According to news reports out of Hawaii, Bush appointees on the International Whaling Commission - Doug DeMaster and commission chairman William Hogarth - participated in closed-door negotiations with Japan to finalize a deal that would allow increased whaling off the coast of Japan in return for marginal limits on Japan's illegal commercial whaling program in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The trade-off will not benefit whale conservation and could actually put additional endangered populations at risk.
Such a deal would directly violate President Obama's stated policy of working to end Japanese whaling. In December of 2007, then Senator Obama responded to a question from Greenpeace by laying out his foreign policy on whaling issues:
"As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling," Obama wrote. "Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable."
"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have the opportunity to show the world that they're in charge and that the United States is firmly committed to marine conservation by appointing new commissioners to the IWC who will faithfully implement President Obama's foreign policies," said Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner Phil Kline, a longtime commercial fisherman. "We hope that these Bush appointees' actions aren't allowed to set a precedent for foreign policy freelancing by other Bush holdovers.'"
Japan's commercial whaling operation currently targets around 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales each season in the Southern Ocean, under the guise of scientific research. Most of the whale meat is sold in Japan's commercial market.
A review of this program by the IWC's Scientific Committee found that it has failed to reach a single one of its "scientific" objectives. The IWC has stated that it does not need the data produced by this program and has repeatedly asked Japan to end its hunt. Moreover, some populations of minke whale off the coast of Japan - known as J-Stock - are classified as endangered and are at risk from an increase in coastal whaling.
"Although the Bush administration is gone, these appointees are sticking around to perpetuate Bush's anti-environment foreign policy legacy," said Phil Kline, Greenpeace's senior oceans campaigner and a longtime commercial fisherman. "It's time for them to wake up to the fact that there's a new captain on board - and he wants to provide a future for these magnificent creatures."
Other contacts: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace USA: + 1 202 319 2493 For images: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/20090126Whaling/ Bob Meyers, Senior Photo Editor, Greenpeace USA + 1 202 319 2453
VVPR info: Response from then presidential candidate Barack Obama available at: /usa/Global/usa/binaries/2010/4/obama-questionnaire-response.pdf Response from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: /usa/Global/usa/binaries/2008/7/clinton-questionnaire-response.pdf Washington Post story about the attempts to craft a deal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/24/AR2009012402053_pf.html