IWC comes to the aid of whales

27 Oct 2016

Press release n°3

66th IWC – International Whaling Commission
Portoroz – Slovenia
24-28 october 2016


3 positive resolutions adopted by vote :

1 – Resolution on Cetaceans and their Contribution to Ecosystem Functioning submitted by Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Uruguay.
At last, whales are no more considered as absolute predators and competitors with fishing activities. The resolution instructs the IWC Scientific Committee to include in its works services rendered by alive and dead cetaceans. This is a satisfaction and a success for Robin des Bois who has been working on this issue since 2010.

2- Resolution on the Minamata Convention propose by Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, Switzerland and Monaco.
This resolution requests from the scientific Committee to present at the next plenary session of the IWC the present state of knowledge of contents among cetacean species of heavy metals, primarily mercury and its components. The resolution requires localization of areas where consuming whale meat could be harmful to human health. Non-lethal methods to gather information of contamination are to be preferred- beaching unfortunately offers many opportunities to scientists to study whale tissues-. The resolution invites all member states to the IWC to collaborate with the World Health Organization on this issue.

The resolution refers to the Minamata Convention that’s objective is to protect human health and the environment from anthropological emissions of mercury and mercury compounds. Almost all the Member states to the IWC have ratified or signed it. Minamata Bay, in Japan, was ravaged from 1932 to 1966 by industrial discharge of mercury. According to the Japanese governmental statistics, the Minimata illness has caused 1784 deaths and 481 permanently disabled because of neurological disorders. At the end of a lengthy judicial battle in 1996, 15,000 people were recognized as victims of various diseases mainly due to consumption of sea products contaminated by mercury.

Japan voted against this resolution. During preliminary debates before the vote, the Japanese delegation claimed that life expectancy was the longest in countries where whale meat is eaten, that is Island, Norway and Japan. Ignoring mercury contamination of Inuit populations in Arctic whose diet specifically depends on whale meat, Japan supported that there is no direct link between human health and consumption of whale meat. Whalers from Taïji (600 km from Minamata) came to support the Japanese delegation ensuring that eating whale meat had no impact on human health. Whales at the top of the marine food chains accumulate and concentrate all persistent pollutants such as PCBs and mercury. They transmit the toxic substances to the calves by nursing. Japan in their blinded defense of whaling brought with it several African countries, Caribbean micro-states, Cambodia and Laos, not to mention its faithful partners, Norway and Iceland.

3- Resolution on Improving the Review Process for Whaling under Special Permit submitted by Australia and New Zealand
The adoption of this resolution will force Japan or eventually other scientific whaling applicant countries to submit proposals to a specific timeframe and to the approval of several bodies within the IWC. This is a multi-stage procedure which will in the future prevent Japan from brutally starting bloody whaling campaigns.



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