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Soundings Archive

No IWC Compromise on Commercial Whaling
The International Whaling Commission met during the week of June 21, 2010, in Agadir, Morocco. There was substantial discussion during the meetings about whether the IWC members could reach some compromise that would end the 25-year ban on commercial whaling. No compromise has been reached, and the status quo will likely continue for at least another year.

The status quo is a moratorium on commercial whaling that exists only on paper. Japan, Norway, and Iceland have been and still are conducting commercial whaling. A compromise was proposed by IWC chairman Cristian Maquieira of Chile and vice chairman Anthony Liverpool of Antigua and Barbuda. This compromise had been negotiated over several years. It would allow Japan to hunt up to 120 minke whales a year in Japanese coastal waters. It would also cut Japan's annual catch quota of minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean from around 850 at present to 400 for the next five years and 200 over the following five years.

Various factions are blaming each other for the failure to agree to this or any other compromise. Some NGOs blame Japan for being unwilling to give up whaling in certain marine sanctuaries. On the other hand, some pro-whaling factions blame NGOs whom they claim are irrationally against any whaling, and who they claim exercise too much control over some of the governments in the IWC. The pro-whaling factions support their arguments by claiming that the levels of take proposed do not represent any population level threats.

Whatever its future at the IWC, the commercial whaling issue will probably be raised in the special session on whales at the UN General Assembly in September, 2010, and at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan in October, 2010.

  • Click here for the IWC website

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