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Japan quits global whaling regulatory body

Japan yesterday announced that it is quitting the International Whaling Commission, a global whaling regulatory body founded shortly after World War II to regulate commercial whaling that has instead in recent years attempted to ban all commercial whaling, except for favored native tribes in Russia and the Arctic.

The article’s last few paragraphs provide the real political background to this move by Japan:

An IWC-Japan divorce is the culmination of a wide ideological divide at the commission between ardent anti-whaling nations and countries seeking recognition of limited commercial whaling activities as legitimate. The anti-whaling forces have the upper hand, even though IWC’s expansion has seen more pro-whaling countries joining in recent years.

At the Brazil gathering, Japan had attempted to nudge the IWC toward reforms that would have potentially paved the way for a resumption of commercial whaling. The IWC was initially established to regulate whaling but has enforced an outright moratorium on commercial whaling operations since the 1980s in a desperate bid to prevent the extinction of several whale species. Many whale species have since recovered to a degree, but a few are still considered endangered.

Japan’s reform push was easily voted down. Instead, a majority of IWC members voted to have the commission turn its back on commercial whaling for good. That successful resolution also condemned Japan’s scientific whaling practices, widely regarded as a clandestine commercial operation as Japan’s whaling fleet takes hundreds of whales each year, with the meat ending up in grocery stores and restaurants.

IWC also approved subsistence whale hunts for Arctic aboriginal communities.

The large Japanese delegation at Brazil didn’t hide its frustration. The government accuses IWC members of hypocrisy for allowing culture exemptions from the moratorium for Alaskan and Russian native groups, but not for Japan and Scandinavian whaling cultures.

In other words, this commission has become increasingly political. Rather than focusing on protecting whale populations while allowing whaling by all parties, it has decided to pick and choose who can whale, and has decided to ban Japan while giving others the right to whale.

This political bias is not much different than what was seen at the Paris climate accords. Those agreements put odious restrictions on U.S. commercial activity, while putting no restrictions on China and others. It was this political bias, totally divorced from any sincere effort to reduce CO2 emissions, that prompted Trump to exit that agreement.

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  • Kyle

    Is whale meat really that good? Why not make whaling farms, you could have tours, it would be like Sea World were a BBQ place.

  • Chris Lopes

    I think the underlying logic is that whales are sentient beings who should not be hunted at all. Obviously when they are hunted by native tribes they become less sentient because of some native magic or something. I’m a little fuzzy on the details of “green” religion, so if that doesn’t make sense, you know why.

  • pzatchok

    I do not necessarily agree with japans whaling industry. Just to many harvested, but I do not agree with the IWC either.

  • jburn

    Curiously, very few Japanese people actually eat whale meat. The practice of “scientific harvest” in Antarctic marine reserves (whale nurseries) is disgusting — little different than elephants slaughtered for their ivory tusks on African game reserves.

  • Chris Lopes

    Disgusting or not, if it’s bad for the Japanese to do it, it’s bad for the native tribes to do it. That’s the point. The IWC has one set of rules for industrialized nations and one for primitive cultures. Either killing whales is bad or it isn’t. They should make up their mind.

  • jburn

    One is commercial with enormous factory ships, the native harvest is not. The distinction is clear, which is why the Japanese attempted to use “research” as a cover story for commercial activities. Now they have abandoned this ruse and are simply calling it commercial whaling. Native tribes have never harvested whales from the antarctic.

  • jburn: You are assuming too much honesty from the native tribes, especially in Russia. In the end they will use their special status as a tool for taking advantage. The Japanese are right. Treat everyone the same, or go to hell.

  • FC

    Six decades ago Arthur C. Clarke wrote this very debate into a cracking good novel, “The Deep Range.” The more things change…

  • Wodun

    I wish Japan would treat whales like cattle and ride herd on them like cowboys looking out for them and harvesting a few while keeping the herd strong.

  • BSJ

    Bob, can you please site your evidence that Russian natives harvest whales for commercial use?

  • BSJ: My reference is the article itself, which notes the harvesting of whales by Russian natives. Knowing how these things always develop, I simply noted my expectation that those given special rights will eventually take advantage of them. The Russian culture is especially noted for this. They bargain hard, and generally honor any agreement made to the letter. But they also take full advantage of anything in any agreement that can be used to their advantage.

  • pzatchok

    How about we reconfigure the IWC?

    Make it more like the way North America handles its large animal herds. Sell tags. The sales go to financing the “Whale Rangers”.
    That way anyone in the world can buy a tag and harvest one whale of that tags species.
    The tag holder must be the one firing or throwing the harpoon.
    Native tribes can buy a tag and sell the whale to finance the tribe. Or eat the thing. I don’t care.
    Set hunting dates for the animals also.
    After that date you get back half the price of any unused tags. Since they will be prohibitively expensive.

    Violations could and should include huge fines and possible loss of hunting equipment including boats and ships.

    To make more tags available make sure they get a good population count. or find a way to increase the population.

  • Max

    The commercial fishing done by the Japanese using large commercial boats, which harvest/processes dozens of whales on board, freezing them in the hold, dumping the unusable parts back into the ocean for the sharks. modern technology with sonar allows them to find, track, and kill entire pods.
    When I lived in Emmonik, in the Yukon delta below Nome Alaska, The Japanese were the owners of all of the fishing rights and fish canneries. All the salmon caught went to feed Japan’s population.
    There are no whales in the Yukon Delta, but the Japanese often traded whale meat for other things. (They would tell us that whale is served for school lunch in Japan)

    Here is a article about a village at the north western tip of Alaska where my just retired sister has taught school for a few years.
    Ignore the part about climate change, none of the Eskimos in my family has seen any difference that is unusual. The community is large and is allowed to take two of the 60 +/- whales per year.
    They’re not always successful.
    The meat is shared with everyone to make it through the winter. There are no roads, all food comes by plane or boat except for winter when the sea freezes over.
    My sister found it cheaper to order fresh produce from and have it flown in rather than to buy it locally.

    The Eskimos in Russia, Alaska, Canada are one people with a common language for the most part (they are not a tribe because they are not Indians and they do not live on reservations)
    When they hunt whales, it’s done from traditional canoes with harpoons thrown by hand. Because of the extreme danger involved, the harpoons now have an explosive charge to be humane for the whale, and to keep a wounded whale from diving deep or swimming under the ice where they cannot recover it. For safety reasons they always have a motorized boat nearby with emergency responders, but they are not allowed to participate in the hunt.
    They are used to bring the catch back depending on how far they are off shore. It is very important not to lose the catch.
    Their website;
    Heavy on the details including Russia’s involvement and rules.

    In Japan, you can buy whale meat in restaurants. You cannot in America.

    But then, we have our own problems here at home.
    I think it was Nancy Pelosi who lowered the minimum wage in American Samoa so she can sell Starfish Tuna at a higher profit, forcing school lunch in government schools to buy only her tuna fish.

  • BSJ

    So without evidence you just assume everyone cheats. How Trumpian of you. Just saying stuff makes it true.

    Some facts for you.
    Less than 100 Bowheads a year, for all native groups combined, can’t be compared to Japan’s desire for industrial scale harvesting.

  • wayne

    The Department of Commerce is yet another alphabet agency we could do without.
    Created in 1903 as part of the progressive movement. (Why buy into their narrative?)

  • pzatchok

    Yes always assume everyone cheats. How many saints walk among us?

    Always assume everyone is greedy. Its what drives the economies of the world.

    Always assume everyone is self centered. Its evident in everything someone does.

    That way your pleasantly surprised when you find they are not and not at all surprised when you find they are.

    Trust but verify.

  • BSJ: I don’t know how old you are or what your life experience is, but I have been around a long time, and from what I have seen, when you give certain people special privileges, no matter who they are, those special privileges eventually get abused.

    Equal treatment before the law is one of the hallmarks of civilization. We are unfortunately abandoning it, and the consequences will not be good. It is for this reason more than any other I side with the Japanese.

    I also like pzatchok’s suggestion to treat whale hunting the same way we do hunting licensing in the U.S. Our goal should be to find a way to treat all those who wish to hunt whales an equal opportunity to do so. The IWC is clearly not aimed at doing so.

  • wayne

    Jordan Peterson –
    “Deep Knowledge Of Evil Will Straighten You Out”

  • Andrew _W

    I’m happy to see different rules for artisanal whaling and commercial whaling just as I’m happy to see different rules for recreational fishing and commercial fishing. As long as the rules are enforced, I’ve seen no evidence that there’s been commercialization of the current exemptions.

  • Andrew _W

    It’s been claimed that Japanese commercial whaling isn’t profitable, that it’s taxpayer subsidised and only continues for political reasons – in other words the politics of the whaling industry in Japan are a lot like the politics of the space industry in the US.

  • Andrew _W

    I should have daid ‘old space’ in the US.

  • wodun

    @ Max

    IMO, it is stupid to force Eskimos to hunt using old methods. If they choose to do so, is one thing, but forcing them is another. I also think it’s stupid that in certain forests, forestry can’t be done with any machinery, even a chainsaw! A lot of the regulations that “progressives” force on us are really regressive.

    @ pzatchok

    I like the idea of tags but I like my idea of owning a herd of whales even better. Is there some law against owning a herd of whales? We could combine the two ideas. Have someone create their own herds of whales and then sell tags for harvesting.

    Ownership and harvesting for $$ is counter intuitive from the POV of preservation but it has shown merit in both preserving big game animals in places like Africa and also in sustaining wild fish populations in the aquarium industry. It turns out that when you pay locals for a continuous supply of fish, they take efforts to not destroy habitat or over harvest. Of course, many animal rights people and environmentalists are against these types of programs and I am quite certain that many in the aquarium industry who support it for themselves don’t support it for big game.

  • Col Beausabre

    “How Trumpian of you”

    Where I come from that’s the highest of complements.

  • wayne

    Col Beausabre–
    Good stuff.

    –I’m one of those deplorable morons who resides in fly-over country, and I just can’t seem to appreciate how much the millionaire Nancy Pelosi (with the non-union Hotel and Winery) is ‘watching out for my interests,’ with her progressive totalitarianism.
    (Tangentially– I don’t care if the border with Mexico is closed permanently and forever. And I’m waayyy past the point where I want every single illegal alien (all 30 million of them) physically removed from the Country, by any means necessary & sufficient, and if that involves rail-cars, I don’t much care.)

  • pzatchok

    North American Hunter have been conservationists for over 100 years.

    The other industrialized fishing I don’t like is shark fishing. I eat shark and knowing there are poachers out there willing to hunt and kill them JUST for their fins is sick and a HUGE waste of food.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “North American Hunter have been conservationists for over 100 years.

    Not just conservationists but also the best, most effective environmentalists. Those who are usually seen as environmentalists have been hijacked in order to accomplish other ends:

    In order to de-develop the United States, the Left is using phony environmental crises to demonize capitalism and liberty, and purposefully withhold America’s vast natural resources-and the Obama Administration is piloting the plan

    Meanwhile, the EPA imposes draconian rules and regulations that stifle the U.S.

    Yet the EPA is the biggest polluter in America, with multiple massive spills into the western United States.

    With regulatory friends like the EPA and the IWC, the environment does not need enemies.

  • Max

    At first many did not like using traditional methods, but they found that doing so allowed them to pass dying traditions on to their children giving them a sense of purpose as well as a right of passage for young men that hasen’t been practiced since their grandfathers time. In Russia, they were prevented from taking any whales at all during the Soviet era. They lost the traditions.
    They reached out to the American and Canadian counterparts to relearn what has been forgotten, to fill the emptiness that was unraveling their culture. Eskimo children would go off to college and never come back. There aren’t many jobs on the North Slope that education is useful for.
    My nephews half brother (full Eskimo) came to Vegas to visit him and got a job as a chef in a restaurant. When he calls home to tell them he’s coming back to visit, they tell him no, stay there, the family will come down to Vegas to visit him “in the warm” and he can drive them around since no one has a drivers license.

    Wildlife management is the key, just as a hunting licenses are issued to control the size of the herd, use/ownership of the whales will serve to protect them better, just as it has with the tribes in Africa that manage the elephant herds. Their watch over them is more responsable then game reserves were poachers can bribe the government.
    A similar approach as Americans have done with the Buffalo / wild horses. Or the Siberians have done with the reindeer.
    If the Japanese are the problem… Perhaps they can also be the solution. The bowhead whale winter’s near the coast of Japan it is not likely we can tell them what to do in their own territorial waters.
    They are a proud people who’s way of life is intricately evolved with the sea even though they are extremely modern in their approach.
    Their management skills are uniquely qualified for this task which the entire nation could hold up as a source of pride… Especially if the whales management results in increasing numbers.
    In this way, everyone wins and their way of life is preserved.

  • BSJ

    Pretty weak. I would think that a man of science would have a better counter argument than, ‘I’m an old guy and just know stuff’.

    Self serving rhetoric is not proof of anything.

  • Andrew_W

    “So why not stop now?” asked another journalist.

    “There are some important political reasons why it is difficult to stop now.” he said. He would say no more.

    But Junko Sakuma thinks the answer lies in the fact that Japan’s whaling is government-run, a large bureaucracy with research budgets, annual plans, promotions and pensions.

    “If the number of staff in a bureaucrat’s office decreases while they are in charge, they feel tremendous shame,” she says.

    “Which means most of the bureaucrats will fight to keep the whaling section in their ministry at all costs. And that is true with the politicians as well. If the issue is closely related to their constituency, they will promise to bring back commercial whaling. It is a way of keeping their seats.”

    It may seem incredibly banal. But Japan’s determination to continue whaling may come down to a handful of MPs from whaling constituencies and a few hundred bureaucrats who don’t want to see their budgets cut.

  • BSJ: Yup, you are right, my answer was a weak one. I should have cited some of the innumerable stories I have linked to on BtB in the past eight years, such as this one just this week, and which you must have seen and decided to ignore.

    Or maybe I should have cited this story from August. Or this one. Or this one from July.

    Or this long post from April, detailing the numerous stories of hate and bigotry that now permeates too much of our culture and is approved by too many of our citizens, many of whom come from racial and sexual minorities that have been given special status merely because of their race or sexual preference.

    This is what happens when you give certain people special status. They take advantage of it, and use it to begin to stamp their boot onto the face of those without that special status. And to naively think that people will not take advantage of a special privilege to gain power and profit from it is to live in a fantasy world.

    Unfortunately, that appears to be the position of too many Americans these days, as you so clearly illustrate.

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