said Tom Mexsis Happynook, Chairman of the Council and Head
Whaling Chief of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation in British Columbia.

"Since time immemorial, each of our communities has been honoured and
duty-bound to serve as the custodians of nature," said Chief Mexsis.
"Indeed, it is this responsibility which has shaped our cultures and
traditions and defined us as people. Yet there are powerful forces who
would take this responsibility from us, and dictate how we should lead
our lives. The time has come to make a stand, and assert the right of
all communities to manage their resources in accordance with proven and
traditional practices."

Over the course of the meeting, deliberations focused on protectionist
campaigns and government policies that have threatened indigenous
cultures from New Zealand to the Arctic. Particular attention was paid
to decisions of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and how
these are manipulated by organisations opposed in principle to whaling,
regardless of how it is managed or of the consequences for whaling

The IWC banned commercial whaling in the late 1980's, and currently
allows only "aboriginal subsistence" whaling under a strict regime which
requires that all products be consumed locally and there is no trading
of products for cash. No longer in control of their own resources,
whaling communities have found it ever harder to satisfy their cultural,
religious and dietary needs, and in many cases have experienced severe
socio-economic distress.

The Assembly believed that this suffering was not only unjustifiable in
conservation terms, but also resulted from decisions that breached
several legally binding international conventions. Among these was the
IWC's own convention, the International Convention for the Regulation of
Whaling, which requires it to base its decisions on science, and to
"take account of the interests of the consumers of whale products and
the whaling industry".

To address such concerns the World Council of Whalers was established in
February 1997, opening a Secretariat on the land of the traditional
whaling peoples of the Nuu Chah Nulth Nations in Port Alberni, British

"Whalers need a global organization in order to feel the strength and
encouragement that comes from unity," said Chief Mexsis. This
organization should strive to counter "the oppressive misinformation"
campaigns waged by Western protectionists to ban consumption of even the
most abundant whale stocks.

"We must remember, however, that the majority of people are not fools,"
he continued, "nor are they full of ill-will toward other people they do
not even know. They just need to be better informed about our
circumstances, about our responsible attitudes toward nature and natural
resources, and our willingness to work with them to exercise appropriate
stewardship over those resources."

The first General Assembly was attended by participants from the
following countries in which cetaceans are currently being utilised or
where there is strong interest in resuming traditional uses: Antigua &
Barbuda, Canada, Dominica, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Grenada,
Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Russia,
St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Tonga, and
the United States.

For further information contact: The World Council of Whalers
Secretariat, PO Box 1383, Port Alberni, BC, Canada V9Y 7M2. Tel.:
+1-250-724 2525; Fax: +1-250-723 0463; e-mail:

The World Council of Whalers - First General Assembly - March 2-6, 1998


WHEREAS, whaling and the sustainable use of whales by peoples around the
world contribute significantly to community identity and integrity by
satisfying socio-economic, cultural, religious and dietary needs;

WHEREAS, high seas whale resources are important natural resources for
the benefit of all mankind;

WHEREAS, the current majority of members of the International Whaling
Commission have failed to meet their legal obligations under the 1946
International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling by:
       a) maintaining the moratorium on commercial whaling and adopting
a sanctuary in the Antarctic Ocean without regard to "scientific
findings" as required by the Convention and by

      b) ignoring the requirement that regulations on whaling "take
account of the interests of the consumers of whale products and the
whaling industry"; and

that these actions have, caused severe socio-economic and cultural
distress to whaling communities.

The World Council of Whalers:

1. Affirms its conviction that the sustainable use of whales is
essential for the food security, culture  and health of peoples, and
that commercial activities related to the sustainable use of whales are
appropriate and as such, is  acknowledged by the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (Article 25) and the International Covenant of Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11); and recognized by the Kyoto
Declaration of 1995 regarding food security;

2. Emphasizes that, in accordance with Article 1 of the International
Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and Article 1 of the
International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, no
people may be deprived of its own means of subsistence;

3. Underscores the consensus of the international community, as
reflected in Agenda 21 and the Convention on Biological Diversity, that
indigenous peoples and local communities should continue to be
sustainable users and stewards of the living resources upon which they
have traditionally depended for their livelihood;

4. Concludes that Regional organizations involving resource users are
the most appropriate bodies to responsibly manage renewable marine
resources and that the use of international institutions or the use or
threat of unilateral trade measures to prevent resource users from
harvesting whales in a sustainable manner is a violation of universally
recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a violation
of the legal obligations of states under the above noted instruments.


1. That the World Council of Whalers is united in the cause of
sustainable use and human rights to natural resource use and committed
to continue their cooperation in furthering the objectives of the

2. That the World Council of Whalers supports the aspirations of those,
particularly, the Nuu- Chah-Nulth First Nations, Iceland and the
small-type whaling communities in Japan, wishing to exercise their right
to sustainably use whales;

3. That the World Council of Whalers recognizes the sovereign
prerogatives of nations to utilize resources on a sustainable basis; and

4. That the World Council of Whalers encourages its members to ensure
that national representation to appropriate international fora includes
members of their communities involved in the sustainable use of whales.


1. That the World Council of Whalers submit a copy of this Resolution to
their respective legislative assembly and appropriate administrator of
their government;

2. That the World Council of Whalers transmit a copy of this Resolution
to each Commissioner of the International Whaling Commission, to the
secretariats of the International Whaling Commission, the North Atlantic
Marine Mammal Commission, the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on Biological
Diversity, the United Nations International Year of the Ocean, the
United Nations Decade of Indigenous Peoples of the World, the United
Nations Decade of Education in Human Rights and, other appropriate
international organizations;

3. That the International Whaling Commission recognize and accept its
legal obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation
of Whaling;

4. That the Parties to CITES acknowledge their legal obligations under
that Convention; and

5. That National Governments be responsive to the petitions from and
rights of aboriginal and coastal peoples related to the sustainable use
of renewable marine resources.

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