GERMANY: June 17,
BERLIN - The International Whaling Commission (IWC) holds an
meeting in Berlin from June 16-19. Following are facts about
The IWC, which has about 50 member states, imposed a moratorium on
commercial whaling from 1986 because stocks of many whales like
blue whale were close to extinction.
The IWC allows an exception for subsistence catches of whales for
indigenous peoples in places including Greenland, Siberia and the
U.S. state of Alaska.
Whaling nations argue that stocks of species like the small minke
recovered enough to allow hunts. Opponents say stock estimates are
and that humans should respect the planet's biggest mammals by
Whaling has long stirred strong emotions, from Herman Melville's
"Moby Dick" to Greenpeace campaigns to "Save the
MAIN WHALING NATIONS
NORWAY - Resumed "commercial" hunts of minke whales in
the IWC moratorium. Whalers have so far harpooned more than half a
set for 2003. The meat is eaten as steaks.
Oslo further angered opponents of whaling by resuming whale meat
exports last year, to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, in defiance
of a global trade ban. Planned blubber exports to Japan have been
stalled by poisonous PCB chemicals in the whale fat.
JAPAN - Carries out whaling for "scientific research"
which Tokyo says is allowed by IWC rules even though opponents
call it a cover for commercial
hunts. Japan aims for annual catches of up to 440 minke whales in
the Antarctic and smaller numbers of minkes, Brydes and sperm
whales in the northwest Pacific. The meat ends up in restaurants
and sushi bars.
ICELAND - Wants to resume whaling and plans a "scientific
research" catch of
100 fin whales, 100 minkes and 50 sei whales a year.
The IWC will consider a proposal for a "Berlin
Initiative" to set up a conservation committee in the IWC.
Japan has threatened to walk out, fearing it could make the IWC
focus merely on safeguarding whales and shift from its original
role of regulating catches.
Whalers reckon the IWC is unlikely to approve a resumption of
whaling this year, saying political opposition in nations like the
United States is too strong.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
55TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING
The 55th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission took
place from 16-19
June 2003, in Berlin, Germany. Among the meeting’s accomplishments
was the formalization of the Commission’s role as a conservation body through Resolution 2003-1,
the Berlin Initiative on Strengthening the Conservation Agenda of the IWC. With
votes 25 in favor, 20 against and 1 abstention, it established a Conservation Committee to
prepare and make recommendations on the IWC’s conservation agenda.
The Commission also established an intersessional group to explore ways to
Revised Management Scheme forward. Two proposals for sanctuaries in the
and South Atlantic failed to gain the necessary majorities and were
rejected. The Commission rejected a proposal by Japan for catch limits of 150 minke whales and 150
Bryde’s whales to be taken by coastal community-based whaling. On scientific
permits, it passed a resolution urging countries to terminate or not to commence special permit
catches, and another one asking Japan not to continue its special permit catches of
Antarctic minke whales.
For more information,
and the meeting’s final press