Whaling Quota Worth Consideration

by Tony Sinclair

Japanese whaling will be in the Australian news when the International Whaling Commission meets in June.

The IWC will discuss a proposal to limit Southern Ocean culls to 410 each season, saving up to 18,000 whales in the interim until a longer-term solution is brokered in 2020.

Anti-whalers don't like the new proposal because it overturns the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, allowing culls for 'scientific purposes' only. Never mind there's no imperative for whaling countries to demonstrate their activities meet this condition.

Japan is opposed because closing the 'scientific purposes' loophole imposes a definite upper limit on the number of whales they can kill.

If the IWC proposal is not adopted, the alternative is for Japan to continue culling in breach of previous agreements and legislation criminalising whaling in Australian Antarctic waters. Australia has issued threats but matched these with no action to enforce its law at the International Court of Justice.

I see imposing an upper limit on whaling as a pragmatic first step towards a long-term solution.

Creating a quota brings the 1986 moratorium into the spotlight by recognizing it was an ineffective agreement, that allowed whaling to continue unabated.

A quota also promotes measurable management of endangered whale populations, on the path to meeting the culturally sensitive demands of two otherwise close allies.


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