Subject: Seals:Clinton Letter to Congress on (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 12:10:40 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 97 00:51:00 GMT 
Subject: Clinton Letter to Congress on

Clinton Letter to Congress on Canadian Whaling

   WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released
today by the White House:
   On December 12, 1996, Secretary of Commerce Michael Kantor
certified under section 8 of the Fishermen's Protective Act of 1967, as
amended (the "Pelly Amendment") (22 U.S.C. 1978), that Canada has
conducted whaling activities that diminish the effectiveness of a
conservation program of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The certification was based on the issuance of whaling licenses by the
Government of Canada in 1996 and the subsequent killing of two bowhead
whales under those licenses.  This message constitutes my report to the
Congress pursuant to subsection (b) of the Pelly Amendment.
   In 1991, Canadian natives took a bowhead whale from the western
Arctic stock, under a Canadian permit.  In 1994, Canadian natives took
another bowhead whale from one of the eastern Arctic stocks, without a
   In 1996, under Canadian permits, one bowhead whale was taken in the
western Canadian Arctic on July 24 and one bowhead whale was taken in
the eastern Canadian Arctic on August 17. The whale in the eastern
Arctic was taken from a highly endangered stock.  The IWC has expressed
particular concern about whaling on this stock, which is not known to
be recovering.
   None of the Canadian whale hunts described above was authorized by
the IWC.  Canada withdrew from the IWC in 1982. In those instances
where Canada issued whaling licenses, it did so without consulting the
IWC.  In fact, Canada's 1996 actions were directly contrary to IWC
advice.  At the 1996 Annual Meeting, the IWC passed a resolution
encouraging Canada to refrain from issuing whaling licenses and to
rejoin the IWC. However, Canada has recently advised the United States
that it has no plans to rejoin the IWC and that it intends to continue
granting licenses for the taking of endangered bowhead whales.
   Canada's unilateral decision to authorize whaling outside of the
IWC is unacceptable.  Canada's conduct jeopardizes the international
effort that has allowed whale stocks to begin to recover from the
devastating effects of historic whaling.
   I understand the importance of maintaining traditional native
cultures, and I support aboriginal whaling that is managed through the
IWC.  The Canadian hunt, however, is problematic for two reasons.
   First, the whaling took place outside the IWC. International law,
as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea, obligates countries to work through the appropriate international
organization for the conservation and management of whales.  Second,
whaling in the eastern Canadian Arctic poses a particular conservation
risk, and the decision to take this risk should not have been made
   I believe that Canadian whaling on endangered whales warrants
action at this time.
   Accordingly, I have instructed the Department of State to oppose
Canadian efforts to address takings of marine mammals within the newly
formed Arctic Council.  I have further instructed the Department of
State to oppose Canadian efforts to address trade in marine mammal
products within the Arctic Council.  These actions grow from our
concern about Canada's efforts to move whaling issues to fora other
than the IWC and, more generally, about the taking of marine mammals in
ways that are inconsistent with sound conservation practices.
   Second, I have instructed the Department of Commerce, in
implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to withhold
consideration of any Canadian requests for waivers to the existing
moratorium on the importation of seals and/or seal products into the
United States.
   Finally, the United States will continue to urge Canada to
reconsider its unilateral decision to authorize whaling on endangered
stocks and to authorize whaling outside the IWC.
   I believe theforegoing measures are more appropriate in addressing
the problem of Canadian whaling than the imposition of import
prohibitions at this time.
   I have asked the Departments of Commerce and State to keep this
situation under close review.
   February 10, 1997.