Two humpback whales breaching.
During the first vote on the opening day of the Conference,
Japan movedto have any reference for a discussion on conservation
of smallcetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) to be struck from the
agenda. Themotion was defeated 32 votes to 30. The second and
deciding vote onJapan's call for secret ballots was defeated by 33
votes to 30. Thismeans the whalers have stumbled in their bid to
take over the IWC.
UPDATE: But we lost thisone...
By a vote of 33 to 32 with oneabstention, the IWC adopted on
Sunday something called "The St. KittsDeclaration" which lays out
the whalers' case for a return to whaling,and declares a commitment
to "normalize" the functions of theIWC. Aside from, de facto,
declaring a commitment to end themoratorium on commercial whaling,
its most significant implication isthat it will be used to say that
the IWC has accepted the whalers'argument that whales are eating
too many fish. Which means that theresumption of whaling will be
said to be a matter of food security forcoastal nations: i.e. since
fish stocks are dwindling, and whales eatfish, we therefore must
kill more whales. We say blamingwhales for the massive fisheries
depletions in the world today is likesaying woodpeckers are the
cause of deforestation.
Shane Rattenbury, head of our Oceans Campaign and leader of
ourSouthern Ocean expedition earlier this year, was at the IWC in
StKitts. "Whaling history may not have been rewritten this year but
itwas too close for comfort. The anti-whaling countries must see
this asa wake-up call and add action to their rhetoric about
protectingwhales," he challenged. "We're going back to the Southern
Ocean tooppose the hunt. What are anti-whaling nations going to do
to stop thehunt?"
With a simple majority at the Commission, Japan would not
havebeen able tooverturn the commercial moratorium on whaling but
it could have wreakedhavoc with the IWC's measure to protect
whales. It could haveinstigated secret ballots, forced a resolution
endorsing its"scientific" whaling program and called for on the
Convention for theTrade in endangered Species (CITES) to lift its
ban on the trade inminke whales. Already our ship had been denied
access to St Kitts underthe excuse of "national security
"For twenty years the Government of Japan has kept the whaling
fleet onlife support under the guise of science, its time to face
the fact thatthe whaling industry is dead in the water. It is time
to stop thehunt," added Shane.
But the battle isn't over - this year 935 minke whales - and
10endangered fin whales - will be on the scientific menu. The
results ofthis "science" are chopped and boxed for market on the
"research" shipthe Nisshin Maru.
The price of "science"
For years Japan has been trying overturn the 1986 IWC
moratoriumoncommercial whaling with a vote buying program aimed at
developingnations. But one of our blog readers from St Kitts says,
"I don't thinkJapan's bribe is going to save lives in St. Kitts ….
As a developingnation with emphasis on eco tourism, and also whale
watching - yeswhale watching - right in the channel between St.
Kitts and Nevis. Thisselling of our vote to Japan is a travesty and
will haunt Kittians andNevisians for decades to come."
This year we will once again challenge the whalers on the
highseas, the question is what are the anti-whaling countries
We will continue to show the world what the whalers don't want
youto see: the brutal reality of whaling. We will continue to
peacefullyput our lives on the line to protect individual whales
from theirharpoons. And we will continue to hold the anti-whaling
countries toaccount until they take strong action to end
In the meantime, you can:
Check out the weblog
All the news from the team at the IWC in St Kitts