>> The Pen is Mightier than the Harpoon
The Pen is Mightier than the Harpoon
The third day of the IWC meeting was disrupted for several hours Wednesday when a number of pro-whaling governments complained to the Commission about "written statements made by NGOs and in particular by the content of E.C.O. volumes 2 and 3 dated 17th and 18th June 2003 respectively."
The complaints led to a special, secret meeting of the commissioners. When the commissioners returned to the plenary in the afternoon, the chairman issued a formal Commission statement (IWC/55/31) attacking the NGOs and ECO and demanding an apology from ECO and a statement from ECO sponsors "to formally dissociate themselves from the offending statements."
Although the Commission statement does not say so, there are reports that ECO No. 4 (this issue) may be banned from the IWC meeting hall.
The IWC statement, as well as a response to the Commission from most of the ECO sponsors, is published below.
Because the Commission's complaint failed to identify even one specific complaint, neither the ECO sponsors nor ECO are able to respond to the alleged offensive statements.
Because the commissioners' meeting was secret, ECO is unable to report on what was said and by whom in the more than two hours of closed-door debate.
ECO urges the Commission to provide all participants in the annual meeting with a list of the statements at issue, and the names of those governments or individuals who feel offended. Only then can the alleged offenses be addressed.
The Commission's complaint targets issues two and three of ECO this week. They may be viewed on the website of Earth Island Institute at www.earthisland.org.
It is not the duty of ECO or any free press to apologize to any government or international institution for publishing the truth or honest opinion, however much that may offend.
Critics should understand that the truth will out. Shooting the messenger may be a convenient way to evade responsibility or cover up, but reality must intrude in the end. The job of ECO is to report the news of whaling and the IWC as we see it.
The Commission's attack on "a number of written statements made by NGOs and in particular by the content of E.C.O." fails to identify what is offensive, and to whom it is offensive. ECO is therefore unable to even respond to this criticism.
The Commission states that the unspecified, allegedly offensive statements "constitute an abuse of the privileges accorded to the accredited observers." What "privileges" are being abused, and by whom?
Banning a newspaper is a serious action in this age of transparency and good governance. It will only increase public interest in the activities of the commission and its member governments.
Shortly after IWC Chairman Bo Fernholm put out his statement denouncing ECO (that would be us) for "language which was in the view of the Commission extremely offensive impugning the Sovereignty of a number of Contracting Governments to this Commission..." (see below), a press release from Alan Macnow of the Japan Whaling Association was put out on Commission media tables titled, "US Official Admits Environmental Groups Bought IWC Votes."
Having spent much of Wednesday denouncing ECO for allegedly impugning the integrity of its members, no doubt today shall see Mr. Macnow similarly rebuked for his disparaging remarks about U.S. Deputy Commissioner Michael Tillman. We look forward to publishing Mr. Macnow's apology.
Exact Text--typos and all--of official IWC protest against NGO groups and ECO, 18 June 2003
IWC/55/31 Statement by the Chair of the Commission
The Commission as a whole has been severely distressed by a number of written statements made by NGOs and in particular by the content of E.C.O. volumes 2 and 3 dated 17th and 18th June 2003 respectively.
These contained language which was in the view of the commission extremely offensive impugning the Sovereignty of a number of Contracting Governments to this Commission and containing significant factual inaccuracies.
The Commission therefore calls on E.C.O. to print a formal apology to be distributed during the course of this meeting. In addition to this apology, the publications of this organization may longer by circulated within the confines of our meeting halls and associated areas for the remainder of this annual meeting.
The Commission unequivocally condemns these statements and considers that they constitute an abuse of the privileges accorded to the accredited observers.
The Commission further calls on those organizations listed as sponsors of E.C.O. to formally dissociate themselves from the offending statements; failing which their accredited status as observers may be called into question.
IWC 55, Berlin, Germany
We the undersigned organizations are not aware of what factual inaccuracies are referred to in the Chairman's statement IWC/55/31.
We regret any offence caused to any contracting member of the International Whaling Commission by ECO.
We draw attention to the fact that ECO explicitly states that the views expressed therein are not necessarily those of the sponsoring organizations.
We further note that a broad range of NGO publications have been circulated at this meeting. While some may contain factual errors and attacks on other NGOs, we continue to support freedom of expression in this forum by all.
(signed by) American Cetacean Society, Animal Welfare Institute, Campaign Whale, Canadian Marine Environment Protection Society, Cetacean Society International, Cousteau Society, Dolphin Connection, Earth Island Institute, Earthtrust, ECCEA, Greenpeace, Humane Society International, Human Society of the US, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Wildlife Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Robin des Bois, RSPCA, Swiss Coalition for the Protection of Whales, Swiss Working Group for the Protection of Marine Mammals, and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature).
It is ironic, indeed, that just as the Commission attempts to sweep allegations of corruption in the whaling camp under the rug, the leading industrial nations are meeting in Berlin to attack the growing corruption in the world's financial system.
The Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development is tackling the trillon-dollar money-laundering industry. Corruption by governments, corporations and organized crime is facilitated by banks and other financial institutions in many nations. The Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development's Financial Action Task Force recently produced its latest "Name and Shame" list of countries that have failed to combat money-laundering. Russia and several eastern Caribbean countries that had been listed were taken off the blacklist after the U.S. and European countries threatened sanctions. But St. Vincent and the Grenadines remain in non-compliance.
Tomorrow, ECO plans to move across town to cover Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development corruption issues. We expect a much friendlier reception.
ECO has discovered, buried in the fine print of Appendix K of the Scientific Committee Report, that scientist Chris Clark is heading up the subcommittee on acoustic threats for the IWC.
Surely, this couldn't be the same Dr. Clark who led the U.S. Navy's tests of Low Frequency Active (LFA) Sonar on whales off California and Hawai'i? Could this be the same person dispatched around the world to run scientific interference for the Navy when intense sonars have caused mass strandings of whales?
Incredibly, it is so. An objective observer may be forgiven for wondering whether Dr. Clark may have a conflict of interest.
What is smaller than a "large whale" but larger than a minke? If you guessed a Baird's Beaked whale you are right! Japan argues that Baird's beaked whales are 'small' cetaceans despite reaching lengths of 12.8 meters, far larger than a minke.
Since the moratorium was passed a total of over 1,000 have been killed in Japan's coastal waters in four annual hunts, with the meat sold commercially under no guise of 'science'. The hunts are grossly inhumane; EIA was told that in some hunts whales are shot once with a non-exploding, cold harpoon and then left to slowly bleed to death for up to six hours as the boats drag the whales back to shore. While the IWC continues to disagree over small cetaceans these hunts continue to be ignored.
The hunts are used to ensure that the skills, equipment and boats for coastal whaling remain operational in case Japan's desperate hopes are realized and the commission agrees to endorse coastal whaling. In the mean while, the majority of the meat from Baird's Beaked whales is processed and canned mixed with sauces to mask the taste of the meat, which many Japanese find to be second rate. Unfortunately the sauce can not mask the toxicity of the meat; one sample of Baird's beaked meat purchased directly after the kill in Hokodate last year, was found to contain mercury and methlymercury levels significantly higher than Japan's permitted levels.
The IWC effectively forgot about these rather large 'small whales' in 1992 when they fell off the agenda. The Scientific Committee has repeated expressed concern about the lack of information on the population size of the Baird's beaked whale in Japan's coastal waters. Meanwhile, Japan refuses to submit any data to the IWC regarding killing methods used during the hunts or subject any of the data from its research and management program to international scrutiny.
The Baird's beaked whale hunt is a commercial hunt that is cruel and unregulated, and continues only in an attempt to maintain its capability to resume coastal hunting of large whales. Baird's beaked whales should be recognized as large whales and included under the protection of the moratorium with an immediate end of the commercial hunts.
The Japanese have slaughtered more than 300,000 porpoises in coastal waters, using hand-thrown harpoons, since the commercial whaling ban went into effect in 1986. Often a harpooned porpoise will then be gaffed, hauled aboard and left to die of shock and blood loss. The porpoises can take 10-15 minutes to die.
"The commercial whaling ban must be extended to smaller whale species, like the Dall's porpoise, before they too are hunted to extinction," said Campaign Whale Director Andy Ottaway.
Japanese fishermen kill an average of 20,000 small whales and dolphins each year. In addition to Dall's porpoise, other species hunted include bottlenose whales, striped and Risso's dolphins, pilot whales and Baird's beaked whales. Cetaceans that are struck and lost may account for an additional 50,000 fatalities since 1986. Despite repeated concerns of IWC scientists, and an IWC Resolution in 2001, the Japanese government has refused to stop the hunt or supply data to allow the Dall's porpoise population to be assessed by the IWC's Scientific Committee.
Now, pollution levels threaten human health, as studies show that these cetaceans are accumulating toxins including mercury and PCB's.
One of the whales' best friends, Christine Stevens, died last year after more than 50 years of leading the conservation and animal welfare community. She was one of a handful of activists who launched the save-the-whales campaign in the early 1970's. The Animal Welfare Institute, which she started in 1951, publicized the plight of the whales in hundreds of newspaper, magazine, radio and TV ads across the U.S. and around the world over the past three decades. Based in Washington, D.C., she led the Congressional battle to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which called for a moratorium on commercial whaling and led to the U.N. resolution at the Stockholm Conference. She attended many IWC and CITES meetings to press for bans on whaling and the trade in endangered species. An uncompromising advocate for wildlife conservation and for humane treatment of all animals, she set a shining example for humanity.
ECO is published on the occasion of the 55th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission by:
ECO is funded entirely by nongovernmental contributions. The views expressed may not be those of each ECO sponsor. ECO is available from Earth Island Institute, 300 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, or http://www.earthisland.org