It seems the outgoing IWC Chairman and President Bush appointee to lead the USA's defense of its whaling interests, sorry whales, - Dr William Hogarth, cannot resist having once last go at trying to get a resumption of commercial whaling.
In speaking to the BBC’s Richard Black at the end of the IWC meeting in Portugal he is quoted as saying;
"I'll probably get in trouble for making this statement, but I am probably convinced right now that there would be less whales killed if we didn't have the commercial moratorium," he told BBC News immediately after the meeting ended.
His argument is that Japan's hunts, conducted under a clause in the whaling convention that gives any country the right to hunt as many whales as it wants for scientific research, are essentially unregulated.
His words of course serve to encourage the existing whalers who are hanging on by their fingertips, and has been widely reported in Iceland, for example, as a reason to keep going with their diminishing industrial whaling. By the way Iceland adds, whilst it agrees that the moratorium should fall its never going to agree to Dr. Hogarth’s counter points of no trade, goodness no.
Despite what Dr Hogarth says, the moratorium has meant that whales have been given a chance. The whaling industry has been held at bay, with Japanese commercial companies giving in the towel and handing it all over to the government to run and the one coastal whaling company left only able to do so because of subsidies and ‘scientific whaling’ contracts - whilst they have had to resort to selling whale meat for pet food to make ends meet.
Norway has had a disastrous year, having to end its hunt because of a lack of demand, and Iceland's Hvalur and its associated companies are loosing fish market share in Europe as I write. And, for the first time the international community is beginning to wake up to the fact that not every claim in the name of an Inuit cause for more whales is as legitimate as another.
No, I think the moratorium has been a good thing and it will mean an eventual end to this practice. It's time for the IWC to turn to those peoples that have at least a legitimate claim for hunting whales, and the USA and others need be able to tell the difference between these claims. Its time the IWC worked out what it means when it says its supports Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW). A few definitions might be a good start.
Leadership in such a fora as the IWC does not mean giving into everyone, it means deciding what is right for the 21st Century and fighting for those principles. So maybe its time for the moratorium to go, but only to be replaced a full ban on commercial whaling once and for all - and maybe its time for the USA to take up that challenge, not quietly but openly and with conviction.
There was a passing of the torch at the IWC this year in the US delegation. Now the new guard has to shake off the past few years and rise to the challenge of helping to end commercial once and for all
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