Whales Win, Japan Loses at CITES

At a June 6th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in The Hague, Netherlands, Japan and Iceland once again failed to remove the protection status of the world’s whales. CITES’ “Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties” is being held from June 3rd – 15th.

Last week, Japan got trounced at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, when the IWC condemned so-called Japanese research whaling in Antarctica. The CITES decision on June 6, 2007, guarantees that Iceland and Norway will not be selling whale products to Japan anytime soon. All traffic in whale products internationally is illegal and a violation of CITES.

Japan's proposal for CITES to review the status of all great whale species was defeated by a vote of 55 to 28 with 13 abstentions. Japan had hoped that, following this review, CITES would recommend that the protection currently afforded to some whale species should be lifted. 

Japanese delegate Yoshikiyo Kondo proposed a periodic review of all cetaceans listed for protection by CITES. Iceland had proposed that CITES review the current protection for the North Atlantic fin whale with a view to allowing international trade in the animals which it began hunting commercially last year.

A counter proposal from Australia that no review of any great whale, including the fin whale, should occur while the IWC's commercial whaling ban is in place, was adopted with 60 votes for, 23 against, and 13 abstentions. 

Japan and Iceland's proposals, had they been accepted, would have led to the immediate resumption of international commercial trade in whale products for the first time in more than 20 years.



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