Greenpeace and most anti whaling organisations proclaimed victory for the whales after the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Anchorage and a deafening defeat for the pro-whaling nations.
This is hardly the truth.
Most IWC delegates agree that the current IWC is dysfunctional and the positions are deadlocked. The moderate minded delegates still believe that the IWC is the best body to solve and manage whaling issues.
Japan threatens as usual to leave the IWC , but Norway has stated it has no intention to leave the IWC and the IWC is the best body to take care of its interests.
So who are the winners and losers in this high political game?
“Yesterday the on-line paper American Prospect (www.prospect.org) published my evaluation of the present whaling crisis that some of the participants in this debate here might care to look at. I have concluded that the authorities and commercial interests in Japan do not wish the moratorium on commercial whaling to be lifted, because conducting commercial whaling under Special permits for ostensibly scientific purposes is more convenient. The overwhelming evidence now is that Japan intends to indefinitely expand its unregulated whaling, as the major whale populations recover. The argument that whales are eating “our” fish, and that some of them are now competing with the others and hampering thier recovery are purely devices to justify future unsustainable whaling, which is the only kind that can be profitable. The argument about meat stockpiles is interesting because it is really not about selling the current catches but rather preparing the consumer base for the planned increases in production in the coming decade.. Look at it that way and then consider the discussion now going on in the technical press in Japan regarding the projected design of a new and bigger factory ship, and increasing the numbers of catcher boats in order to fully use the factories processing capacity.”
“Japan is happy to continue scientific whaling; but they say scientific whaling is needed because they want to overturn the moratorium, so they need the moratorium to continue scientific whaling,” he says.”
And what did the antis say?
In the BBC article, Dr Epstein from the University of Sydney said:
“There’s that relationship between NGOs and governments that is quite functional from both of their perspectives,” observes Dr Epstein.
“Governments look quite green because they’re listening to NGOs; NGOs get listened to in an international system of states where there isn’t much room normally for them. So there isn’t much incentive to listen to anything else.”
In this thesis, the NGOs dictate what governments need to say to look green, the governments say it, and NGOs duly say nice things about them. Reporters lap it all up, even help foment it, because they know what story their readers are expecting; it is all utterly predictable, and nobody has an incentive to step out of line.
Everyone’s a winner; except, of course, the whales.
PS The Norwegian media even pointed out that Norway was praised at the IWC meeting for its thorough report on how long it takes to kill a whale!