23 February 2010

oh, here we go again

[click image]

Whaling body proposes compromise
11:01 MECCA TIME, 08:01 GMT

The working group set up by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has proposed allowing a limited return to commercial whale hunts, in exchange for a reduction in the number of whales killed annually.

The proposal would allow Japan to continue its hunt of the mammals on a quota basis, while suspending its hunts for the purposes of "research".

The proposal, developed but not endorsed by a 12-nation IWC working group, calls for the suspension of "scientific whaling" - a loophole which Japan uses to circumvent the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

It comes days after Australia threatened to take Japan to the International Criminal Court if it does not stop whaling in the Southern Ocean by November.

Japan has described the Australian threat as "unfortunate" and rejected suggestions its current hunt is illegal.

'Sustainable' catch

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday Hidenobu Sobashima, a Japanese foreign ministry spokesman, said that Japan wants to resolve the dispute through diplomatic channels first.

"We regret that the Australian side has indicated the possibility of bringing the whaling issue to an international court, but both sides have agreed that we will first make an effort to reach a diplomatic solution," he said.

Reports say the IWC group's proposal follows nearly 18 months of closed-door talks aimed at ending a deadlock between pro- and anti-whaling nations.

Cristian Maquieira, the chairman of the IWC's support group, was quoted as saying that any final deal would "reduce catches significantly from current levels" and "establish caps of takes that are within sustainable levels for a 10-year period".

The current quota for hunting under a scientific whaling programme is set at 990 whales each year.

Only three nations – Japan, Norway and Iceland – hunt whales, all of whom argue that whaling is an important part of their culture.

Under the proposal the three countries would also receive quotas set within sustainable levels for each hunted species.


The plan however has received a critical response from conservation groups, with Greenpeace describing the proposal as a "disaster" which it said would only make it more difficult to protect other rapidly declining species such as tuna and sharks.

"The proposal rewards Japan for decades of reprehensible behaviour at the IWC and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," John Frizell, the head of Greenpeace's whales campaign, was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the proposed whaling compromise set a dangerous precedent and could legitimise "scientific" whaling by Japan.

"What we need is to eliminate all whaling in the Southern Ocean, including Japanese commercial whaling thinly disguised as 'scientific research'," said Rob Nicoll, the manager of WWF-Australia's Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative.

"But what we have now is a deal which could make it even easier for Japan to continue taking whales in this ecologically unique place," he added.

"It is difficult to see how determining quotas through politics rather than science can be considered progress."
I would not be the least bit unhappy if Australia decided to enforce a halt to this "scientific research" crap militarily... while they're going about being more diplomatic about curtailing the slaughter, of course. Who of us would mind then if they just never settled on the lesser number?

Yes, yes. I know certain First Nations want to kill whales, and so do the destitute Icelandic whalers... and, too, our seas may be soon so acidic as to cease supporting the food they depend on... so it damn well could be a mercy to just kill them all.

[If you download the Veoh video player, you can see this whole documentary on the humpbacks....]

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