IWC- stop the drift to whaling

Press release - 22 July, 2004
Greenpeace today sounded the alarm over a pending agreement by the IWC on a process that could lead to the resumption of commercial whaling.

The Revised Management Scheme, RMS, put forward by Danish chairman of the IWC, Henrik Fischer was developed in closed meetings of Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the USA and would lead to the lifting of the ban on commercial whaling, if adopted.

The outline in the proposal suggests that if the RMS is agreed, there should be an automatic lifting of the moratorium with a 5 year restriction to whaling in coastal waters followed by an expansion to all waters.

"The idea that the moratorium on whaling could be automatically lifted is absurd," said Greenpeace International campaigner John Frizell. "The United States has already rejected this link. We call on Denmark, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden to do the same."

Greenpeace completely opposes any return to commercial whaling, which has always depleted whale populations.

Secret ballots, closed meetings and the "vote buying" are the buzzwords of the 56th IWC meeting. When the rest of the world is aiming for increased transparency, the IWC is attempting to reduce transparency, with the RMS process as a clear example. The effect could be devastating for the world's whale populations. (1)

"The future of the whales cannot be decided behind closed doors. That is the way the IWC operated in the past and we all know what it did to the whales then," said Frizell.

The recruiting of votes of some of the poorest countries in the world has turned into an annual activity at the IWC with the aim of reaching enough votes to overthrow the ban on commercial whaling. (2)

"The hundreds of millions of people who oppose whaling have the right to see the plans for renewed whaling, not have them developed in secret and then voted through before anyone outside the IWC is aware of what they say. A transparent process is crucial for the IWC to keep its credibility in the world,"concluded Frizell.

Greenpeace's campaign to oppose commercial whaling has been underway for nearly thirty years and will continue until the threat is over. The next meeting of the IWC will be in June 2005, in Korea

Notes: (1) The annual IWC meeting took place from 19th-22nd of July in Sorrento, Italy. The IWC was established in 1946 in response to the over catching of whales and it agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982 because of its continuing failure to manage whales without their populations declining. (2) The pro whaling lobby in the IWC is lead by Japan. Since the 1990s they have used a tactic of buying votes to gain a majority to overturn the ban on whaling. "We have been putting our efforts to appeal to every potential nation at all levels and at all possible venues," Japan's IWC Commissioner explained it to the Japanese press last month.Japan's former vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Hiraoki Kameya, said in June 1999 that it was "essential to increase the number of nations supportive to Japan ... [and therefore] necessary to couple effectively the ODA, Overseas developing aid, and the promotion of IWC membership."Antigua's former Prime Minister Lester Bird said, "I make no bones about it ... if we are able to support the Japanese and the quid pro quo is that they are going to give us some assistance ... that is part of why we do so."