Subject: IWC: Commerical Whaling Eyed by Gro (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 17 May 1998 14:12:37 -0400 (EDT)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 17 May 98 11:07:00 GMT 
Subject: Commerical Whaling Eyed by Gro

Commerical Whaling Eyed by Group

   MUSCAT, Oman (AP) -- The International Whaling Commission opened
its 50th annual meeting Saturday in Oman, hoping to solve an issue
that has deeply divided the organization -- whether to allow
commercial whaling.
   During his opening speech, IWC Chairman Michael Canny said the
organization was going through "a critical period" that required
its members to resolve their differences by keeping an open mind
and working toward compromise.
   "The thrust of the organization has changed over the years from
a time when most members were native whalers to a point where the
majority of the members are more concerned with the conservation of
whales," Canny said.
   During the five-day meeting, Ireland is expected to present a
proposal aimed at breaking the longstanding deadlock between
whaling and non-whaling nations over whale protection. Under the
plan, commercial whaling would be allowed in coastal waters but
banned elsewhere.
   In 1986,the commission banned commercial whaling worldwide, but
traditional hunters were allowed to continue killing whales for
   Pro-whaling nations, including Norway and Japan, have welcomed
the plan to allow commercial whaling. But anti-hunting members,
including the United States and Australia, are firmly against it.
   Ireland, which does not seek to hunt whales itself, fears the
conflict could cause the 39-nation organization to collapse.
   Pro-whaling nations complain that the IWC, set up in 1948 to
manage whale hunts, has become an organization devoted to
preventing the hunts. They argue that some types of whales are so
plentiful they can be hunted for profit.
   But organizations like the U.S.-based Humane Society
International disagree, saying a return to commercial whaling would
"devastate" the whale population.
   The society, which is attending the Oman conference, issued a
statement, saying the commission should encourage more countries to
set up whale sanctuaries as others have done, including the United
States, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
   Despite the commission's moratorium, whales are still being
hunted. The World Wildlife Fund said in a report issued last week
that more than 18,000 whales have been killed since the moratorium
on whaling took effect 12 years ago.
   Continued whaling, both legal and illegal, and an increase in
other threats continue to account for whale deaths despite the
moratorium, said the WWF report.
   Other threats include drowning in fishing nets, collision with
ships, noise pollution and harassment by tour boats, according to
the WWF.
   Six of the world's eleven species of great whale are classified
as endangered or vulnerable.