This was originally posted on the WDCS US blog, but we thought that you would be interested in the thoughts of WDCS's Kate O'Connell.
The US Embassy in Oslo, Norway has now joined the ranks of other US embassies in whaling nations who have had cables leaked about the US policy, giving an even clearer picture of just how unmoving the whaling nations have been when it came to discussions on developing a compromise at the IWCIn a 12 December 2009 cable entitled "Norway Uncompromising on Whale Catch Limits" the embassy in Oslo spoke of a formal diplomatic protest made by the US to the Norwegian government in advance of President Obama's visit to Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, and that "The Ambassador urged the GON [government of Norway] to show flexibility on catch limits to enable a compromise reform of the International Whaling Commission."
Yet despite the fact that Norway was said to be uncompromising on its whaling quotas, the US went on to invite Norway to participate in the compromise discussions on whaling that it had been trying to move through the IWC, that would have allowed for commercial whaling to continue.
What is most frustrating about this cable is that it comes only months after an in-depth analysis of the Norwegian whaling industry by the Embassy in Oslo indicated that the whaling industry in Norway was facing massive problems. Comments in the analysis such as "Today Norwegian whaling struggles ….with demand for the product and questions of the industry´s viability" and "With whale meat filling only a niche market domestically, most objective observers today would assess the demand for whale meat in Norway as marginal at best" leave little room for doubt that the US knew that whaling in Norway was on its way out.
So why did the US opt to throw the whaling nations a life-line of support in the form of a deal that would have accepted commercial whaling at just the time when a "hold strong" stand in support of the IWC ban on commercial whaling could have made a real difference? Maybe it’s time for President Obama to strengthen the moratorium, not undermine it. The US public certainly expects that he will.