IWC IFAW statement
Mon, 23 May 1994 09:33:45

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Subject: IWC IFAW statement
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Subj:	IFAW's opening statement at IWC
Date:         Sun, 22 May 1994 13:27:35 BST
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         Michael Halford <>
Subject:      IFAW's opening statement at IWC
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
***Please forward to all on MARMAM ASAP**** Thanks
 International Whaling Commission, Mexico, May 1994 IWC/46/OS IFAW
 Opening statement by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
 IFAW is unequivocally opposed to any and all commercial whaling,
 whether or not under the auspices, or with the blessing, of the
 IWC, including whaling under special scientific permits which is
 generally commercial whaling thinly disguised.  Our main reasons
 for this policy are that:
 (1) the methods used in commercial - including 'scientific' -
 whaling, are irretrievably cruel;
 (2) commercial exploitation of these animals - which are all, in
 international law, "highly migratory (marine) species" and
 therefore under global rather than unilateral national authority,
 regardless of where in the ocean they happen to be - has never
 been, and still cannot be, effectively controlled; and
 (3) there is no way other than an enforced long-term ban on all
 commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean that the recovery of
 devastated whale populations that feed in that remote special
 region of the - mainly - high seas can be assured.
 The worldwide, indefinite pause in commercial whaling decided by
 the IWC in 1982 was limited in its effectiveness.  While that
 decision should not be modified, additional measures are urgently
 needed if commercial whaling is not to slip completely out of
 control.  The continuation of the moratorium itself is
 increasingly precarious.  One reason for this is the 'vote
 consolidation operation' by Japan to over-turn or modify it by
 recruiting new countries to IWC membership, and by exerting
 overwhelming economic and diplomatic pressure on some existing
 Members to alter their voting patterns there.  Another is the
 fact that the financing system of the IWC is so inequitable that
 poorer Members, who can see little concrete gain in the near
 future from the conservation of whales and the restoration of
 stocks, are withdrawing, one by one.
 A third reason is that some governments, which supported the
 moratorium originally, seem to be concluding - IFAW believes
 quite erroneously - that the original, precautionary purpose of
 the 1982 decision had largely been achieved once a better,
 supposedly more 'scientific', method of calculating catch limits
 had been devised.
 Perhaps more importantly, the 1982 decision has not been as
 effective as was originally hoped because the 'pause' it mandated
 has never been complete, and is even less so now than it was when
 it first came legally coming into effect.  Commercial whaling is
 increasing yearly, under objections to IWC decisions (one form of
 outlaw whaling) and in the thinly-veiled guise of taking
 scientific 'samples'.  And the threat of resumption of outlaw
 'pirate' whaling, by vessels flying flags of non- member
 countries, has again become very real.
 Evidently, commercial - including scientific and outlaw - whaling
 cannot be held in check simply by a group of non-whaling
 countries doggedly hold on to the moratorium through a blocking
 vote (sometimes referred to as the so-called 'just say no'
 strategy).  Progress can only be achieved now through pro-active
 One such measure is the widely supported move within and also
 outside the IWC to declare the entire Southern Ocean, including
 all Antarctic waters, as a long-term, circumpolar sanctuary for
 whales, especially for the migratory southern hemisphere baleen
 whales on their feeding grounds.  Other such measures are
 political and economic actions, within the IWC and outside it, to
 stop existing whaling operations under objections; to curb the
 resurgence of unregulated commercial whaling by non-members of
 the IWC; and greatly to reduce or preferably eliminate
 'scientific' whaling, especially that of an evidently commercial
 nature, whatever its declared purpose.
 IFAW believes that for the time-being achievement of the desired
 results protecting the remaining whales from further depletions
 and providing an opportunity for their recovery - demands the
 continued existence of the IWC and the strengthening of its
 resolve to bring order into the whaling issue.  The greatest
 threat to whales, here and now, is NOT the threat of future
 indeterminate environmental changes, serious as those might
 eventually turn out to be.  Nor even is it the hypothetical
 deleterious effects on whales of global or regional changes that
 are thought now to be in progress.  Further, the greatest
 immediate threat may not be of a casual modification of the
 1982 decision.  Although that COULD happen almost inadvertently
 through a freak vote involving a large number of abstentions or
 absences, the apparent faltering of Japan's 'vote consolidation
 operation' may be giving a breathing space.
    The immediate serious threat to whales is the growing disorder
    in the international regulatory system which is charged to manage
    the restoration of whale populations and to deliver them, intact
    and biologically productive, to the future.
 The existence of this threat is the basic reason for IFAW's
 support of moves by the governments of some non-whaling countries
 towards formal acceptance this year of the completed work of its
 Scientific Committee, carried through under the Commission's
 specific instructions, on a Revised Management Procedure (RMP).
 This could be done through an appropriate conditional Resolution.
 The conditions are, of course, all important.  Provided they are
 in place such a move should not be regarded, in itself, as a step
 towards the re-opening of commercial whaling or the
 legitimisation of present whaling by Norway and possibly soon
 other countries under objections or through other loopholes in
 the Convention.  Rather, we would interpret it as a step towards
 bringing the argument about whaling back fully into the IWC's
 orbit and thus strengthening the hands of the non-whaling Member
 Current whaling problems are rooted in well-known flaws in the
 1946 Convention, in the declining adherence by states to the
 Convention, and in weaknesses in some aspects of current law of
 the sea.  Disorder is nourished by the arrogant and reckless
 actions of a very few governments that in practice care more for
 national pride and immediate profits for a few of their nationals
 than for properly regulated sustainable resource use to which
 they supposedly committed themselves in Rio de Janeiro in June
 This issue is fundamentally an international one, and in existing
 customary law a global one.  Whales cannot be 'saved' either for
 the intangible benefit of future human generations, or for their
 own well-being, while disorder reigns and spreads in the oceans.
 There is no forum other than the IWC through which it can be
 resolved, despite the existence of an illegitimate crippled
 pretender to an alternative forum in the North Atlantic - NAMMCO
 - created by the two governments that are primarily responsible
 for the de-stabilisation of the IWC - those of Iceland and
 Norway.  The United Nations at present recognises the exclusive
 legal competence of the IWC to regulate whaling and to take
 conservation measures for whales.  If this forum fails to be
 effective then recourse will have to be made to a higher body
 such as the UN General Assembly, but that would take time, great
 effort and have uncertain outcome, for there the debate would be
 politicised even more than it already is in the IWC.  Those who
 care for whales, as well as for the people who wish to 'use' them
 - now or in the future, benignly or otherwise - have to make the
 IWC work.
 Therefore IFAW supports, as top priority, the creation of a
 circumpolar Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, with a northern
 boundary which is ecologically justified and which will ensure
 protection of the sei and fin whales as well as the blue, minke
 and humpback whales, and which is politically and legally viable
 and thus acceptable to as many nations as possible, so that its
 provisions will have the greatest chance of being universally and
 effectively honoured.
 IFAW also supports actions at this time by non-whaling
 governments to reinforce, directly and indirectly, but without
 compromise, the IWC.  This includes encouraging, by all possible
 peaceful means, the countries engaged in, or considering
 resuming, commercial - including 'scientific' - whaling, whether
 or not they are members of IWC, to abide both by the fact and the
 spirit of IWC decisions.
 It is clear that the question of the 'adoption' of the RMP for
 the calculation of any future catch limits is a critical and
 contentious one for the 1994 IWC meeting.  It is one on which
 some non-whaling governments, and also NGOs such as IFAW that
 oppose commercial whaling, may be divergent opinions.  IFAW has
 therefore given this especially careful consideration in the
 context of its basic policy expressed in the first part of this
 statement.  Negotiation of all the other essential elements of a
 Revised Management Scheme (RMS) is also high on the 1994 agenda,
 and the 'provisional adoption' or 'acceptance' or whatever other
 formula may be favoured, must be considered in that context.
 The Scientific Committee has said it has completed its work on
 the RMP.  In doing so has for the most part followed the specific
 instructions of the Commission, contained mainly in Resolutions
 (1991, 1992) originally put forward by groups of the non-whaling
 Member states.  Some possible technical weaknesses in the RMP
 have been pointed out by the ad hoc Review group of independent
 scientists established by the United States authorities, and also
 by some other scientists.  Thus another question has been raised:
 should the Committee be instructed to continue the development of
 work it has said it has completed?  Such 'further development'
 could, of course, in principle be continued for ever.  The real
 question is:  do the suggestions for further computer trials
 really justify the Commission in not formally recognising the
 Scientific Committee's work now.  Even the Review Group did not
 engage this question, which was strictly outside its remit,
 though it did suggest that any adoption and/or implementation
 should be for a limited period of twenty years.
 IFAW maintains that further delay in properly recognising the
 Scientific Committee's work, and closing it off, is not
 justified, and is likely to lead to further erosion of the
 Commission's authority.
 If any further trials revealed that some adjustments were
 necessary, then the Commission would remain free to order minor
 or drastic changes (or computer trials of those) before moving to
 incorporate it in the Schedule.  In the unlikely event that
 trials showed that the present proposed RMP should be abandoned,
 then obviously there could be no move to put it in the Schedule.
 While the Scientific Committee might be encouraged to conduct
 more trials, there is no clear need for that to be hurried.  The
 work of the Committee has been marred in recent years by
 pressures on it for undue speed.  If such trials are to be
 conducted they should be done carefully and exhaustively and
 should be limited to those arising from the technically valid
 points raised by the Review Group, as determined by the
 Scientific Committee.  There is no need for another special
 inter-sessional meeting of the Committee for this purpose.
 There are other, more specific, reasons for provisionally
 adopting the RMP, exactly as presented by the Scientific
 Committee.  It is a fact that the RMP, as 'tuned' in accordance
 with the Commission's 1992 resolution, is a much better, more
 conservative, procedure for calculating catch limits in
 accordance with the Commission's constitution and policy - if any
 such catch limits are ever to be calculated - than is the New
 Management Procedure (NMP) in the current Schedule, the
 implementation of which has been suspended while the 1982
 decision is in force.  While the NMP is in the Schedule, and the
 Commission has not expressed clearly, even through a resolution,
 an intention to replace that with something else, duly specified,
 it remains a default procedure.  In situations where the NMP is
 applicable it gives unsustainable catch limits under the guise of
 sustainability.  In the more common cases, where it is simply not
 applicable, it leaves wide open the possibility of the Commission
 eventually yielding to pressure to agree to arbitrary numbers,
 proposed by whaling countries to meet claimed special
 sociological needs.  When the Commission, as it must, considers
 such claims - even if only to reject them - such discussion
 should be around more rational and consistent ways of picking
 Nevertheless, IFAW considers that the illusion that the RMP
 provides an objective, 'scientific' method for calculating
 'scientifically based' numbers should be erased.  There is,
 admittedly, some scientific knowledge embedded in it - but very
 little, and most of that is a weakly documented specification of
 what is thought not be known.  Our contention that it is far
 better than the method now in the Schedule to the 1946 Convention
 is based on recognising the RMP as essentially an engineering
 solution to a practical problem (rather than a 'scientific' one)
 in which critical value judgements are made through its 'tuning',
 which has already been the subject of a policy decision by the
 Provisional adoption or acceptance of the RMP should be
 understood to include adoption of the guidelines for treatment
 and analysis of survey data provided in 1993 by the Scientific
 Committee, without any exceptions such as, for example, the
 Scientific Committee has unfortunately suggested with respect to
 the North Atlantic minke whales.
 In conclusion, IFAW encourages Commissioners from non-whaling
 countries to provisionally adopt, at the 1994 meeting, the RMP as
 now formulated, on the understanding that parallel actions
 concerning all other elements of a comprehensive Revised
 Management Scheme (RMS) as outlined below will be initiated and,
 further, that no consideration is given to any formal adoption of
 the RMP (by incorporating it in the Schedule) or its
 implementation at least until all those elements have been
 completed and generally agreed.
 In our view any acceptable management scheme must also include a
 system of regional sanctuaries, among them that in the Indian
 Ocean which protects some breeding grounds and migratory paths,
 the proposed sanctuary in the Southern Ocean, and possibly others
 to be identified.
 Most of the necessary elements of an effective Scheme were
 already identified in the Commission's resolutions of 1991 and
 1992.  They are recapitulated and annotated below, as conditions
 the fulfilment of which should, in IFAW's view, be an absolute
 prior requisite for further discussion of any eventual
 implementation of the RMP.  These elements/conditions could
 conveniently be specified in the resolution provisionally
 adopting the RMP.  Additional conditions have not yet been
 specified in Resolutions but have been discussed in a preliminary
 Explicit acceptance of, respect for, and intent fully to comply
 with all IWC rules and regulations, by all intending whaling
 countries, members of IWC, is a necessary condition for
 subsequent formal adoption of the RMP and for any implementation
 of it.  That implies NO objections can be allowed by ANY of those
 countries to ANY of the elements in an RMS 'package'.
 Existing provisions for national inspection must be fully
 honoured, and in such a way that ALL vessels and landing places
 would be continuously inspected throughout all whaling seasons.
 A credible international observer scheme must be negotiated
 providing that all accredited observers (of nationally and
 resident different from that of the flags and owners of the
 vessels), selected and employed by the IWC and responsible only
 to the IWC, are deployed on all catcher vessels, as well as at
 all landing places and on factory ships, at all times.  No
 exceptions should be made for claims that accommodation on the
 vessels is limited.  If and when, for whatever reason, the
 international observers are not on stations then any operations
 must be suspended.
 It would be proper for the whaling countries, who would directly
 profit from any re-opening of commercial whaling, to cover the
 costs through special subventions to the IWC.
 Additionally, external monitoring of the movements of all whaling
 vessels is necessary, by satellite or otherwise.  The IWC would
 need to keep an official registry of these vessels, and any
 unregistered vessel observed killing whales, or preparing or armed
 to do so, should be treated as 'illegitimate' and dealt with
 The present provisions for dealing with infractions - under which
 only the offending country brings forward evidence, and
 independent evidence is only admitted on the very rare occasions
 when another state can be persuaded to submit it - are cosmetic
 only and ineffective.  It may be necessary for the IWC itself to
 be empowered to bring forward evidence of infractions and even
 initiate legal action against offenders in appropriate courts or
 tribunals.  Properly documented independent evidence from legal
 persons other than the whaling governments should be admitted and
 such persons should be permitted to lodge formal complaints.
 The special arrangements for the peaceful settlement of disputes
 regarding the deep seabed, provided for in UNCLoS, might be a
 model for use with respect to the whales - another resource for
 which the entire community of nations has taken responsibility.
 The penalties for infractions should be at least commensurate in
 scale with the monetary values obtained by offenders and those
 who deal with them.
 Member countries of the IWC will evidently need to take vigorous
 steps, perhaps through higher authorities such as the United
 Nations, to ensure that non-members (whether or not they are
 members of the UN system) do not engage in or facilitate any
 commercial whaling, nor violate any other rules and regulations
 established by the IWC.
 It is through trade in commodities from whales, and in whaling
 material, that many past evasions of regulations have been
 effected.  Although it may not be reasonable to prohibit all such
 trade in principle, a strong case can be made for such a
 prohibition as an element in enforcement.  At the very least it
 is essential that intending whaling countries become parties to
 CITES and those that are already Parties remove all their
 existing reservations to relevant CITES listings.  As in 2 above,
 the ban on international trade must be made effective also for
 non-members of IWC.
 Firm and binding provision should be made to ensure that in
 future the taking of whales under scientific permits is no longer
 used as a means of exceeding any catch limits.  This can be
 achieved by appropriate provisions in a Resolution, later to be
 incorporated in the Schedule, that total catches may not exceed
 commercial catch limits over a short period of time.  Countries
 wishing to kill whales for scientific purposes could then do so
 by reducing any authorised commercial catches correspondingly,
 without formally foregoing their rights to issue permits.
 Additional stringent conditions would be necessary with respect
 to any taking of whales under special permits where catch limits
 remain zero, as they do by default in the RMP specification.
 Although the Scientific Committee has provided guidelines for the
 availability and analysis of survey data, it has made no clear
 distinction between surveys, such as those under the IDCR, in
 which the Scientific Committee itself (or its representatives)
 also participates in planning and conduct, and those as, for
 example, in the North Atlantic, which were planned and conducted
 by one or more countries having special interests in the
 resumption of whaling.  The only valid survey data for use in an
 implementation of the RMP should be those obtained under the
 former type of arrangement.  Through this means it could be
 ensured that surveys, like any other operations related to
 commercial whaling, would be subject to international inspection.
 At least three matters which call for an appropriate formulation
 of a precautionary approach in decisions about whether or not to
 implement the RMP have been covered by recent decisions or
 resolutions of the Commission.  They should now be formulated
 (a) Environmental threats
 These cannot, in our view, be dealt effectively within the RMP
 context.  The RMP - any Catch Limit Algorithm as presently
 conceived - can only respond to actual detrimental (or
 beneficial) changes in the environmental carrying capacity for
 whales, or in the actual current numbers of whales, after changes
 have occurred.  It is appropriate to simulate such changes and
 test the robustness of any algorithm accordingly.  The algorithm
 may or may not respond adequately, and if trials show that it
 will not do so then adjustments can be tried.  But it cannot
 respond to threats as such.  Thus the Commission needs also to
 develop guidelines - an additional algorithm as an element of the
 RMS - for reaching implementation decisions based on evaluations
 of the existence, probability and possible strength of identified
 threats.  Evidently such decisions cannot rest entirely on vague
 or poorly documented hypotheses.  But, equally, it is not
 acceptable to continue to assume that a perceived threat for
 which there is some objective, indicative evidence is not
 significant until it has been proved to be so.  An operationally
 valid formulation of a precautionary approach to this problem is
 urgently needed.
 (b) Depleted stocks
 The 1991 Resolution of the Commission set a condition that whale
 populations which are at present under the NMP because they had
 been determined to be depleted, must remain protected until there
 is positive evidence that they have recovered sufficiently to
 warrant 'de-protection', or that they had been wrongly classified
 in the first place.  This precautionary condition was only
 partially achieved by an adjustment made by the Scientific
 Committee to the internal protection level of the Catch Limit
 Algorithm, so a specific provision within the RMS is called for.
 (c) Comprehensive Assessment
 The provision in paragraph 10(e) of the Schedule, that no
 consideration should be given to modification of the 'moratorium'
 until there has been a comprehensive assessment of the effects of
 the 1982 decision, has not yet been met.  The Scientific
 Committee has been unable to fulfil this, primarily because
 survey methods are too imprecise to detect population changes
 over what are, for whales, short periods of time.  This is a
 specific provision in line with a precautionary approach which,
 in IFAW's view, must be honoured.
 (d) Historical catch data
 The RMP offers very strong incentives for whaling nations to
 conceal knowledge of under-reporting (and other forms of
 mis-reporting with respect to species killed, locations in which
 they were killed, etc.)  of historical catches, since the catch
 limits calculated increase steeply with increased
 under-reporting.  There have been sufficient revealed instances
 of serious under- reporting (e.g.  Soviet Antarctic pelagic
 catching in the 1960s, Norwegian minke catches in the 1980s) to
 warrant the development of rigorous criteria regarding the data
 to be used in the catch limit algorithm and in the multi-stock
 rules.  In principle all still-existing original sources of catch
 data need to be independently validated.  But precautionary rules
 must be developed to determine which catch data shall be used
 where original sources have disappeared or are incomplete.  In
 its deliberations so far the Scientific Committee has adopted
 the very opposite of a precautionary approach, but using only
 officially reported catches, ignoring information about
 under-reporting even when it is available.  This is clearly
 unacceptable.  Firm criteria should be established by which
 precautionary decisions will be made regarding the acceptability
 of historical data for use in any RMP implementation.  These
 should be enacted as a specific requirement within the RMS.
 The IWC has now recognised that these are within its mandate.  No
 commercial whaling should be permitted in situations where there
 is good reason to suppose that it will substantially derogate
 non-consumptive values obtained from the same population of
 whales, or in the same or over-lapping localities, including the
 less tangible values of non-lethal scientific research.  In all
 such cases a credible analysis, pursuant to IWC criteria to be
 developed and agreed, must precede consideration of the
 calculation of any non-zero catch limits.
 Last, but not - for IFAW - least, the matter of humane killing
 techniques has to be taken seriously, and dealt with in
 operational terms by the IWC, beyond endless loose discussions.
 The Commission clearly accepted its competence to enact binding
 regulations regarding humane killing when it outlawed the use of
 the cold harpoon.  It must continue to exercise that competence.
 IFAW recognises that what is humane or cruel is in part a
 subjective question and the answers may vary from one culture to
 another.  Even in a relatively homogenous region such as Western
 Europe what is now completely unacceptable to the citizens of one
 country is still tolerated in another.  Concern for the treatment
 of wild animals is evolving, and not only for those species that
 are big, rare, 'beautiful', or 'intelligent'.  Minimal absolute
 criteria have been developed and widely adopted for the slaughter
 of other animal species used as food for humans.  Whales cannot
 be an exception to this.
 In this context, it is reasonable to insist that, before
 consideration is given to any implementation of the RMP,
 countries intending to engage in commercial whaling must provide
 convincing evidence of their substantial efforts towards the
 invention of less cruel methods than at present, and thereafter
 provide continuing evidence of significant progress in this
 matter.  This should be explicit in the RMS, and related to a
 standard of acceptability to be formulated and agreed by the IWC
 on the basis of independent expert advice from the fields of the
 veterinary and behavioural sciences.
 A major impediment to progress in this matter is the degree to
 which whaling authorities keep secret much of the information,
 including film and video records, they have pertaining to it.
 This is alone sufficient to reinforce public and professional
 scepticism about claims being made from time to time that
 improvements are in hand.  In addition to the release of existing
 information it would eventually be essential to empower
 international observers of any authorised commercial whaling
 operations to collect relevant data and to report these to the
 Commission for appropriate action.
 It will probably be said that some of the conditions described
 here - especially those for control and enforcement - cannot be
 met, for technical, financial or legal reasons.  If that were so,
 there is only one possible response:  there should be no
 legalisation of resumed commercial whaling while such impediments