ECO Newsletter
Issue #5: July 27, 2001

Whale illustrations donated by Larry Foster Table of contents:


Another Voice from Grenada

Leslie Pierre is a Grenadian and author of Personally Speaking from the Grenadian Voice. Here are some of his reactions from this week, from his column: Ashamed to be a Grenadian at IWC.

"It is not only that we have made ourselves international prostitutes and caused me embarrassment at previous meetings of the IWC when I heard how other Commissioners spoke of them disparagingly and still do-that has already been well established, even though I don't think enough Grenadians have taken this as seriously as they should.

It is that I was present when, for the second year in succession, my representative, who claims that our money paid for her to come here, could side with the Japanese who are the greatest marauders of the oceans and seas-including the Caribbean-to vote down the call of island people like ourselves in the South Pacific to have a whale sanctuary while they seek to promote and expand their whale watching industry which brings in more and more tourists and more and more money each year in the countries that practice it.


"Precipitous Decline" in Southern Minkes

Ever since 1992 Japan has trumpeted the IWC Scientific Committee estimate of 760,000 Southern Hemisphere minke whales as proof positive that minkes are increasing, plentiful and able to sustain a catch far larger than their "scientific" whaling.

Not any more. Yesterday New Zealand Commissioner McLay called "frankly alarming" the new Scientific Committee report of this year pointing to a "precipitous decline" in minke numbers in the Southern Hemisphere.

How low is still a matter of speculation, but the already abandoned 760,000 figure is now thought to be perhaps twice as high as the true levels.

Commissioner McLay also cited the Scientific Committee's report which "raises further doubts about the usefulness of data obtained from [Japan's] so-called 'scientific whaling.'" It is clear that the population of Southern Hemisphere minke whales may be substantially less than the figure that Japan has consistently used to justify its so-called "scientific whaling" program.

McLay called for adoption of the precautionary approach and suspension of takes of minke whales.

Key Votes

1. Resolution on Incidental Capture, requiring that such captures be counted against overall quotas.(NZ, Austria, Germany, Mexico, UK)
Passed: 22-14-1
Yes: 22 (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA)
No: 14 (Antigua and Barbuda, PR China, Denmark, Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Korea, Norway, Panama, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St. Vincent, Solomon Islands)
Abstain: 1 (Morocco)

2. Schedule Amendment (Brazil) to establish the South Sanctuary
Failed: 19-13-5
Yes: 19 (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA)
No: 13 (Antigua and Barbuda, PR China, Denmark, Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Korea, Norway, Panama, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St. Vincent)
Abstain: 5 (Ireland, Morocco, Oman, Solomon Islands, Switzerland)

3. Resolution by Germany on Norway to halt commercial whaling, institute trade ban, etc.
Passed: 21-15-1
Yes: 21 (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA)
No: 15 (Antigua and Barbuda, PR China, Denmark, Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Norway, Panama, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St. Vincent, Solomon Islands)
Abstain: 1 (Oman)

4. Antigua/Barbuda Resolution reaffirming Commission support for States against "threats of irresponsible NGOs" etc.
Failed: 12-21-2-1
Yes: 12 (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Korea, Norway, Panama, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Solomon Islands)
No: 21 (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA)
Abstain: 2 (China, Morocco)
Not participating: 1 (Denmark)

5. Japan Schedule Amendment to modify 10(e) to grant a quota of 50 W. Pacific minkes for coastal village special needs.
Failed: 15-20-2
Yes: 15 (Antigua and Barbuda, China, Denmark Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Panama, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St Vincent, Solomon Islands)
No: 20 (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA)
Abstain: 2 (Chile, Korea)

6. Japan Resolution urging IWC to work expeditiously to alleviate distress to Japan coastal communities.
Passed: 20-14-3
Yes: 20 (Antigua and Barbuda, China, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, Grenada, Guinea, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Panama, St Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland)
No: 14 (Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, USA)
Abstain: 3 (Argentina, Chile, Ireland)


Whalers-Eat-Whales-Eat Fish

Japan's predatory fishing industry -- including its defiant whalers -- has been seeking to blame whales for the rapid depletion of global fish stocks. This strategy diverts attention from the real cause of the disappearing fish: massive overfishing by hugely-overcapitalized fleets. And it provides a convenient justification for resuming large-scale commercial whaling.

The simplistic whales-eat-fish argument has been assiduously promoted by Japan and its "wise use" allies at numerous international fisheries and agriculture forums, as well as in a propaganda barrage aimed at less-developed countries. It is a dangerous deception.

Now, fortunately, major governments and leading scientists are rising to challenge the false and misleading assertions of the Japanese fishing industry. The IWC agreed Thursday to launch a major study of the interactions between whales and fish stocks, through its Scientific Committee and at a special intersessional workshop to be held before the next IWC meeting in May 2002.

There is already considerable scientific evidence that whales have very little impact on commercial fish stocks. Over the next year, the IWC, FAO and marine scientists from around the world will examine the roles of whales and fish in the highly-complex marine ecosystem. In five major fishing grounds in the North and South Atlantic and Bering Sea, studies show that other fish are the major predators on commercial fish, ranging from 50% to 92%.

Commercial fishing is the next largest predator overall. And seals and sea lions, not whales, are the major marine mammal predators.

In several fisheries it was found that adult cod are the major predators of juvenile cod. Herring eggs face similar heavy cannibalism. The Japanese fishing industry has lately been blaming sperm whales for eating too much squid. But sperm whales largely prey on deep-water squid and fish species that are of no commercial value. A paper from the Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Science by Trites, Christensen and Pauly states:

"A large fraction (>60%) of the food caught by (these) marine mammals consists of deep sea squids and very small deep sea fishes not harvestable by humans, thus limiting the extent of direct competition between fisheries and marine mammals. Moreover, the most important consumers of commercially exploited fish are other predatory fish, not marine mammals."

Bryde's whales are also being blamed for eating valuable fish, but their major diet is euphausiids, small shrimp-like crustaceans found in warmer waters but similar to krill, rather than fish. Most baleen whales in the Southern Ocean, the habitat of most of these surviving animals, eat krill. They do not usually eat fish.

It appears that the primary goal of Japan's "research" whaling in recent years has been to prove that whales eat fish-and are stealing those fish from the mouths of the starving masses of the world. The government-controlled Institute of Cetacean Research, which operates the Japanese whaling fleet in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean, has been assiduously carving open the bellies of harpooned whales to display, in vivid color, heaps of suspiciously fresh-looking fish consumed by minke, Bryde's and sperm whales. Anchovy, sardines, pollock and squid are all carefully documented as if evidence in a murder-case indictment of whales for daring to consume, as they have for millions of years, their small part of the ocean ecosystem.

The Japanese case against the whales, published in innumerable documents and broadsides, implies that the whales and other marine mammals have no right to consume any fish, whether commercial or not, and that wiping out these competitors will wondrously increase the number of fish that the greedy Japanese fishermen and trading companies can catch and market. That is not only unproven, but scientifically naive.

The marine ecosystem is highly complex, and interactions of the numerous species is barely understood.

Norway learned a bitter lesson over the past 50 years from its bounty on orcas (killer whales), which were blamed for eating wild salmon and other fish. More than 1,000 orcas were ruthlessly hunted down and shot. Only in the last two decades did the Norwegian fishermen realize their folly: seal populations have exploded, gobbling up cod and other valuable fish, because their primary predator, the orcas, had been decimated.


Rollie's Folly

Obfuscation is a diplomat's duty. But seldom does one resort to an outright lie-especially in a roomful of critics and video cameras.

The U.S. commissioner was "economical with the truth," as the English say, when he answered a question about the latest Makah whaling permit.

On Wednesday, the Austrian commissioner asked: "As I remember in Monaco, we agreed to this hunt under the conditions that cultural, subsistence and nutritional need is proven. Therefore, my question. Does the Environmental Assessment report take into account the cultural, subsistence and nutritional need?"

Replied the U.S. Commissioner: "Finally, to the question from the delegate of Austria, that the Environmental Assessment has considered the issues of cultural, subsistence and nutritional needs."

However, a word-by-word review of the entire 92-page Environmental Assessment shows not a single mention of the Makah tribe's nutritional need. The phrase "nutritional need" never appears in the document. The word "nutrition" appears twice, on pages 38 and 39, but in reference to the gray whales' nutrition, or lack thereof, and not the Makahs."

Sadly, the U.S. Government's record in the whole Makah affair has been riddled with deceit and deception.


Clothes to Die For

Talbots, one of America's most popular retail clothing chains, has been targeted by EIA, The HSUS and Greenpeace because of Talbots' links with Japan's whale and dolphin kills through its majority shareholder, JUSCO (U.S.A.), Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of JUSCO Co. Ltd. of Japan.

Investigations have shown that JUSCO is a major distributor of whale, dolphin and porpoise meat sold through its network of hundreds of supermarkets in Japan. The three groups are calling on Talbots to persuade JUSCO to permanently end the sale of all whale, dolphin and porpoise products in JUSCO's 625 supermarkets and to pursue the goal of changing the Japanese government's pro-whaling policy.

The report by EIA reveals:

  • 46.4% of 388 JUSCO supermarkets surveyed sold whale meat;
  • approximately 60% of JUSCO supermarkets visited by EIA sold whale, dolphin or porpoise products;
  • whale meat from two species of whale (minke and sei), protected both by the regulations of IWC and the CITES), were on sale in JUSCO supermarkets;
  • sei whale meat sold by JUSCO has not been legally hunted under IWC regulations since 1988;
  • bottlenose dolphin and Dall's porpoise meat was sold by JUSCO as whale meat.
Allan Thornton, president of EIA, said, "Since JUSCO (U.S.A.) acquired majority ownership of the Talbot's clothing chain in 1988, more than a quarter of a million whales, dolphins and porpoises have been killed by Japanese hunters. Four JUSCO or JUSCO (U.S.A.), Inc. executives sit on the Talbots's board, and Talbots must use their influence to ensure JUSCO ends the sale of all whale, dolphin and porpoise products."

Patricia A. Forkan, executive VP The HSUS, said "We aren't saying Talbots and JUSCO are out killing whales. But by selling whale and dolphin meat in Japanese supermarkets, JUSCO is helping to create the market that fuels the Japanese government's commercial whaling policies."

Greenpeace's Audrey Cardwell said, "Japan is expanding its commercial catch of whales protected under international law. JUSCO and Talbots must act to ensure JUSCO supermarkets end the sale of all cetacean products."

Golden Flukes
«Mexico»
  For strong statements and votes and a historic change to support the commission's role in protection of small cetaceans.
«New Zealand»
  For leading the charge against Japan's vote-buying.
«Austria»
  For seeking the inclusion of LFA in threats to cetaceans.

Copper Cockroaches
«Icelandic Commissioner Asmundsson»
  For achieving new heights of arrogance in the day-one melodrama, and then whining for the rest of the week   about what his vote would have been if he had one.
«Japanese Commissioner Komatsu»
  For failing to recognize the difference between a cockroach and a whale.

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