IWC "Normalisation" Meeting: Catch More Whales

Feature story - February 15, 2007
After three days of meetings in Tokyo, the pro-whaling members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have concluded that the best plan to move forward is to keep hunting more whales.

Greenpeace Japan spokesperson Junichi Sato discusses vote buying outside the "Normalization" meeting for the IWC, organised by the Japanese government.

We are not exactly surprised - the mission statement of this meeting was, after all 'to put forward specific measures to resume the function of the IWC as a resource management organisation'.   "That basically means hunting whales, explains Shane Rattenbury, Head of Our Oceans campaign, who was at the meeting. 

The Japanese government this morning presented a new proposal for what they claim is "small scale" coastal whaling, but rather than continue to call it science, it is now being referred to as "community whaling".  However, the plan remains unaltered - to catch 220 whales, despite having virtually no market, no scientific justification, and no community benefit.

Business as usual

"This is a clear sign that 'normalisation of the IWC' simply means continuing with the current situation - catch as many whales as possible," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan whales campaigner. "No new ideas have come from this meeting.  The only concrete proposals are to have secret ballots at the IWC, to hold closed meetings, to exclude NGO's where possible, and to keep catching the same number of whales." 

It is clear the IWC needs to be modernised - to increase transparency, and to explore ways to protect whales for the future. The onus now clearly rests on the governments from other countries to seize the initiative, and make the IWC a body that works for the whales and not for the whalers.

Shane added that perhaps the best way to sum up this meeting is to let the delegates speak for themselves. 

"I have worked for 25 years in European affairs and 13 years in the Brussels Council of Ministers, which works very well, because there is no access to meetings for press and NGO’s" - one delegate evidently committed to transparency

"I am a human being, and I get frustrated. I want to see the resumption of whaling as soon as possible" - the Chair of the Normalisation meeting.

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