Also in this issue: Makah Faux Pas · EU Boo-Boo · Japan's Cruelty · St. Kitts' Secret
Eco 2006, 20 June, Volume LVIII, No. 1. Reports from the International Whaling Commission annual meeting in St. Kitts, Caribbean

Cartoon Science Wins! IWC Approves St. Kitts Declaration

St. Kitts and Japan finally won a vote before the full Commission, bringing up the bogus St. Kitts Declaration and passing it by one vote, effectively blind-siding the Conservation-minded nations.

The original proposed St. Kitts Declaration, from June 17th, attacked NGOs, claimed whales were eating all the ocean’s fish, and emphasized the need to "normalize" the IWC by going back to the good ol’ days of 1946 when whales were slaughtered left and right with no compunctions for their welfare or protection.

When confronted with the language on Saturday, several delegates objected to this first draft "normalization" declaration, because St. Kitts and Japan had earlier expressed their interest in submitting a reconciliation document that all members of the IWC could support, in the interest of reducing tensions and getting the IWC "back on track."

Instead, as ECO reported yesterday, the proposal attacked the conservation-minded nations, the NGO community, and the fish-eating whales themselves. There were no provisions for healing, compromise or consideration for "the other side" of the issues debated within the Commission. The draft was just another diatribe by whalers against everybody else in the world.

Hearing the objections to their early draft, St. Kitts and Japan went back to the declaration to "fix" it.

However, a reading of the new June 18th Declaration versus the June 17th version reveals that, for all practical purposes, there is no difference between the two drafts. In a word, none!

Some words are different, mostly minor editorial changes. On the subject of whales gobbling fish, the new draft leaves out a claim that whales eat "5-6 times the total world catch for human consumption" (which is a bogus figure, as scientific fisheries research will readily demonstrate), but still claims whales are eating the world’s fish and harming coastal nations, food security, etc. etc. The gist and most of the wording of that paragraph remain the same. Virtually all the other "whereas" paragraphs remained completely unchanged.

Similarly, some minor word changes were made in the "therefore" clauses, but none change the original meaning of those paragraphs.

Conservation-minded nations objected to the new draft and expected to negotiate with Japan on the language. But Japan and St. Kitts, finally having enough pro-whaling delegates present at the meeting, many receiving fisheries aid from Japan in exchange for their support for commercial whaling, demanded a vote on the St. Kitts Declaration, winning 33-32.

Once again, as ECO reported yesterday, St. Kitts is doing Japan’s dirty work, and such biased and wrong-headed declarations demean this beautiful country and its people.

The Commission’s narrow majority that approved this anti-whale, anti-conservation resolution should be ashamed of themselves.


Secret Ballots Illegal at Whaling Talks, But ...

The proposals for secret ballots and other mechanisms embedded in an international whaling convention are designed to promote the slaughter of whales and are illegal, says the Humane Society of Canada, which conducted an extensive study of country laws and regulations related to government secrecy and free speech.

As member countries of the United Nations and other bodies like the EU, all of these countries have constitutions and laws that guarantee freedom of speech and expression. HSC notes: "These civil servants and elected officials (on delegations attending the IWC) need a harsh dose of reality. They have neither the mandate nor the authority from their own citizens to engage in secret practices that are illegal in their own countries."

Copies of some of these laws can be found on the HSC website: www.humanesociety.com


…Now We Know

"As a matter of fact we are convinced that it was because of a secret ballot that St. Kitts-Nevis was able to defeat France in 2004 in Italy for the right to host this year’s conference in Basseterre." –Lloyd Pascal, Dominica’s IWC Commissioner, as quoted in HardbeatNews.com, June 17, 2006.


Commercial Fisheries Kill More Fish than Whales

The Humane Society of the US has issued another volume of their series of scientific reports by fisheries experts showing that human commercial fisheries have substantially replaced whales as consumers of fish.

The claim that whales are harming fish stocks and competing with humans is largely a false argument by whaling nations to justify the continuation of their brutal whaling industry.

The HSUS study, conducted by fisheries experts with the University of British Columbia, Canada, and the University of St. Andrews, UK, demonstrates that estimates of fish consumption by twelve great whale species in both 1970 and 1990 is substantially lower than estimates made in 1910, when many of the great whale species were still abundant. Minke whales, the study emphasizes, are indeed numerous today but do not consume large amounts of fish compared to the rapacious fishing fleets, such as those controlled by Japan.

Commercial fishing catches far outweighs the combined total of whale utilization of fish in 1990. Indeed, according to the study, "in some of these areas humans have been and are extracting food resources from the oceans at rates that are likely up to 100 times higher than those of any other marine mammal species in marine ecosystems, even after we account for the considerable uncertainties associated with our estimates."

The study concludes: "Consequently, there is little evidence for the notion that the great whales or any marine mammal species are to blame for current fisheries problems."

As a grade school child might say: "Well, duh!"

For further information, go to: www.hsus.org


Makahs Join Russian Whale Hunt

Australians for Animals is raising important questions about a whaling junket taken by members of the US Makah Indian tribe to the Federation of Russia last summer, including possibly illegally helping Russian whalers kill gray whales.

In an e-mail dated Sept. 13, 2005, Nathan Pamplin, the Makah tribe’s biologist, announced he and two other Makah tribe representatives visited Russia "to examine the type of data they collected on landed whales" and "to participate in a cultural exchange to observe and get trained on whaling techniques and processing landed whales."

The Makah tribe claims to be a subsistence operation aimed at upholding their own tribal cultural rituals. Why then is the tribe visiting a modern catcher boat operation in Siberia to learn whaling and processing techniques?

The Makah’s original proposal to the US for a resumption of whaling included the prospect of commercial whaling, to provide Japan with yet another source of whale meat and (probably much more importantly) to undermine the US position in the IWC against a resumption of commercial whaling. To date, the US government has resisted this approach, limiting the Makah to aboriginal subsistence whaling.

And did the Makah illegally help the Russians kill gray whales during this trip? And which gray whales were killed - any from the seriously endangered Western population of gray whales, the most endangered great whale population in the world?

The US delegation has a lot of explaining to do to the Commission and to the US Congress about this particular hunting excursion. As Australians for Animals states: "Killing whales in Russia is a demonstration of bad faith by the Makah tribe. These actions do not encourage US citizens to believe that the tribe is either law abiding or responsible."

The tribe’s future whaling efforts in the US have been held up by a lawsuit from Australians for Animals and other environmental groups. The US government is proposing a technical "waiver" to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, a process that has never been done before.


Japan’s Cruel Minke Whale Hunt

Japan’s so-called "scientific whaling" scheme in the Antarctic Ocean is cruel to minke whales, causing prolonged suffering and pain, as documented by film shot by the environmental group Greenpeace.

Scientists working with the International Fund for Animal Welfare examined the footage taken by the Greenpeace expedition to confront Japan’s whaling vessels. Of the 16 minke whale kills filmed, one whale took over one-half hour to die, while the average time to death was 10 minutes of agony.

In two cases, minke whales were asphyxiated. The Japanese harpooners had hit these whales in the tail, and hoisted the whales up to keep their blowholes underwater until they died.

"Back in the 1950’s it was recognized that whaling was inhumane," Vassili Papastavrou of IFAW told the BBC. "and really nothing very much has changed since then."

Australia’s Minister of the Environment Ian Campbell described the footage as "absolutely inhumane and quite disgusting. It is a horrendous thing – it is absolutely abysmal, it is wrong and it has to stop." Campbell later presented this evidence to the Commission during its discussion of the Japanese research whaling scheme.

A spokesman for the Japanese delegation told the BBC that: "The time to death of the majority of whales is less than 30 seconds."


Time for the EU to Stop Trade Benefits for Norway and Iceland

Norway and Iceland, two countries that have refused to join the European Union, benefit enormously from a series of complex trade agreements with the EU. In effect, Norway and Iceland are treated like EU countries, but without the obligations to fulfill many of the requirements for EU membership.

The Humane Society of Canada notes that the EU now includes 25 countries and 456 million people. Many other countries are seeking entry to the EU. One of the important requirements for EU membership includes agreement to ban commercial whaling.

Asks HSC Chairman and CEO Michael O’sullivan: "In our view, the time for the EU to demand hard answers from Norway and Iceland, two of the most prosperous countries on Earth, is long overdue. What makes them deserve such special and preferential treatment? Why should they still be allowed to slaughter whales in defiance of EU law and an international whaling ban?"

Allowing Norway and Iceland to pick and choose which qualifications for membership they like and which they do not is patently unfair and prejudicial to the rest of the member states that play by the EU rules.

In conclusion, HSC says that Norway and Iceland do not deserve a free ride on the whaling issue. HSC is urging citizens of EU member countries to send a clear signal to the EU leadership and their own governments that they expect Norway and Iceland to end commercial and so-called "scientific whaling" or forfeit their privileged trade status.


Fun Facts on Whale Watching

1,500,000,000: The amount, in US dollars, of income annually generated by whale watching worldwide.

100: The number of countries that offer whale watching cruises to the public.

14: The number of different countries represented at the First International Workshop on the Management and Non-lethal Use of Cetaceans held in Argentina Sept. 27-29, 2005.

Zero, nil, nada: The number of whaling countries sending representatives to the Workshop.

(These statistics were gleaned from the IWC Report submitted by the government of Argentina for Item 13, Whale Watching.)


Japan Aid for Pro-whaling Votes?

"Japan has given six Caribbean nations – Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Antigua, Grenada and St. Kitts – nearly £60m (€87.8m) in fishing aid since 1998 and most of the small islands have consistently backed Japan on whaling" –IOL Breaking News


Bribes in Japan are Tax Deductible

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has charged in several recent reports that Japan is not properly implementing anti-bribery statutes in the country to be in compliance with the Anti-Bribery Convention. In fact, according to the OECD reports, "entertainment and social" expenses, which include, according to Japanese authorities, bribe payments, are tax deductible up to a certain limit, depending on the size of the companies and/or the size of the parent company.

The OECD report found that there were few Japanese prosecutions for bribery that ever made it into court, and that in many cases, those found guilty were given suspended sentences. They also found loopholes in the law which allow a Japanese national to give a bribe in a foreign country and not be bound by Japanese law.

The reports by the OECD can be found on its website: www.oecd.org by doing a search for "Japan Anti-Bribery Convention."