Whaling quotas renewed


Summary

The unanimous decision was made at the second day of annual talks in Alaska of the 75-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC), which manages whaling and the conservation of the large creatures.

VIDEO: Indigenous whaling approved

Even though the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, it has a policy of allowing so called subsistence hunts for natives in the United States, Russia, Greenland and St Vincent and the Grenadines to satisfy longstanding cultural and subsistence needs.

The meeting has yet to decide on the quotas for the other two countries.

Greenland's bid could come under scrutiny as the Danish territory wants to add a new species, humpback whales, to its quota and also expand the number of bowheads for its aboriginal hunters, officials said.

The US had been pushing very hard for the renewal of the bowhead whale hunting quotas for the Inupia and Yup'ik peoples of Alaska in the polarised IWC, where pro and anti-commercial whaling groups have nearly equal clout.

William Hogarth, IWC chairman and also the US chief representative at the commission, thanked IWC members states for the unanimous decision and called on them to maintain the spirit of consensus.

The scientific basis for the US proposal is good and "it is sustainable hunt and we support sustainable whaling," Japanese alternative commissioner to the IWC, Joji Morishita, said.

The US quota has been used in the past as a bargaining tool by Japan to try to gain approval for its own commercial quotas.

A large number of pro-whaling countries vote with Japan at the IWC and there had been intense speculations that Tokyo this year was trying to win US support for its plan for Japanese traditional coastal communities to catch whales under the same rules allowing aboriginal peoples to hunt whales.

Green groups had warned the United States not to cave in to any pressure.

The decision to renew the particularly US quota by consensus instead of through divisive voting was significant, experts said.

Pro-whaling countries Japan, Norway and Iceland all spoke in favour of the US quota renewal but stressed the need for what they termed consistency, implying that Japan's traditional coastal communities should also be allowed to hunt under the same rules.

Environmental groups deem it as a form of commercial whaling but Tokyo says it is based on the "subsistence whaling" undertaken by indigenous peoples.

It also has enforcement and monitoring measures with a plan to have an oversight committee comprising IWC members to observe the coastal whaling activities with "100 percent transparency," Mr Morishita said.

Japan is already under fire for allegedly using research as a thinly disguised and subsidized exercise in commercial whaling.

Tokyo has devised its plan almost identical to the US request and has been lobbying hard in the IWC, where it has wide influence.


The unanimous decision was made at the second day of annual talks in Alaska of the 75-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC), which manages whaling and the conservation of the large creatures.

VIDEO: Indigenous whaling approved

Even though the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, it has a policy of allowing so called subsistence hunts for natives in the United States, Russia, Greenland and St Vincent and the Grenadines to satisfy longstanding cultural and subsistence needs.

The meeting has yet to decide on the quotas for the other two countries.

Greenland's bid could come under scrutiny as the Danish territory wants to add a new species, humpback whales, to its quota and also expand the number of bowheads for its aboriginal hunters, officials said.

The US had been pushing very hard for the renewal of the bowhead whale hunting quotas for the Inupia and Yup'ik peoples of Alaska in the polarised IWC, where pro and anti-commercial whaling groups have nearly equal clout.

William Hogarth, IWC chairman and also the US chief representative at the commission, thanked IWC members states for the unanimous decision and called on them to maintain the spirit of consensus.

The scientific basis for the US proposal is good and "it is sustainable hunt and we support sustainable whaling," Japanese alternative commissioner to the IWC, Joji Morishita, said.

The US quota has been used in the past as a bargaining tool by Japan to try to gain approval for its own commercial quotas.

A large number of pro-whaling countries vote with Japan at the IWC and there had been intense speculations that Tokyo this year was trying to win US support for its plan for Japanese traditional coastal communities to catch whales under the same rules allowing aboriginal peoples to hunt whales.

Green groups had warned the United States not to cave in to any pressure.

The decision to renew the particularly US quota by consensus instead of through divisive voting was significant, experts said.

Pro-whaling countries Japan, Norway and Iceland all spoke in favour of the US quota renewal but stressed the need for what they termed consistency, implying that Japan's traditional coastal communities should also be allowed to hunt under the same rules.

Environmental groups deem it as a form of commercial whaling but Tokyo says it is based on the "subsistence whaling" undertaken by indigenous peoples.

It also has enforcement and monitoring measures with a plan to have an oversight committee comprising IWC members to observe the coastal whaling activities with "100 percent transparency," Mr Morishita said.

Japan is already under fire for allegedly using research as a thinly disguised and subsidized exercise in commercial whaling.

Tokyo has devised its plan almost identical to the US request and has been lobbying hard in the IWC, where it has wide influence.