Irish Proposal Sputters

A special IWC intersessional meeting on the "Irish Proposal" held in Antigua and Barbuda in February sputtered to an end without any major forward motion. Japan and Norway were unwilling to accept the key provisions of the proposed compromise. Japan is not about to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean sanctuary, nor give up control of its "scientific" whaling. Nor is it willing to give up any future possibilities for international trade. Norway, in a similar position, is unwilling to give up international trade, nor let the IWC set quotas for their commercial whaling. Several non-whaling nations were also not prepared to accept a return to commercial whaling.

Norwegian Commissioner Kare Bryn stated that "there has been no coming together on common ground" and "no hope whatsoever for a compromise."

Thirteen NGO groups attending the meetings issued a statement criticizing the concept of allowing any resumption of coastal whaling, stating: "Whales are highly migratory and do not belong to any one country, so the only authority recognized as competent to regulate whaling is the IWC. Whales caught in the coastal waters of one country spend the majority of their lives in the waters of other countries and on the high seas."

Further, the groups decried the failure of Japan and Norway to abide by existing IWC rules.

"Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993. Japan conducts scientific whaling (described by the Economist magazine as "an excuse as thin as the sashimi a researched whale becomes" and sells the meat from all whales caught on the commercial market."

At this year's 50th Annual meeting of the IWC, ECO calls on member nations to honor and enforce the cessation of commercial whaling that has been on the books for ten years, but has never been truly carried out.

International Marine Mammal Project
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