The International Whaling Commission (IWC) continues to be one of the most contentious international Conventions of the Parties around. While countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Monaco, France, Italy, the USA and the United Kingdom promote survival of the species, the agenda of it’s Asian contingency focuses on loose ocean governance and industrial fishing success based on their relatively easy pooling of the votes (1) of African, Caribbean and other developing countries.
At its outset in the mid 1940’s the IWC was composed of mainstream whaling interests who played an important role in the decimation of the world’s whale nations. It was public outcry that would be responsible for saving these creatures and large tracts of ocean life designated as sanctuaries in the 80’s and 90’s. But international high finance is a cut throat business and the current Asian objective is not conservation, it is to revoke or weaken these agreements.
Japan suggests that the whales are responsible for the collapse of global fish stocks and accordingly should be culled. To-day science tends to differ, reporting that over fishing by the North through the decades is the more likely culprit. Japan’s “Whales eat Fish” campaign designed to hoodwink the public can no longer be taken seriously. (2)
Japan’s high sea fishing industry and its ramification are probably the most powerful in the world. Their fleets amongst the most active and demanding at a time when the international community proposes a total revision of stock management, a regional approach and limitation of all fishing activities. High sea fleets could plan to bring stocks to excruciatingly low levels, ensuring larger benefits in the remaining “catch” years and then move on to other options, which would include jelly fish and sea cucumbers.
A decline in the numbers of top oceanic predators would be responsible for the crash of fish stocks far beyond that imagined. Certain shark and dolphin species could become extinct within a decade. (3).
African nations and Small Island states from the East Caribbean, have little to gain nationally from such an alliance according to the ECCEA-SCPW 2002 “Socio economic political analysis on Japanese investments in fisheries in the small island of the East Caribbean”(4).
The report was for a time food for thought for the Japanese parliament, who ultimately drafted criteria for Aid in developing countries – criteria designed to reduce corruption. However, their IWC country dialogue remains on a one on one basis (5, behind closed doors prior to the yearly decision making plenaries, creating a situation that will in time irremediably be condemned or condoned. On this ultimate decision, to be made by the international community, depends the future of all wild life when time is running out.
(1) ASMS OceanCare: “Legal limits for exercising power by states on the voting behavior of other states within international organizations”, www.oceancare.org
(2) ECCEA, 3mF, ProWildlife: “Running out of Fish…Who is responsible for the plundering of the oceans?” www.eccea.org
(3) In May 2003, the authoritative scientific journal “Nature” published a report written by leading ocean authorities, Professors Myers and Worm. Myers and Worm founded their report on 55 years of databasing and issued a strong warning as to the alarming level of global biological destruction, with a particular emphasis on declines in the numbers of top oceanic predators, and that the crash of fish stocks was far beyond that imagined. Certain shark and dolphin species they said were unlikely to survive another decade. They called for total revision of stock management and limitation of all fishing activities. They add that certain of the world’s major high sea fleets could plan to bring stocks to excruciatingly low levels, ensuring larger benefits in the remaining “catch” years and then move on to other options
(4) ECCEA – SCPW: Socio Economic Political Analysis of the Japanese Aid to the Fishing Industry of Small Island States of the East Caribbean; in its conclusion appeals to all Northern countries to take steps to assist the South appropriately and without tied conditions.
(5) ASMS OceanCare: “Vote buying in International Fora”