Sunday 28 February 2010

"Future" proposal looks more like the past

As we feared [see News Item 03.05.09] a proposal has emerged from an intersessional meeting of the Small Working Group (SWG) on the Future of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that would allow Japan and its whaling accomplices to trade-in its self-issued scientific whaling quotas for 'legitimate' IWC quotas. The deal would likely extend to nations such as Norway that lodged objections to the commercial whaling moratorium under relevant items in the Schedule.

The plan was made public this week by Chilean Ambassador Cristian Maquieira, who replaces Dr William Hogarth as IWC Chair this year.

The Maquieira Proposal, as it has been referred to, is one of a number of options developed by the SWG and it has not yet been put to any sort of IWC vote. Australia is a member of the 12-nation group which has met on a number of occasions since it was formed in 2008 [see News Item 01.02.09].

Basically, Japan would voluntarily suspend its Antarctic scientific permit whaling program (JARPA II) in return for a guarantee of IWC whaling quotas for the next decade.

In other words, Japan's punishment for decades of abusing a loophole in the IWC rules and killing thousands of whales for its domestic whale market - during an international moratorium on commercial whaling, and with most of the whales killed within an internationally agreed whale sanctuary - will be renewed IWC whaling quotas. The two other whaling nations, Iceland and Norway, would enjoy similar benefits.

The announcement comes within a week of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's public commitment to finally take international legal action over Japan's continued 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean. The AWCS has written to Prime Minister Rudd urging him to use every diplomatic effort to oppose the Maquieira Proposal, and to hold fast to November 2010 deadline for action in the International Court of Justice.


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