Subject: Soviets object to Sanctuary

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Mon, 18 Sep 1994 12:37:10

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Subject: Soviets object to Sanctuary
 
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Subj:	Russia Objects to SO Sanctuary
 
Date:         Tue, 13 Sep 1994 13:47:00 -0700
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From:         The Antarctica Project <antarctica@igc.apc.org>
Subject:      Russia Objects to SO Sanctuary
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THE ANTARCTICA PROJECT                        further information:
PRESS RELEASE                                 Charles Webb
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 1994          ph.: 202-544-0236
                                              fax: 202-544-8483
 
RUSSIA OBJECTS TO THE SOUTHERN OCEAN WHALE SANCTUARY
 
In a dramatic reversal of policy, the Russian Government has filed
an objection to the recently created Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary, an action which would allow its whalers to return to the
Antarctic.
 
The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary protects the primary feeding
grounds for over 90% of the world's great whales.  After years of
debate, the Sanctuary was formally adopted by a vote of 23-1 at the
May 1994 meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Russia voted for the Sanctuary at the meeting and earned the praise
of the environmental community by releasing information on the
falsification of data and the killing of thousands of endangered
whales in the Antarctic during the 1960 and 1970s by the whaling
fleets of the former Soviet Union.  Japan was the only nation to
vote against the Sanctuary, and filed a formal objection last
month.  Now it appears that the Russian Government is succumbing to
pressure both from Japan and its own Fisheries Ministry to reverse
its policy and leave the option open for a resumption of commercial
whaling.
 
Now that Russia holds objections both to the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary and the global moratorium on commercial whaling, it is
the only country in the world that could legally reopen the
Antarctic whaling industry.  Although Japan has objected to the
Sanctuary, it does not hold an objection to the moratorium, and
thus cannot legally resume commercial whaling while the moratorium
is still in place.  Evidence strongly suggests that a major factor
in Russia's decision was the prospect of supplying whale meat to
the lucrative Japanese market.
 
Beth Marks, Director of the U.S.-based Antarctica Project, stated
that environmentalists from around the world are calling on Russia
to continue its support for the Sanctuary.  "We urge the Government
of Russia to withdraw its objection, and continue its bold policy
of releasing information on the former Soviet Union's whaling
violations and supporting new initiatives for the conservation of
whales."
 
The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica was the center of the
commercial whaling industry for most of the 20th Century.  Over-
exploitation brought most Antarctic whale species to the brink of
extinction.  The former Soviet Union operated one of the world's
largest whaling fleets in the Antarctic after World War II.  The
industry was finally stopped in 1987 for "technical reasons."
END