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ARTICLE: Japan Shrugs Off Dispute, Sending Whalers On New Hunt

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thomas

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Can anyone explain what "whaling on a scientific basis" actually means...?
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Thursday, November 16 8:49 PM SGT

Japan Shrugs Off Dispute, Sending Whalers On New Hunt

SHIMONOSEKI, Japan (AP)--In the face of growing tension with the United States over its expanded whaling program, Japan is going ahead with another hunting expedition, aiming a fleet at waters off Antarctica.
The hunt, beginning with a departure ceremony on Friday at the port of Shimonoseki on the southwestern tip of the main island of Honshu, comes as U.S. President Bill Clinton is deciding whether to recommend sanctions against Japan.

Criticism of Japan's whaling program mounted earlier this year after Tokyo expanded its hunt from minke whales to include Bryde's and sperm whales, both protected under U.S. law.

Friday's hunt was to focus only on minke whales, which are more numerous - and therefore less controversial. But Japanese officials were keeping a tight lid on information about the hunt.

The whaling program came up Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Brunei, where Clinton told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori that the hunt could hurt U.S.-Japan relations.

Mori said it was important to deal with whaling on a scientific basis, a Japanese official reported on condition of anonymity.

Anti-whaling activists said the hunt ceremony was scheduled for Friday morning. The Fisheries Agency, however, was releasing only the vaguest information about the hunt, and refused to give a schedule.


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Re: "Can anyone explain what "whaling on a scientific basis" actually means...?"

As far as I can tell, it means that decisions related to whaling should be based on science.

Sure, people could argue based purely on other grounds. The New Zealanders, Australians, British etc would cry out "NO WHALING! WHALING IS DESPICABLE". The Japanese, Norwegians, Faroe Islanders, Alaskan Eskimos, Greenlanders, Icelanders, Caribbean Islanders, and so on, sitting on the other side of the table would say "whaling is just another way of getting food, what are you getting so upset about?"

Arguing like that would get no one anywhere. And unfortunately, that's the current situation. There is no rational debate, because people are more interested in arguing in terms of politics and culture rather than being rational and recognising that people from different cultural backgrounds will never agree. This is why I think the whaling side wants to argue in terms of science. They know that in terms of science there is simply no argument - the Revised Management Procedure has already been finalised, it's just a matter of implementation.

Those who wish to argue on other terms are just worried about how bad they will look amongst their voters when they are forced to admit that a return to whaling was permitted by the IWC. This is a totally unprincipled, dishonourable stance.

Those nations that don't want whaling have no business belonging to a body whose purpose is to regulate whaling sustainably. They should get out of the IWC and oppose it directly, rather than trying to scuttle the boat. In the end, the whalers will get fed up and simply jump ship, or they would drown (and they aren't stupid). Unfortunately once they have jumped ship, those opposed to whaling will have absolutely no say on what happens with regard to whaling. Canada got fed up, and turned it's back on the IWC, instead choosing to stick up for the rights of it's indigenous people. If the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling became insignificant, then unrestricted whaling might resume.

It's time these politicking anti-whaling nations pulled their collective heads in and started behaving in a rational, reasoned manner.
 

brewdude

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Hey there Nowrong,

your list of whaling nations consists of native groups and the 2 countries that continue comercial whaling (Japan and Norway). I see a huge difference in the methods and goals of those two groups. Native groups are claiming to continue a tradition that is very cultural. Norway and Japan are just out looking for another resource to pull from the ocean. Heck, the Whale was a VERY small part of the Japanese diet until just after WWII. Their claim of cultural imperative is somewhat missleading. Science is fine, but comparing whale meat to beef is as misleading as you claim the "Anti-whaling" people are. We created cows. They are domesticated. WHales are not. Better to compare whales with other fisheries stocks. All marine rescources are falling. Not due to a resurgence of whales but due to poor management by people. The science shows that humans are incapable of using any resource wisely
 
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I can't agree with you on your analysis of differences between "native" whaling and whaling by nations like Japan and Norway.

As for methods, the Alaskans for example, whose whaling is permitted, use the most modern techniques for whaling.

And there are commercial elements involved in "native" whaling, such as that in northern Alaska. As in pretty much any human community, different humans serve different roles. Some people produce food for all the rest. In exchange, the food producers obtain goods / services in return for the food they provide. There are therefore commercial elements in some "native" whaling operations which are already permitted today.

As this is a Japan forum I assume you are probably aware of the traditional whaling communities that exist within Japan, such as Taiji, Oshika, etc.
Oshika's home page is here:
http://www8.ocn.ne.jp/~oshika/
You don't have to look at the page very long before you realise what the community of Oshika is all about. These communities are not so different at all from other whaling communities who are permitted to catch whales.

While you are correct to say that whale was a small part of the Japanese diet until just after WWII, you don't seem to consider such groups as those that have developed over a long period of time, consuming whales on a regular basis. Small scale whaling has existed in Japan for a very long time. Why are traditional whaling communities in Japan less important than communities in places like Alaska, USA? The Japanese government is more than entitled to defend the culture of whaling which exists amongst groups of it's people. Indeed, the Canadian government did exactly the same, but when it realised that the IWC was disfunctional and not serving it's purpose (whale conservation, as opposed to whale protectionism), it put it's indigenous people's rights first, and quit the IWC. In the future, Japan too may take a similar action unless things change.
As for Norway, they have been whaling for as long as anybody, hundreds and hundreds of years. Given the environment in which these people live, it is no surprise that whaling cultures developed. Agricultural techniques were not feasible, but marine resource use was. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this way of obtaining food. Indeed nations such as New Zealand Australia, the Uk and US also didn't see anything wrong with whaling while they were making money out of it!

I understand when you refer to Japan and Norway you are probably referring to the larger scale, commercial whaling operations that are not community based. These indeed are are a different case, but I think we should not let this blur our vision where community based whaling in those countries also still exists.

You note that: "Science is fine, but comparing whale meat to beef is as misleading as you claim the "Anti-whaling" people are. We created cows. They are domesticated. WHales are not."

I personally can't see the problem with humans utilising resources like wild animals, providing that it can be done so in a sustainable manner. Although many western nations have a culture of agriculture, raising domesticated animals, for the purpose of food, other cultures have developed relying on hunting animals. These cultures are no less nor more than agriculture based cultures.

Some whaling cultures are thousands of years old, clear evidence that whaling can be sustainable. Whaling clearly wasn't sustainable when the oil whalers were killing every whale they could find to boost their profits as much as possible, but cultures in which whales are primarily a source of food, obviously one only needs to kill enough to fill everyone's stomachs.

I would add that selling whale meat is essentially no different from selling beef. Just as agriculture originally supported individuals, as human society become more sophisticated, people began to trade meat for other goods that they were not able to produce themselves. This is not a evil thing, is it? This is no different from the commercial elements involved in whaling. There are large industries based around selling beef for profit. Providing whaling operations are sustainable, why is this any different from selling whale meat for profit?
Sustainability is the key, I believe.

You note: "Better to compare whales with other fisheries stocks. All marine rescources are falling. Not due to a resurgence of whales but due to poor management by people. The science shows that humans are incapable of using any resource wisely"

I agree 100% that whale management practices are more similar to fisheries than to cow farming. The cow comparison is, I believe, made in response to assertions that killing whales is somehow evil, because whales are such great cute creatures. In my opinion, a cow's life should not be thought of with any less respect than that of a whale's. The whaling peoples have the impression that anti-whaling groups often seem to believe that whales are somehow more special than cows, and more deserving of life (put it another way, what did the cows do wrong?). The belief that whales are more special is merely a recent cultural invention, due to propanganda from protectionist groups. These groups claim that whales are somehow too special to be killed, whereas it's apparently open slather on cows, sheep, chickens, fish, and various other animals. As I mentioned above, this "special" view of whales didn't exist when whaling nations were happily killing lots of whales for their oil, and chucking the carcass back into the ocean.

However, while whale management practices are similar to fisheries, the science involved in the sustainable management of this resource is still quite different - one can't take a fishieries management scheme and apply it to whales. You claimed that science has proven that marine resource use is not sustainable. As for the case of whale management, this is certainly not the case. The IWC's Scientific Committee has devised and rigorously tested a new management procedure which they call the "Revised Management Procedure". It is a highly precautious, conservative management procedure for setting whale catch quotas. When the Scientific Committee completed the scientific work related to this procedure, all whale scientists on the committee (around 120, from various countries around the world) unaminously recommended that the IWC adopt this procedure for management of whales. Given this unaminous backing from such a diverse range of scientists, the IWC naturally agreed to adopt the RMP. There is a brief overview of the RMP here:
http://www.iwcoffice.org/Estimate.htm#RMP

At the bottom of that page I mention above, it is noted that the scientific aspects concerning a return to whaling are all complete. When whaling will resume is however, up to the politicians at the IWC to decide. As I mentioned in my previous message, it is clear that many politicians representing countries such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, have no interest in allowing whaling to resume, despite the clear scientific backing which supports the assertion that whaling can be sustainable. They have no intention of participating in accordance with the IWC's convention, thus I believe they should get out, or take a more honourable stance in light of their membership. (They did afterall sign a document which stated that the IWC's goal was to provide for sustainable whale management - effectively, they lied).

---

Given that scientific evidence supports the notion that whales are a natural resource which can be sustainably utilised (and hundreds of years old whaling cultures also back this concept), why should such cultures not be permitted to continue?

Essentially I think this comes back to science - regardless of whether the whaling operations are community based, or larger scale commercial operations *providing that the operation is sustainable* (which it will be under the RMP), why should either of these activities not be permitted?

Clearly community based and larger scale commercial operations exist with respect to other types of animal consumption such as cows, and scientific evidence indicates that whaling can be sustainable, providing catch limits are set in accordance with the RMP.

These traditional communities have been trampled on by foreign politicians for too long. It's time they stopped their politicking and behaved more rationally, and in accordance with science, when they consider whether or not to permit these whaling activities. One again notes that while Alaskan whaling is permitted (they are allowed to take 66 bowhead whales from a stock of around 7000 whales), where as traditional Japanese communities are not, despite wanting to take only 50 whales from a stock which is around three times as big as that of the Alaskans. It's clear that there is a double standard here.
 

brewdude

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[I can't agree with you on your analysis of differences between "native" whaling and whaling by nations like Japan and Norway.

As for methods, the Alaskans for example, whose whaling is permitted, use the most modern techniques for whaling.


SO the eskimos use explosive tipped harpoons and large factory ships?



you don't seem to consider such groups as those that have developed over a long period of time, consuming whales on a regular basis.



I would consider the Japanese groups if they were held to the same standards as other "Native" hunting groups. The Eskimos don't hunt to sell to the rest of the U.S. If the Japanese groups were classified as indigenous then I would back them



Small scale whaling has existed in Japan for a very long time. Why are traditional whaling communities in Japan less important than communities in places like Alaska, USA? The Japanese government is more than entitled to defend the culture of whaling which exists amongst groups of it's people. Indeed, the Canadian government did exactly the same, but when it realised that the IWC was disfunctional and not serving it's purpose (whale conservation, as opposed to whale protectionism), it put it's indigenous people's rights first, and quit the IWC.

Ahh, but Canada is not sending fleets of whaling ships across oceans to hunt. They are defending their "native" peoples right to hunt



In the future, Japan too may take a similar action unless things change.
As for Norway, they have been whaling for as long as anybody, hundreds and hundreds of years. Given the environment in which these people live, it is no surprise that whaling cultures developed. Agricultural techniques were not feasible, but marine resource use was. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this way of obtaining food. Indeed nations such as New Zealand Australia, the Uk and US also didn't see anything wrong with whaling while they were making money out of it!

So because the above countries once had whaling fleets (back when science was not very well known) and did not seem to mind there should still be hunts today. That kind of sounds like "hey, you guys had all of the fun and now you won't let us play

I understand when you refer to Japan and Norway you are probably referring to the larger scale, commercial whaling operations that are not community based. These indeed are are a different case, but I think we should not let this blur our vision where community based whaling in those countries also still exists.


Well, you are half right! Of course I am refering to the factory ships and the transoceanic fleets. The canadian and Alaskan hunters don't sail down to antartica to hunt. they do so close to shore (their shore) SO yes they are indeed a different case.

You note that: "Science is fine, but comparing whale meat to beef is as misleading as you claim the "Anti-whaling" people are. We created cows. They are domesticated. WHales are not."

I personally can't see the problem with humans utilising resources like wild animals, providing that it can be done so in a sustainable manner. Although many western nations have a culture of agriculture, raising domesticated animals, for the purpose of food, other cultures have developed relying on hunting animals. These cultures are no less nor more than agriculture based cultures.


I have nothing against a culture that eats meat. I am not a vegetarian, nor do I plan to become one. There are some things that I think we should not hunt. Whales are among them, as are any other animal that can be considered intelligent. We don't hunt the Great Apes (well, a few fartsniffing poachers do) .

Some whaling cultures are thousands of years old, clear evidence that whaling can be sustainable.Whaling clearly wasn't sustainable when the oil whalers were killing every whale they could find to boost their profits as much as possible, but cultures in which whales are primarily a source of food, obviously one only needs to kill enough to fill everyone's stomachs.

But in Japan's case do you only count the Ainu or do all 125 million Japanese get a nice juicy piece of whale (or more likely Dolphin as if you test the whale meat sold here it is dolphin more often than not)




I would add that selling whale meat is essentially no different from selling beef. Just as agriculture originally supported individuals, as human society become more sophisticated, people began to trade meat for other goods that they were not able to produce themselves.

Ummm you have it backwards. Hunting and gathering came first. Then Ag. as Human society became more sophisticated we relied less on meat.



The cow comparison is, I believe, made in response to assertions that killing whales is somehow evil, because whales are such great cute creatures. In my opinion, a cow's life should not be thought of with any less respect than that of a whale's.

Then in your set of moral codes, should all animals be on the list of things we can eat. Cats, dogs, pandas, people?


The belief that whales are more special is merely a recent cultural invention, due to propanganda from protectionist groups.


I would like you to back that up. Even the native peoples who hunted whales considered them special. And with the same "recent cultural invention" arguement I could just as easily say that the belief that slavery is evil was due to propaganda. Recent changes are often good and not everything that comes from someone in a camp opposed to yours is propaganda



Given that scientific evidence supports the notion that whales are a natural resource which can be sustainably utilised (and hundreds of years old whaling cultures also back this concept), why should such cultures not be permitted to continue?

Such cultures are permitted...it is the larrge scale of hunting that is not wanted anymore, except by a few whaling ship owners



These traditional communities have been trampled on by foreign politicians for too long. It's time they stopped their politicking and behaved more rationally, and in accordance with science, when they consider whether or not to permit these whaling activities. One again notes that while Alaskan whaling is permitted (they are allowed to take 66 bowhead whales from a stock of around 7000 whales), where as traditional Japanese communities are not, despite wanting to take only 50 whales from a stock which is around three times as big as that of the Alaskans. It's clear that there is a double standard here.


Again show me the facts. Japan CURRENTLY takes far more than 50 whales a year of all types. No one over here is trying to get a few whales for the "Natives". They are trying to restart a fishery (whaling) that even most Japanese don't seem to want anymore. It is all about money for the commercial whalers. There is no need for commercial whaling. No major population of people relys on whale meat to survive. Your trust in the IWC science team strikes me as somewhat naieve(spelling..darn that word) It is kind of like trusting the "Scientists" that work for the cigarette companys.
 
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>SO the eskimos use explosive tipped harpoons and large factory ships?

Obviously they don't use large factory ships because they only
catch a small number of whales - smaller vessels are all that is
required. As for the harpoons used, yes, they use modern harpoons not too disimilar to those used by the Norwegians and Japanese. And why shouldn't they? These newer techniques are far more efficient, and mean the whale will die a much faster death. Rather than requiring that modern whalers use ancient, inefficient, slow methods, I would think that it would make more sense for these people to use the most modern methods avaiable, to ensure the fastest, most humane death possible.

>I would consider the Japanese groups if they were held to the >same standards as other "Native" hunting groups. The Eskimos
>don't hunt to sell to the rest of the U.S.

The traditional whaling Japanese communities of Japan consumed the whale meat within their own communities. A large scale commercial operation using the Antartic minke stock for example would of course put the meat on the market whereever the best price was available.

Let me get it straight - you don't have a problem with the traditional communities because they trade the meat within their community. Why would it be a problem if a larger organisation sold the meat amongst a larger community? The only difference is the scale of the operation right? Where does one then draw the line? How big does the community have to be before the operation becomes unacceptable to you?

Providing the larger scale operation is sustainable, like the smaller
scale operation, then I don't see why there would be a problem.

>If the Japanese groups were classified as indigenous then I
>would back them

Much documentation supporting this has been presented to the IWC. Organized whaling in Japan has roots as far back as 400 years ago, let alone simpler, non organized forms of whaling.

>Ahh, but Canada is not sending fleets of whaling ships across
>oceans to hunt. They are defending their "native" peoples right
>to hunt

There are two distinct types of whalers in Japan:
1) traditional whaling communities
2) larger, pelagic whaling operations
These two types of whaling are very very distinct, and they should be dealt with on a case by case basis. It seems that since some people don't like the idea of larger Japanese operations, they won't allow any Japanese operations, simply because the smaller operations are also carried out by Japanese people. I'm glad you agree that small scale whaling should be permitted, but now it's time this should change at the IWC.
Unfortunately however, countries such as the UK, Australia, NZ etc
are not prepared to acknowledge the different groups within Japan, instead choosing to clump them all together - one nice big stereotype.

>So because the above countries once had whaling fleets
>(back when science was not very well known) and did not
>seem to mind there should still be hunts today.

I'm not "should be", I'm saying "why not?"

>That kind of sounds like "hey, you
>guys had all of the fun and now you won't let us play

No, the point I was making was that all of a sudden in recent years there has been a change in culture in countries such as those I mentioned. They never used to see anything wrong with whaling, just as the Japanese, Norwegians, and other whalers don't. Now that culture has changed in those countries, essentially due to years of propaganda from groups such as Greenpeace, these same countries now run around demanding traditional whalers such as Japan stop their actvities. Why should they stop just because the UK, US, Australia, and New Zealand stopped? It's scientifically recognised that any catch quotas set by the IWC Scientific Committee would be sustainable. Rather than "hey you guys had all the fun", it's more like the anti-whalers saying "hey, we don't play that game anymore,
so neither can you".

>Well, you are half right! Of course I am refering to the factory
>ships and the transoceanic fleets. The canadian and Alaskan
>hunters don't sail down to antartica to hunt. they do so close to >shore (their shore) SO yes they are indeed a different case.

Actually, the Norwegians only catch whales in their own waters as well. And Japan catches less whales for research in the whole of the Antarctic than Norway catches in their own waters. Unfortunately though, this isn't just a matter of catching whales in your own waters - whales migrate and travel through the waters belonging to many nations. Thus it is not a problem of where whales are caught, but a problem of how many are caught.

>I have nothing against a culture that eats meat.

How about a culture that eats whales?

>I am not a vegetarian, nor do I plan to become one. There
>are some things that I think we should not hunt. Whales
>are among them, as are any other animal that can be
>considered intelligent.

How intelligent? And how are you going to compare the intelligence of animals that live on land with the intelligence of animals which live in a totally different environment like the sea?

>We don't hunt the Great Apes (well, a few fartsniffing poachers do) .

I too come from a culture which says much the same thing. I eat meat, although I have never eaten whale, and don't really have a great urge to try it. I generally prefer farmed animal meat to what comes out of the sea. I don't eat frogs either, like some French people. Indeed mine is one of the "antiwhaling" cultures. But at the same time, on the other side of the world, Hindi people have very strong beliefs about beef consumption. Muslim people have strong beliefs about pork consumption. What I do (eat these things) is not acceptable to those people, but they do not try to tell me that I shouldn't do it. What it all comes down to is a difference of culture. There is no right or wrong about what people eat for food. The Hindis aren't wrong to believe that
beef should not be consumed, they simply developed this culture
through a historical series of events. We aren't wrong to believe it
is wrong to consume certain animals either. It is just a matter of
difference. I believe it is the same with the whales (I have never seen evidence of why it should be otherwise). For this reason, I personally will not oppose whaling on culturally based grounds,
because my culture is no more correct than another.

As for whales being intelligent, I have tried to find evidence to
support the assertion, but generally there is only evidence which
seems to support the opposite, that whales are actually about as
intelligent as cows and deer (both animals which I have no problem with eating). Most of the assertions about whale intelligence were found at anti-whaling information dessimination sites such as Greenpeace, with no evidence to back them up.

>But in Japan's case do you only count the Ainu or do all 125
>million Japanese get a nice juicy piece of whale (or more likely
>Dolphin as if you test the whale meat sold here it is dolphin
>more often than not)

I don't think the Ainu hunt whales anymore, but there are about 4 or 5 small traditional whaling communities in Japan which I was refering to.
As for the other 125 million people... as you know hardly any Japanese people actually want to eat whale meat anymore, the demand for it is very low. When meat from last year's research whaling was put onto the wholesale market earlier this year much of it was not sold. Any commercial operation will probably meet with failure due to this lack of demand. But if some business wants to waste it's money, it's not my concern, providing they aren't breaking any catch limits.
I'm not going to say "you don't need to eat the meat" either, because there is no need to any human to eat any meat really - ask the vegans, they are doing great without any form of animal consumption.

>>I would add that selling whale meat is essentially no different from selling beef. Just as agriculture originally supported individuals, as human society become more sophisticated, people began to trade meat for other goods that they were not able to produce themselves.

>Ummm you have it backwards. Hunting and gathering came first.
>Then Ag. as Human society became more sophisticated we
>relied less on meat.

I was making a comparison between selling whale meat and selling beef, not agriculture vs marine resource use - trade is just an exchange of goods. As for sophistication, nations which developed upon a reliance on the sea are no less sophisticated than those which now rely on agriculture. In fact, I would argue that cow farming is actually very simple compared with modern marine reosurce use. The science required to ensure the marine resource use is sustainable is far more sophisticated than cow farming which essentially consists of counting the number of animals you have, figuring out how many you artificially inseminated, and doing some substraction. Far more complex science is required where sustainable whaling is concerned. Read some of the reports of the IWC Scientific Committee for some examples.

>Then in your set of moral codes, should all animals be on the list
>of things we can eat. Cats, dogs, pandas, people?

Yes, everything is "on the menu" so to speak, although I can't think of anyone who actually wants to eat people. I don't think it is possible for the various peoples of the world to agree on which animals are the "right ones" to eat. Hindis would strike cows off the list, Muslims and Jews the pork, and so on. We wouldn't have much left to eat. And I think it would be rather culturally arrogant and intolerant if any one group were to decide whose list was the right one.

Additionally, the eating people argument is I believe a little
different to eating non people (such as cows, whales etc). No one would like to see their brother or sister eaten by our neighbour (the vegans have extended this argument to other animals as well) This is just a feature of human society in general.
I doubt I would even be here today if it was any different. Of course there used to be cannibal cultures in some parts of the world (maybe still some remain), but these existed for cultural reasons too (ie, eating the dead as a sign of respect, superstitious ideas about obtaining traits of the person being eaten), rather than any real need for food.

>>The belief that whales are more special is merely a recent cultural
>>invention, due to propanganda from protectionist groups.

>I would like you to back that up.

Well, one easy example is the fact that today's most antiwhaling
nations used to hunt whales as much if not more than today's whalers. How special did New Zealanders, Australians, Americans and British think the whales were when they were slaughtering them for oil then throwing the carcases back in the sea?

Now, it's clear that these nations believe whales are much more "special" today than they used to. This belief is very new, and it's just based on cultural factors that appeared in those countries. The same factors didn't catch on in places where whale meat was used primarily for food, rather than just for oil.

>Even the native peoples who hunted whales considered them special.
>And with the same "recent cultural invention" arguement I could
>just as easily say that the belief that slavery is evil was due
>to propaganda.

Can you find a similar example that does not involve humans? Why do whales get mentioned in the same breath as humans but not cows or the other things that are "okay" to eat? (As an aside, "Human rights" is also , in my opinion, just a cultural invention - I'm personally in full support of it, not all people in the world are though)

Anyhow, the following article provides a good overview of the change in New Zealand's policy towards whaling (as one example):
http://luna.pos.to/whale/gen_nz.html
"The New Zealand stance in 1977 was, that there is really no ethical difference between the killing of a whale or any other mammal, and its concerns with whaling did not imply a belief that commercial whaling is wrong in itself"

As you know, now New Zealand as aligned itself with Greenpeace (the NZ government doesn't have a policy on whaling at the moment, it's official line is that it supports whatever Greenpeace says).

>Recent changes are often good and not everything
>that comes from someone in a camp opposed to yours is propaganda

That is quite true, however when Greenpeace, IFAW and other similar groups make such claims as "whales are endangered", I can not help but describe this as propaganda. Such misinformation as this is in my opinion designed purely to make people believe things that are not true so that they will take a particular stance on the issue (and maybe even donate some money to the cause as well). The quality of information
available at such anti-whaling NGO sites is well below par. They rarely if ever give any detailed information regarding the topic.
They do however attempt to give the impression that whaling is an activity which will drive "whales" to extinction. Often, such sites do not even make a distinction between the whale stocks which are depleted and those which are abundant. They will give such information about how endangered blue whales, humpbacks, and so on are, but never actually mention that
today's whalers are not targetting these species anyway (even if they wanted to the Scientific Committee would never set a non zero catch limit anyhow). This is why I describe the information these groups provide as propaganda, it's not simply because I disagree with them. The information is highly misleading. I believe that inciting anti-whaling opinion by such misinformation is for these groups, merely a fundraising stunt to get funds to support their less glamourous projects.

>>Given that scientific evidence supports the notion that whales are a natural resource which can be sustainably utilised (and hundreds of years old whaling cultures also back this concept), why should such cultures not be permitted to continue?

>Such cultures are permitted...

Unfortunately not the case. Small scale whaling in Japan is not permitted, despite it being even smaller in scale than some whaling which is permitted.

>it is the larrge scale of hunting that is not wanted anymore,
>except by a few whaling ship owners

The science shows that large scale whaling too can be sustainable. Despite this, some nations refuse to act constructively at the IWC. These nations are clearly acting without regard for the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. If they don't want whaling anymore, they should get out of the IWC, because the IWC has the principle of sustainable whaling at it's core. It is most dishonourable
for nations who do not agree with the principle of the IWC to remain members of the IWC. Which international agreements will be trampled on next?

>Again show me the facts. Japan CURRENTLY takes far more
>than 50 whales a year of all types.

As I mentioned above, there is more than just one type of Japanese whaling. The communities who wish to continue their tradition of coastal whaling are not the large NPO sending larger ships to the Antarctic and to conduct research of the minke stock there. These groups are quite distinct.
The research whalers taking 400+/- 10% Antarctic minkes has
nothing to do with coastal whalers taking 50 North Pacific minkes. The two types of whales are from seperate stocks. While the Antarctic stock is estimated at around 760,000 (see http://www.iwcoffice.org), the North Pacific stock is estimated at about 25,000.
There is a research project in the North Pacific as well, however that only takes 100 minkes. The total between the two groups would come to 150 whales, which is still a smaller proportion of the North Pacific minke stock than the 66 whales taken from the Bowhead stock of 7000.

>No one over here is trying to get a few whales for the "Natives".

Since you are in Japan, I hope you take the opportunity to visit Taiji or Ayukawa or another traditional whaling community and compare that with what goes on in North Alaska. You will find,
as was presented to the IWC, that the two cases are strikingly similar.

>They are trying to restart a fishery (whaling) that even most
>Japanese don't seem to want anymore.

This is indeed the case with the large scale whaling - I have been talking though mainly about traditional coastal whaling, which is quite distinct

>It is all about money for
>the commercial whalers. There is no need for commercial whaling.

What's wrong with making money? The cow farmers are in business to make money too, just like the whalers. Look at cow farming in New Zealand, to continue that example. Cow farming is a very substantial business. As for need - there is no need for cow farming either - we could all go vegan. If one thinks the whalers don't need whale meat, one should be prepared to be told that one does not need beef either. We could both eat other things and do just fine.

>No major population of people relys on whale meat to survive.

The Alaskans don't need whale meat either. In this day and age they could be provided with a substitute. Or as I said above they could just go vegan - it works for the vegans afterall. However, unlike the Japanese case, the Alaskans aren't being bullied about by a bunch of foreign politicians about what they can and can not eat. Amusingly, the US will support it's Alaskans eating whales where as it won't uphold the right of Japanese groups who wish to do exactly the same (yet, with less impact on the whales being targetted!)

The current US administration claims to fight for the freedom of all people - here is one example where that clearly isn't the case. It's not just the US of course, it's as much the fault of NZ, Aus, and the UK as well, but they do have to deal with this obvious double standard somehow.

>Your trust in the IWC science team strikes me as somewhat
>naieve(spelling..darn that word) It is kind of like trusting
>the "Scientists" that work for the cigarette companys.

Is it naive?
Have you ever read any of the documents produced by the scientific commmittee?
There are 120 members in the scientific committee. They come from various countries around the world, including scientists recommended to their positions by fiercely anti-whaling nations.

Rather than being naive, I think it would be foolish to think that such a committee was unlikely to know what it was talking about - a committee of 120 whale scientists is probably a lot more informed about this than you or I, don't you think? If you like, you could try reading some of their reports to decide for yourself if they sound like they know what they are on about.

And unlike the scientists that work for cigarette companies, the IWC scientists are not payrolled by the commercial whalers. The IWC is an international body designed to conserve and sustainably utilise a natural resource, whereas as cigarette companies are trying to make money.
 

brewdude

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Well, it seems that we are about half on the same side here. We both seem to agree that "Native" or "Traditional" hunts should be allowed. The "traditional" whaling communitys in Japan are not allowed to hunt and that is wrong. They might be allowed that right though if their own government would fight for THEIR right to hunt, not the large scale commercial operations that even you admit should be looked at seperately.

Japan does not help it's cause by only including the "Traditional" villages to pry open the door for the large commercial fleets. If Japan would approach these subjects seperately I think you would find that there would be a way to let the small villages hunt.

As for commercial sustainability, THe scientests may be exactly right when they say it COULD be done. But science and industry operate on two very different paths. As a resident of Japan, and as a person who has worked with both a conservation minded organization and a sustainable use organization I think I have a view of the situation that many do not get. I spent the last three years working at a fisheries high school. The students, as you may have guessed, learn how to be fishermen (and women in a few cases). The school library is full of scientific papers and journals that talk about sustainabilty. Unfortunatly, the course work does not reflect the latest in science. The Japanese cannot run ANY of their fisheries in an effective manner. The waters around the home islands are an overfished wasteland. I find it hard to believe that what they cannot do even for the seaweed harvest, they would get right when killing whales.

The scientists could be right but it is moot as the people who do the harvesting ALWAYS overuse the resource until it is gone or unprofitable or both.
 
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It's not really my position that native hunts are okay, it's my position that sustainable hunts are okay. This seems to be the case for native type hunts though.

I don't see how Japan could seperate the whaling cases it puts any more clearly. They have put a proposal to the IWC for around a decade now asking for the relief quota of 50 minke whales for the traditional whaling communities. It's been denied everytime. The politicians who vote at the IWC should surely be well enough informed to be able to distinguish between large scale whaling and the coastal whaling which this 50 minke quota would provide for.

And as for concerns about these industries not operating sustainably, this certainly is a concern, no one wants to see the whale stocks depleted again. However, no commercial whaling will be permitted under the IWC that isn't subject to very strict controls. International observers are already required to be on all commerical whaling vehicles to report on a range of aspects of the whale hunt. There are still parts of the regulatory environment left to be completed before whaling will resume. However, the IWC has been working on this for almost a decade now, and nations like those I have criticised show no real interest in allowing these regulations to move any further towards completion. Each year they come up with a new way to shift the goalposts. It's quite dishonourable. One example was how recently New Zealand proposed that the RMS have an international observer scheme. The thing was, the IWC already has an international observer scheme. The proposal was obviously just another delaying measure, and since the anti-whaling nations have a slight majority they can easily pass these filibustering measures.

This is I think the biggest concern. Unless these nations change their attitude, the whaling nations may eventually get fed up and just tell the IWC to get lost if it isn't going to do what it is supposed to. I think these anti-whaling nations would be far more constructive if they worked to complete the RMS as fast as possible, rather than trying to delay it each year as is currently the case.
 

brewdude

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Well NoWrong,

it seems we are at an impasse. You argue for sustainable hunts supervised by the IWC, in the belief that all will happen in a rational and scientific manner. I believe that the IWC is a political organization and that, like the UN anything they try and control will be ineffective. The political imput will always run things like the IWC. The Whaling nations may very well leave the IWC but it would do them no good. Japan and Norway would soon be cut off from most world markets for any product. THe anti-whaling forces could do that much. Look at what they did to the Canadian Fur Seal Hunters. Your P.O.V. might well be right, but it is not feasable in the worlds political climate.
 
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"it seems we are at an impasse. You argue for sustainable hunts supervised by the IWC, in the belief that all will happen in a rational and scientific manner."

Well, this certainly isn't the case at the moment - it depends on how the member nations behave. Presently due to certain anti-whaling nations' domestic political agendas, the IWC is not working in a rational and scientific manner. With their cooperation however (as opposed to their current attempts to scuttle the ship so to speak), the IWC could function far far better.

The fact is that whaling won't be permitted without very heavy regulations. Any signficant illegal whaling activity would have a very hard job getting away with it without being noticed due to these controls. And this is not to mention the immense scrutiny that the industry would come under from outside organisations such as Greenpeace. Given the way people in anti-whaling nations feel about whales, any misbehaviour on behalf of the whaling industry would lead very rapidly towards support for another commercial whaling moratorium. If the whaling industry again demonstrated that it could not behave itself (although I'm talking about evidence accepted by the IWC and it's regulatory body, whatever form it takes, as opposed to NGOs like Greenpeace), I personally would change my opinion and take the position that non coastal whaling operations be banned permenantly. And this is just me - currently a whaling sympathiser - whereas those against whaling would take a much stronger stance.

Ask yourself - if you were a whaler in a couple of years time, assuming the moratorium is abolished by then, having waited for 2 decades to finally resume your business, how careful would you be about abiding by the rules, given any detected wrong steps would immediately put you out of business once again? Given this unique set of circumstances, if I was a whaler I would be very careful to make sure that I abided by the rules very very closely, every step of the way.

"I believe that the IWC is a political organization and that, like the UN anything they try and control will be ineffective. The political imput will always run things like the IWC. "

Indeed this is how the IWC works. However, saying that because politicians run things at the IWC means the IWC will never make responsible decisions seems to be a generalisation. What reason is there to believe that, if even just some of the anti-whaling nations were to behave more constructively, the IWC could not make responsible, culturally tolerant decisions based on the scientific advice provided by the IWC Scientific Committee?

"The Whaling nations may very well leave the IWC but it would do them no good. Japan and Norway would soon be cut off from most world markets for any product. THe anti-whaling forces could do that much."

I doubt it. Japan has the world's second largest economy, and is a very important trading partner for all of the staunch anti-whaling nations. Which one of those countries would be prepared to cost it's citizens jobs over an issue which their stance is essentially based on a recent cultural notion that whaling is bad? And are any of those governments' prepared to hurt Japanese workers over an activity which in reality happens in many other places in the world anyway?

In fact, many opinion polls conducted by independant surveyers have shown that when presented with factual information about whaling, most are not opposed, and cautiously supportive. Nations have already threatened trade sanctions against Japan in the past as well due to their activities, although these have always turned out to be empty threats, holy political rhetoric to appeal to the so called "green" voters. If any sanctions were imposed, they would be fairly minor and symbolic, aimed at the easily impressed section of voters in those anti-whaling countries.

"Look at what they did to the Canadian Fur Seal Hunters."

I'm not aware of the fur seal hunters case, but as far as I know the Canadian economy seems to be doing fine, and they seem to be a well respected world citizen.

"Your P.O.V. might well be right, but it is not feasable in the worlds political climate."

Yes, at the present time it seems it isn't feasible (but remaining staunchly anti-whaling isn't going to work forever either). I read a speech from one of the New Zealand delegates from back in the early 1990's. In the speech the delegate noted that regardless of science, permitting whaling was simply not acceptable in New Zealand's political environment, and therefore New Zealand would oppose it regardless (yeah, I couldn't believe he actually said that either ;-).

Sooner or later what is required from one or more of the staunch anti-whaling nations is to show some principles on the issue. Taking a constructive stance might seem politically risky, but it would by no means political suicide.

For example, consider this survey by the Responsive Management research group:
http://www.iwmc.org/whales/survey107/minke00.htm
Once presented with facts about whaling, most people are accepting and tolerant of it. The decision to take a tolerant stance towards whaling might be unpopular at first, although it is very very easy to put together a rational argument to support taking such a stance. Indeed, taking such a stance would be most honourable as a member of the international community, and the leadership, principle, and guts shown by the politicians might even gain some kudos if the media was handled well.

Of course the other problem would be dealing with NGOs such as Greenpeace, IFAW, and the like, who all no doubt draw a substantial amount of their donations from campaigning against whaling, and would no doubt be critical. However, I think in a battle over this issue, the governments could easily come out on top, considering that the anti-whaling NGOs invariably use misleading or incorrect information when arguing about the issue. In a debate on this issue, the only thing the NGOs have going for them is emotionalism, whereas the government can appeal to a whole range of things, science, cultural tolerance, rationalism, etc.

At the end of the day, which would be worse for the anti-whaling governments?

1) Japan, Norway, and maybe some other whaling nations leave the IWC and either go it completely alone or create a new body to carry out the role that the IWC is supposed to carry out. The anti-whaling governments lose all influence over the whaling nations' activities in international waters. The governments either try to make out that Japan and Norway are the bad guys, blame it on other anti-whaling nations, or belatedly change tack to assert that whaling is actually not so bad afterall. They may also have to slap some symbolic trade sanctions on the whaling nations in an attempt to appease the voters who fiercely against whaling regardless. The government may face criticism similar to that which I have outlined, in that they could and should have behaved more constructively. Probably not too much dissent from the NGO ranks however, in taking this stance.

2) The US revises it's stance and announces that it plans to act in a more constructive manner at the IWC (although I'm sure they can think up a more politically favourable way of putting it than that!). The US is the most likely candidate to lead the way, as with Alaskan whalers their current stance is hypocritical. The US has the opportunity to display itself as a gracious and honourable world citizen by revising the stance, although naturally they make it clear that whaling must be heavily regulated on conservation grounds. Thus the stance towards whaling remains largely unchanged, and the only distinction between the US government and NGO stance is that the US government makes it clear that it has a responsibility as a world citizen to behave honourably and culturally tolerantly and allow the whaling industry a chance. They can make it clear that it is just "a chance". Many of the neutral and weakly anti-whaling nations who take an anti-whaling stance would, I believe, follow suit, although others would choose to align themselves with nations with whom their relations were most important (ie, Pacific Island nations support New Zealand and Australian anti-whaling stance, assuming they maintain the position). The US comes under attack from NGOs, but as I said above, I believe that the government could easily come out on top given the strength the argument would have.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see what happens at next years IWC meeting. This year Japan took a stance to initially block the whaling of the Alaskans and Russians, which caused a huge outcry even in anti-whaling New Zealand. "How dare the Japanese not allow the Alaskans to catch their whales!?" (I could hardly believe my ears at the time ;-) The Japanese on the other hand explained that the position was taken because the bowhead whale that was to be hunted is an endangered species, whereas the minke which the Japanese wish to hunt is not. However everyone knew that the position was really taken to send a message to the US - if it's okay for you guys to catch 66 endangered whales, why isn't it okay for us to catch 50 non endangered whales? It wasn't reported widely in the western media (naturally), but Japan later retracted their objection to the Alaskan whaling (on their own volition), once the point had been made and a little time had been given for the US to think things over. Just how much this has made the US think shall be revealed at next years meeting.

I for one think they should take option 2) as I outlined above. If not, I'll be eagerly awaiting the Japanese reaction! With the 16 year Japanese research program coming to an end shortly, if the IWC still isn't showing any signs of normalisation by next year, option 1) may become a reality. At the end of the day, I think option 1) would be bad for all parties involved, whalers, anti-whalers, and indeed the whales as well.
 

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