Subject: IWC meeting - final press release (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Tue, 2 Jun 1998 11:58:56 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 08:42:23 -0700
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: IWC meeting - final press release (fwd)

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International Whaling Commission
The Red House, 135 Station Road, Histon,  Cambridge, UK CB4 4NP
Tel: +44 (0)1223 233971   :    Fax: +44 (0)1223 232876=20

FINAL PRESS RELEASE             20 May 1998

1998 Annual Meeting
Muscat, Oman

The 50th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC)
was held from 16-20 May 1998 in Muscat, Oman.   The proceedings were
conducted by the Chairman, Mr. Michael Canny (Ireland) and the
Vice-Chairman, Mr Bo Fernholm (Sweden).

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.=20

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.=20

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.=20

Revised Management Scheme
Although the Commission has accepted and endorsed the Revised
Management Procedure (RMP) 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 a Resolution that confirmed how
anthropogenic removals (e.g. incidental catches, catches under
scientific permit, aboriginal subsistence whaling) other than
commercial catches should be taken into account when setting catch
limits under the RMP.=20

Last year, Ireland introduced a proposal for discussion intended to
lead to a break in the deadlock between the governments opposed to a
resumption of commercial whaling and those in favour.  Its elements
include: completion and adoption of the Revised Management Scheme;=20
designation of a global sanctuary for whales; permission for closely
regulated and monitored coastal whaling within 200 mile zones by
communities with a long tradition for such activity; prohibition of
international trade in whale products; and the cessation of scientific
research catches.  Reaching consensus on such a package of measures is
proving extremely difficult, but many Commissioners expressed their
interest on continuing discussions and the Commission agreed to keep
this Item on its Agenda.

Catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling
Last year, the Commission agreed to the following catch limits for
several stocks subject to aboriginal subsistence whaling.  No changes
to these have been made this year.

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.=20

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

The Scientific Committee continued  to make progress towards
developing new management regimes for aboriginal subsistence whaling;
this work has been given high priority by the Commission.

Noting that Canada had issued licenses for aboriginal subsistence
whaling on two stocks of bowhead whales for which the Scientific
Committee has expressed concern, the Commission adopted a Resolution
inviting Canada to rejoin the Commission and not to issue further

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 developed terms of reference for a specialist Workshop
on Whale Killing Methods to be held in 1999.

Southern Ocean Sanctuary
The Commission adopted a Resolution that provided advice to its
Scientific Committee on the objectives of the Southern Ocean
Sanctuary.  These particularly relate to monitoring depleted
populations and undertaking research on the effects of environmental
change.  The Scientific Committee is developing a major co-operative
research programme with Southern Ocean GLOBEC and CCAMLR in the
Southern Ocean Sanctuary for the years 2000 and 2001.

Environmental research
The Commission has strengthened its commitment to research on
environmental changes and the effects on cetaceans.  In particular it
reiterated its support for two major collaborative research
initiatives made by its Scientific Committee with respect to (1)
chemical pollutants and (2) baleen whale habitat and prey studies in
co-operation with CCAMLR and Southern Ocean GLOBEC.  This commitment
is shown by a proposal to establish a major research fund for
environmental research to be considered next year.

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 adopted a Resolution concerning directed
takes of white whales and encouraged a precautionary approach to

Co-operation with other organisations
The Commission noted the importance of co-operation with other
organisations, particularly in the context of scientific research.=20
Further research co-operation with a number of organisations
(including The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the
Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS); International Convention on
Endangered Species (ICES); Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources (CCAMLR); and Southern Ocean GLOBEC (SO-GLOBEC)) has been
strengthened this year.  In addition, the Commission adopted
resolutions relevant to co-operation with the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
(CITES) and, with respect to health issues and consumption of certain
cetacean products, with the World Health Organisation.

Establishment of a new scientific journal
The Commission approved the establishment of a major new scientific
journal on cetacean research and management, which will commence at
the beginning of 1999.  This will maintain and improve the high
quality of scientific publications published by the IWC.

Date and place of the next Annual Meeting
The next Annual Meeting will be held in Grenada in May 1999.

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