Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Greenpeace anti-whaling protesters arrested at IWC meeting

Greenpeace activists have been arrested by St Kitts (the Carribean island where the IWC has been meeting) police while conducting a peaceful protest. This from an ABC online news report:

The [ten] Greenpeace protesters had been placing about 1,000 cardboard whale tails on a beach outside the meeting.

The cut-outs represent the number of whales that will be killed under Japan's "scientific whaling program".

The police were armed with batons, some with M-16 automatic guns, and tear-gas grenade launchers! Talk about overkill!

Before he was arrested, [Greenpeace spokesperson] Mike Townsley pointed out to the police the IWC meeting had explicitly given its support to peaceful protests over whale hunts.

"What could be more peaceful than 1,000 cardboard whale tails?" he said.

There have also been calls from some environmental groups for a consumer boycott of products of whaling countries. Personally, I support a boycott of products by companies that profit from whaling, but I'm not sure about this tactic. I understand why some would call for a wider ban when you consider the big resources these countries' governments put in to winning their arguments in the IWC, so perhaps it is worth considering holding the governments and nations accountable.

However, we shouldn't just focus on Japan's products. Norway has defied the morotorium for many years, and Iceland is one of the big players in the pro-whaling bloc. So, no more Norwegian smoked salmon and sardines? Boycott Björk, anyone? This is where it could get ridiculous. Let's focus on targeted boycotts of companies or industries involved: fisheries, shipping, processed foods. I would welcome suggestions and links to resources for this.

You can listen to an mp3 of an ABC radio report about the call for a ban. Mp3 link.

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3 Comments:

At June 21, 2006 4:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following is from today's www.crikey.com.au

"How to move the whaling debate forward
Trevor Wilson of the ANU's Australia-Japan Research Centre and former Minister of Tokyo's Australian Embassy writes:

Recently Japan and Australia sparred at the annual International Whaling Commission meeting. And it won't be the last time. The highly unbalanced approach many countries adopt to whaling mean that deep divisions within the IWC are likely to be repeated, and could get worse.
In different ways, Australia and Japan share the blame for this. In each country, special interest groups dominate policy debate and distort measured handling of issues – the whaling bureaucrats in Japan and the wailing conservationists in Australia. In the meantime, insufficient effort is invested in understanding opposing points of view, and half-hearted attempts made at cooperation instead of confrontation. In both countries, the media have often not helped with narrow, opportunistic reporting, and by swallowing propaganda – from pro-whaling official sources in Japan and from the conservation movement in Australia.

In Australia, the debate is too politicised, is often emotional rather than objective, and tends to “scapegoat” Japan as if it were the only pro-whaling IWC nation. In Japan, whaling falsely became a matter of national pride and cultural sensitivity, but conservation arguments received little attention, and Japan's position was neither politically accountable nor defensible public policy. So far, despite mutual recriminations, Australia-Japan relations have not otherwise been damaged, but will this always be so? Already some Australians are calling for boycotts of Japanese goods, which would be disastrous. For Japan, Australia is only one of its opponents on whaling.

Whales are neither economically nor ecologically so important that they should provoke such vituperation and confrontation. Whale products are no longer needed anywhere and killing whales so cruelly just cannot be justified. Scientists, academics and journalists should disclose the facts about whaling more honestly and fully than before. Greater involvement by the general public and young people could help — through whale tourism, personal interaction, and increased exchanges of experts, workers in whaling-related industries, and journalists.

International institutions should not be abused or diverted from their purposes just because members cannot agree on sensible solutions. But Australia should not under-estimate Japan's resolve on whaling which could destroy the IWC. Although the IWC is an imperfect mechanism, this would be a retrograde step".

 
At June 21, 2006 4:49 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Don't you just love it when people argue against 'emotional' arguments and 'politicised' campaigning, as if somehow the cold hard facts will set us free! The fact is the Japan claims its whaling activities are 'science'. The fact is, whaling is ugly, painful and unnecessary. Personally, I think it demeans us all. Emotional enough? How is this for hard facts that packs an emotional punch:

"…How do modern-day whalers make their kills?

With explosive grenade harpoons. Commercial hunters in Norway (an IWC member country that openly flouts the IWC ban) catch minke whales from small fishing boats with harpoon cannons mounted on the bows. Each harpoon comes loaded with explosives that go off once they've penetrated about a foot into the flesh of the whale. The internal blast is supposed to cause enough brain damage to kill or knock out the whale within a few seconds."

That's from Slate..

And notice that that Slate piece talks about the Norwegian whalers - I certainly don't think we should let them off the hook, or buy into any remnant Aussie anti-Japanese sentiments that are being garnered for a boycott of Japanese goods.

Boycott whalers, not cultures.

 
At June 27, 2006 9:48 pm, Anonymous david@tokyo said...

Well, a "peaceful" protest, it may have been, but they broke the law, and they even stated themselves that they knew they probably would be.

Is bailing Greenpeace activists out of jail what people donate $25 to Greenpeace for?

In other news, IWC Scientists acknowledged that the humpback population in the Antarctic grew by 4 times from it's initial survey more than 2 decades ago to a size estimated at 41,800 recently. And the growth is continuing. 50,000 humpbacks two years from now at current growth rates.
:-)

 

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