Whales are still out of sorts

25 Jun 2010

Robin des Bois remains very sceptical about the evolution of the compromise on research at the heart of the IWC. A number of delegations and NGOs have made it their priority and deplored that in the convention’s actual state Japan, Iceland and Norway remain out of its’ control. Robin des Bois prefers this situation to that of the International Whaling Commission being controlled by Japan, Iceland and Norway.

Robin des Bois hopes that France and other European Nations unite with Australia when they bring their claim to the International court of Justice in The Hague, aiming at banning scientific whaling carried out by Japan in the Austral Ocean. In this way the Japanese whaling fleets’ next campaign in the Antarctic will be increasingly contested.

Those within the ranks of countries that take a cautious stance concerning the management of whales should step into line. The United States is more and more ambiguous, in the room of the lost compromise. On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Union is under Norway’s bad influence and it is hindered by Denmark, a ferocious hunter of Globicephalas. Iceland’s right to an eventual accession to the European Union should be subject to their renouncement of whaling.

The distribution criteria for quotas of pseudo indigenous subsistence hunting should be loyal, stable and verified. Denmark’s arguments, in the name of Greenland, are opportunistic: “the use of local whale meat reduces our CO2 emissions and therefore falls under a framework of sustainable development”. Indigenous hunting for subsistence, ex “aboriginal hunting” should directly relate to cultural and nutritional needs. Selling expensive whale meat in upper-class restaurants is hunting for commercial ends. By wrangling, Denmark obtained on Greenland’s behalf a quota of nine humpback whales over a period of three years for indigenous subsistence hunting. In return, the Inuit community of Greenland saw their quota of fin whales diminish to 9 individuals. This bargain did not satisfy countries in the Caribbean and South American regions because humpback whales, according to their migration, are either in the North Atlantic or in the Tropics.

The saturation of whale meat by micro chemical pollution is impressive and logical as these mammals are at the top of the marine food chains. Since 1998, whaling countries have been asked to provide the IWC with current information on the level of pollution in whales and on possible health effects caused by the consumption of whale meat; however, whaling countries remain discreet on this subject. Nevertheless, they cannot be beaten when it comes to figures on the level of proteins, higher than that of pork or chicken meat and on the level of cholesterol less than half of beef meat. Efforts on a national and international level should be carried out to reduce all pollution sources, radioactive or chemical which accumulate in the ocean.

Finally, it must be ensured that the Scientific Committee’s new working group for the protection of whales from oil spills in the Arctic does actually take off. It would be advisable that the French based CEDRE (Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution) participates in this committee.

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