Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Now this is a whale of a branch stack

"For the first time since the 1970s, the IWC would be under the control of the whalers," says Vassily Papastavrou, a marine biologist with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The BBC News website reports that the pro-whaling nations are set for a majority on the International Whaling Commission when it meets this year. They report that:
A pro-whaling majority could lead to the scrapping of conservation and welfare programmes, though not a return to full-scale commercial whaling.

…a simple majority would be enough to end IWC work on issues which Japan believes to be outside its remit, such as welfare and killing methods, whale-watching and anything concerning small cetaceans such as dolphins.
Basically, whaling nations have been lobbying their 'mates' to join the IWC in order to get the numbers in their favour. Some countries, such as the Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Cambodia, joined at Japan's behest. Some of these are what can only be called 'client states'. There have been past reports that a number of South Pacific island nations have voted in favour of Japan's whaling stance on the IWC because they are heavily reliant on Japan's investment and aid money. This, however, is taking branch stacking a little too far...

This reminds me that whaling is an issue all year round, and not just at hunting season, and that the campaign should continue…

[Thanks to David for the tip.]

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At June 13, 2006 12:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, I've been watching this story closely too and it's really gut-wrenching to see it unfold. I was going to elaborate more on that here in your comments area, but it turned into a fairly long statement; so I've included it on my blog instead.

Keep up the good work! :)

At June 13, 2006 4:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark and Mike

Thank you both for your contributions. I am amazed at the continuing lack of media attention given to this issue in Australia this year. Its as if we can't handle an energy debate and a whaling debate at the same time! Will the proposed Greenpeace add be too little too late?



At June 13, 2006 5:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That must be the same David who (I think) misunderstood my entry and though I was suggesting that Australia threaten the island nations with economic sanctions and/or other threats.

I'm glad I was nice - looks like he's on our side :)

I think I'd better clarify my entry too...

At June 13, 2006 5:54 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Hmmm. Now this little debate is spreading over two (or more?) blogs. Cool! I wonder if the 'graphic' Greenpeace ad would really get much flack, or even make an impact – these days we are so inundated with gore to push through everything from public health messages (foot amputations to convince us of the evils of smoking) to public safety campaigns (car carnage scenes to curb speeding here in Victoria) and now to animal butchering to elicit public outrage over whaling.

Then again, those interested and following the story may have already seen the photos and read the graphic descriptions of the last whale hunt on the Greenpece Southern Oceans campaign's crew blog. I'd mentioned that blog in previous posts, but it's worth returning as it looks like they've kept blogging as the campaign continues.

At June 13, 2006 5:59 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Just thought of a cool agit-prop idea: taking a leaf (yeah, yeah) from the anti-tobacco campaign book (who use graphic smoking-illness images on cigarette packs), people could put stickers of mutilated whales on cans of tuna on supermarkets shelves under brands produced by whaling profiteers. Anyone with photoshop and some time on their hands?

At June 13, 2006 7:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again

Just for the record, I am not the David that commented on Mike Bogles Blog, and do not agree with that other David. It is clear that most of the new entrants will only attend as part of a classic vote stack.


At June 13, 2006 7:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, ain't it the truth. Seems like nothing short of self-immolation (setting yourself on fire - and yes I had to look it up in the dictionary) will get the public's attention these days. How I wish it weren't so.

I hope they wait until later at night before broadcasting this though - I don't think it's something kids should see. Something toned down perhaps, so as to inspire inquiry, conversation and education of the young one's, but not something so barbarous as butchering a whale.

I'm afraid I'm not the Photoshop expert in the family, that's my wife's territory. Though I'll bring it up with her.

David: sorry for the mistaken identity. I'm glad you're here. Thanks for providing the link to the article. I've also found an online version on Greenpeace's Website.

At June 15, 2006 8:00 pm, Anonymous david@tokyo said...

This is the other David :-)

I have posted a comment on mike's blog about what "conservation" means to me, which you all might like to consider.

As for vote buying allegations, that's pretty serious. You are accusing Japan of buying votes. And you are accusing a whole bunch of nations of selling them. That's a whole lot of corruption, apparently. And those allegations are being levelled at sovereign nations.

Some nations accused of selling their souls to the Japanese, in fact, have whaling activities themselves. One of the Caribbean nations actually has a humpback catch quota allocated to it. Yet, this nation is accused of taking a bribe for a vote for whaling. Given that this nation's own people are whaling, I think it's clear that they'd want to vote in their interests, even if they weren't receiving Japanese aid. Small cetaceans, not under IWC management, are also harvested for food in the region.

The Solomon Islands recently announced that they would abstain on a certain vote because they don't want to upset either Australia or Japan by voting one way or the other. Ideally, they should be able to vote for what they believe in themselves, without worrying about foreign political reaction. A secret ballot system is the only way in which the Solomons could vote in the manner in which they, as a sovereign nation, wish to.

I'm not denying that Japan use it's ODA packages as a foreign policy tool, but I argue that it's going too far to call this plain bribery. The nations which Japan has recruited are by and large island nations or nations with interests in fisheries development. Japan uses the ODA to develop friendly relations. Again, if you want to argue this point, you have to somehow explain away cases such as that of the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent, which indeed receives ODA aid, but also has people who eat cetaceans.

Another interesting thing to consider is that 7 landlocked European nations are IWC members. The first of these nations (Switzerland) was recruited way back in 1980. Two more landlocked European nations were added in subsequent years. It wasn't until 2002 that landlocked Mongolia joined the IWC and first voted with Japan.

The IWC is a dirty political game - no doubt about it - but both sides give it as good as they get it, and I think that needs to be recognised.

At June 16, 2006 11:48 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Hi David@Tokyo. I normally choose my words very carefully, which is why my discussion of this issue focussed on the cultivation of economic, political and aid dependency in the South Pacific. I haven't actually used the terms 'vote buying' or 'selling souls' vis-a-vis Japan. If readers are confused, the discussion has straddled this and Mike Bogle's blog, which may explain why it appears that you're only getting half the conversation. For the record, the comments I made about Pacific Islands, Japanese interests and vote stacking in the IWC are here.

Where you make the argument about respecting the rights of sovereign nations such as the Solomons, I would argue for a recognition that environmental and wildlife protection issues are cross-national - our world is more than the states that exist in it.

Issues of the cultivation economic and political dependency in South Pacific islands but states such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand are complex, and deserve a seperate posting.

On the machinations of the IWC and the upcoming meeting in the Carribean, I recommend this excellent news interview on the ABC Radion National Breakfast show from this morning. The podcast is here.

At June 17, 2006 8:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi "other" David

I am very much enjoying the debate and welcome another perspective. I am not sure which of the three blogs to comment on at this stage - but for me the debate began here so here we go.

I will start with the "serious" allegations of vote buying. Lets not mince words - of course Japan is vote buying. As you have shown yourself, Japanese whalers consider that "the IWC is a dirty political game". After all, with many species on the edge of extinction in the 1970s, Japan still did not join until the USA gave it access to some fishing grounds as an "incentive" (and later reneged on the deal!)

Perhaps I will need to say more on this when Japan decides if it is going to stay with the IWC.

I also enjoyed the comments (on one of the blogs) regarding "conservation". Please note that Australia is putting whales to very strong economic use - it just happens that this sustainable use is in the form of well regulated tourism.

The Japanese proposal, however, appears to be to go out and "develop" a market for whale meat. I say develop, as the market just isn't there right now, with about half the whale meat stocks from Japan's last hunt (for pretend science) still frozen or sold as pet food.

I do not see the artificial creation of a marine mammal market as conservation - particularly when you look at our poor record of managing our "stocks" for such markets in the past.

David (blogless!!!)


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