WHALING: Iceland May Resume Hunts; Japan, Norway Blast Commission 
Thu, 13 Feb 2003 20:43:47

Iceland joined whaling nations Japan and Norway yesterday for a 
special meeting in Tokyo, where it announced it may resume hunting 
whales for scientific research under a special provision of the 
International Whaling Commission. 
Commercial whaling has been banned by the IWC since 1986, but limited 
hunting for research is allowed with a permit. Iceland, which was 
readmitted to the IWC in October after a 10-year absence, stopped its 
research whaling program in 1989. Japan is the only other nation 
with IWC approval for scientific hunts, but critics say it is a 
veiled commercial enterprise because the whale meat ends up on the 
market. Japan is researching its claim that whale populations have 
recovered from overfishing (Kenji Hall, Associated 
Press/Environmental News Network, Feb. 13). 
Icelandic whaling commissioner Stefan Asmundsson said Iceland's 
fishing industry, on which the country is "enormously dependent," 
wants to learn more about the diets of whales. 
"You can't simply ask a whale to fill out a questionnaire," said 
Asmundsson. "You have to look into its stomach." 
Iceland has said it wants to resume commercial hunting by 2006. 
Australia, which fiercely opposes commercial whaling, protested 
Iceland's readmission to the IWC, saying Iceland's position 
is "incompatible" with the purpose of the IWC convention (Shane 
Green, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 13). 
The 49-member IWC has been deadlocked over whether to allow limited 
commercial hunting. The subject derailed last year's meeting, with 
Japan and Norway being the most vocal proponents of whaling, and 
could have the same effect at this year's meeting in Berlin in June. 
Norwegian whaling commissioner Odd Gunnar Skagestad blasted the IWC 
yesterday, saying it had "lost so much relevance and so much 
credibility that it certainly gives the impression that it is on its 
last legs." Japanese Fisheries Agency official Joji Morishita called 
the IWC dysfunctional (Hall, AP/ENN). 
UN Wire, 13Feb03