Several newspaper are reporting that the IWC is planning to overturn the current ban on commercial whaling, despite the Rudd governments strong opposition:
IWC flags compromise on commercial whaling
By environment reporter Sarah Clarke
Posted 5 hours 28 minutes ago
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has released a compromise plan that could overturn a 28-year ban on commercial whaling.
The whaling body has been involved in negotiations to try to break an ongoing deadlock.
A small group of IWC nations, including Australia, have spent the past two years negotiating a way forward for the troubled IWC.
The group has released draft recommendations which include bringing scientific whaling under the commission’s watch, reducing catches from current levels, establishing caps on whale takes over a 10-year period, and improving the animal welfare aspects of whaling.
Japan currently conducts its scientific whaling through a loophole in the IWC’s rules.
Over the past five years it has killed up to 1,900 whales in the Southern Ocean as part of its research program.
The IWC says its plan would reduce the catch and bring it under a tighter watch.
COMMERCIAL whaling would be reintroduced on a limited basis and Japan would be able to continue hunting in the Antarctic, under a proposal released today by International Whaling Commission chairman Cristian Maquieira.
The Maquieira proposal cuts across Kevin Rudd’s demand for Japan to end its Southern Ocean scientific whaling program by November, before the scheduled start of the next summer hunt.
Mr Rudd has threatened Japan with a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice if it does not accept his ultimatum.
Greenpeace International today described the Maquieira plan as a “disaster” for whale conservation, “send(ing) shock waves through international ocean conservation efforts, making it vastly more difficult to protect other rapidly declining species such as tuna and sharks”.
“The proposal rewards Japan for decades of reprehensible behaviour at the IWC and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” said John Frizell, head of the Greenpeace whales campaign.
Canberra is expected to reject Mr Maquieira’s plan, aimed at securing the future of an IWC at risk of collapse over Japanese so-called scientific whaling and the refusal of several other members to honour the 24-year-old international moratorium on commercial whaling.
Mr Rudd and embattled Environment Minister Peter Garrett are expected to unveil an alternative Australian proposal to the IWC as early as today.
The Maquieira proposal, developed but not endorsed by a “support group” of 12 countries including Australia and Japan, calls for suspending scientific whaling, the means by which Japan gets around the 24-year-old IWC ban on commercial whaling, this summer with quotas to catch up to 990 Southern Ocean whales.
Japan and the other IWC member countries that currently kill whales, however, would receive quotas for the next 10 years, set within sustainable levels for each hunted species.
The support group has not established what quotas would apply in the Antarctic, where only the Japan hunts, but has left the way open for targeted species to include the iconic humpback and still at-risk fin whales, as well as the numerous minkes that make up the overwhelming bulk of the Japanese fleet’s catch.
In effect, this is a return to limited commercial whaling, although only open to countries like Japan, Norway and Iceland that by one means or another have flouted the whaling moratorium.
The proposal, part of a wide-ranging suite of reforms to the IWC’s moribund rules and procedures, would operate until the end of 2010.
It goes early next month to an IWC working group meeting in Florida and, if approved, from there to the commission’s annual meeting where, if approved, it would become the operating regime for governing both whaling and whale conservation activities.