Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIV · Panama City, Panama · No. 5 · Friday July 6, 2012

Acrobat .pdf of issue No. 5

Korean Surprise: Phony Scientific Whaling Proposed

For several years, the government of South Korea has made allusions to wanting to go whaling like the Japanese. This week, the delegation of Korea surprised the Commission by announcing their own phony “scientific” whaling proposal. Apparently, having just one country embarrassing itself globally by pursuing commercial whaling via a trumped-up research program is not enough! Joon-Suk Kang, Chair of the South Korean delegation, made the announcement on Wednesday, amid discussion of Japan’s proposed small type coastal whaling proposal and the annual rant against the interference by Sea Shepherd against Japan’s so-called “research” whaling in the Antarctic. In fact, Korea is beginning to sound just like Japan, having voted against the Southern…
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Japan’s Whaling Fleets Financed War on Korea and China

It is the darkest secret of Japan’s whaling industry. In the 1930s, when Japan invaded Korea, Manchuria, and later the rest of China, Japan’s pelagic whaling industry was owned by the Japanese Imperial Army. Six huge whaling fleets ruthlessly plundered the world’s whales for the sole purpose of raising funds to finance the invasions. Japan’s occupation force in Manchuria, the Kwantung Army, exploited the vast natural resources of the northern China region through the Manchurian Heavy Industries Corporation, which was set up by the army in 1931 after the invasion of Manchuria. Korea became a virtual colony of Japan. “All of the pelagic fleets sent to the Antarctic were owned and operated…
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In Memorium: Alberta “Binki” Nora Thompson

Alberta “Binki” Nora Thompson was a Makah tribal elder who opposed her tribe’s effort to kill gray whales for the first time since the 1920s. Mrs. Thompson attended five IWC meetings and stood her ground as she faced off with the Makah tribe’s government that supported whaling. Even though there were several elders who, with Alberta, signed a petition opposing the hunt, it was she who remained the public symbol of tribal opposition. For that, she faced an unrelenting barrage of persecution from pro-whale killing factions within her tribe. Mrs. Alberta “Binki” Nora Thompson died this spring. At her service, her pastor wept openly as he described Binki’s suffering from that persecution…
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Are Whales People, Too?

Whales are not human, but they could soon be considered people—a legal standing which would put a serious wrench into allocating whaling quotas of any kind. Last February, the Declaration of Cetacean Rights was presented at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science. Backed by noted scientists and compassionate members of the public, the landmark declaration argues that whales and dolphins should be accorded basic rights, such as life, liberty and well-being. According to neurobiologist Dr. Lori Marino, “People are taking it seriously,” which is an important first step in seeing the declaration officially recognized. Personhood status can be ascribed to any being that possesses certain qualities—things like culture, self-awareness,…
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Greenland’s Enhanced Quotas Fail

Yesterday, the IWC voted down Greenland’s latest attempt to increase their so-called aboriginal subsistence quotas, much of which winds up for sale in stores and high-end tourist restaurants. Only 25 delegations voted for the proposal, with 34 against and 3 abstentions. The US continued to baffle observers by voting for the quota and defending Greenland’s “need” for more and more whale meat. Japan’s puppet nations also supported the quota. The big question now: Will Greenland follow the US example and ignore the vote against their quota increase and unilaterally issue new quotas for killing whales? Or maybe they will join Japan and Korea in issuing scientific permits?

Thanks, DJ and Claire!

Once again, we doff our ECO Panama hats to DJ Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute for his efforts to lead and prod the ninety-plus representatives of pro-whale NGOs at this year’s IWC meeting. DJ bends over backwards every year to help coordinate all efforts made for the whales at these meetings, and we all appreciate it. And a special thanks to Claire Bass of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, too, for coordinating NGO speakers during the IWC meeting. These interventions have been uniformly excellent and represent our best foot forward at the IWC. Thanks all!

Sorry Mermaids

Bulletin to all mermaids attending this year’s IWC meeting: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that you do not exist. “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,” NOAA states emphatically. So far, no response from mermaids to this revelation.

And Many Many Thanks to Panama

Many delegations have offered the government and people of Panama their thanks for the hospitality and friendship shown at this week’s International Whaling Commission. ECO would like to add our thanks to our kind and generous hosts. Panama specifically asked to host this year’s IWC meeting in order to showcase Panama’s whale watching opportunities offshore, so we encourage our friends from around the world in delegations and NGOs to consider a whale watch trip or two while staying in this beautiful country. And don’t forget the fabulous rainforest preserves! Gracias!