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Caza Ballenera

Caza Ballenera

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Published by bigjimna

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Published by: bigjimna on Nov 18, 2007
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06/16/2009

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IWC: Joji Morishita - japan comissioner in interviewTom Seaman (writing for Fishing News International - FNI)01 October 2007SOMETHING has to give after the 2007 International Whaling Commission (IWC)meeting in Alaska yielded no progress in Japan's push for a commercialwhaling quota.So says Joji Morishita, director for international negotiations at Japan'sFisheries Agency and alternate commissioner to the IWC.In an interview with FNI's Tom Seaman, he covers what the next steps will befor Japan, its frustrations with the IWC's structure and the misconceptionsthat surround Japan's long-running bid for a renewal of whaling in its domestic waters.The country has had three fisheries ministers in recent months due to aperiod of political uncertainty followed by the resignation of PrimeMinister Shinzo Abe. This may further delay any action on the whalingissues.FNI: How do you see Japan's approach to the IWC in the aftermath of Anchorage 2007 and the lead-up to Chile 2008?Joji Morishita: One thing is certain and that is very clear from our laststatement at the IWC. We said that we have done everything we can do; wehave tried being aggressive and, also, tried to accommodate.Japan has made every possible proposal for the last 20 years and nothingworked.Now we have to step back from the IWC and try to find out any other actionsthat we can take.It is clear that we cannot expect something positive for the time beingunless the general atmosphere or culture of the IWC changes.FNI: What will these actions involve?JM: They could be a withdrawal or an initiation of a new organisation. Also,from our point of view the instigation of a proposal to get a small typecoastal whaling quota in Japan's 200-mile zone.There are many voices domestically that are calling for a unilateralresumption of whaling activities in our 200 mile zone, as it is our water.We will start putting these forward, in consultation with other countriesthat are supporting the sustainable use of whales, like Iceland and Norwayand, also, some of the developing countries.FNI: What stage are these possibilities at?JM: Finally we are in a position where we can start something now. Over thesummer we lost ground because of the domestic political situation, but youwill see something over the coming months.Now, all I can say is that things have not started yet.FNI: Will you be represented at the IWC meeting in Chile in 2008?
 
JM: My guess is we will be there, but the Japanese delegation will be muchsmaller in a physical sense and, also, less active towards the IWC meetingitself.We have almost no hope to achieve anything in the IWC.We will not prevent or disrupt discussion, but I do not think that, unlikeprevious meetings, we will make any strong points.FNI: How do you feel about the Anchorage meeting in retrospect?JM: At the Anchorage meeting we stepped forward in some of the fields interms of the approach we took, but the end result was the same.Japan went as far as to say that, if the IWC and extreme anti-whalingcountries were prepared to accept our proposal for small coastal typewhaling, we would be prepared to talk about some reduction in our Arcticresearch whaling activities.In a usual organisation, this would be possible because it is a very clear give and take. It was a very bold decision on our side to talk about a giveand take situation. But, in this case, Australia and New Zealand said theywill not give us anything but Japan has to give back.That was just one indication of the dysfunctional situation of the IWC wherethere is no willingness to talk. You need some degree of mutual trust.You don't need to trust the other side 100% to achieve a deal. But if youdon't trust the other side at all, then you can't talk about a deal.If an organisation cannot come to a deal then what is the point of itsexistence?FNI: Does Japan have a future in the IWC?JM: Japan is not hoping that the IWC is dead; we tried to save thisorganisation. That's why we started the so-called normalisation of IWC.FNI: How do you explain the meaning of normalising the IWC?JM: Japan and the other members supporting the sustainable use of whaleresources have expressed their commitment to normalising. We are convincedthat the IWC can be saved from its current crisis only by respect for andgood faith interpretation of the 1946 International Convention for theRegulation of Whaling (ICRW). This means protecting endangered and depletedspecies while allowing the sustainable utilisation of abundant species under a controlled, transparent and science-based management regime.FNI: What do you see as the main issues with the IWC?JM: The middle countries do not get heard. For example, Sweden is notagainst whaling per se, they just want to establish measures to ensure thatfuture whaling would not over-harvest stocks.I would say that The Netherlands and, probably, also South Africa havesimilar opinions.However, whenever we have a vote it is always black and white: there are nomiddle groups.
 
There have been a few attempts in previous IWC meetings to establish middlegroups, but every time it has failed. If it fails again this time in Chile,then the IWC will be dead, in a sense.FNI: How did the political failure of the Icelandic return to whalingreverberate in Japan?JM: Of course they talked to us about it; this time the decision was madenot to give another commercial whaling quota, but that does not mean thatthey have quit commercial whaling.Like other fisheries activities, they decide the size of the quota takinginto account economic factors and other situations.It is no secret that we are talking with them about international trade,which is not completed yet. However, the Icelandic government has decided towait and see what happens with our negotiations and see how that developsbefore they issue an initial quota.In Iceland, like us, their basic position is that whale hunting is nothingdifferent from any other fishery or seafood. In the seafood business it isquite normal to take fish and export for the economy.It doesn't make sense that exporting fish is OK, but exporting whale meat isnot OK. They keep saying that they would like to normalise whale and whaletrading, just like any other seafood trading.FNI: What do you see as normalising whaling?JM: By normalisation I mean that whaling should be structured like any other fishery, with quota. They might take the entire quota or half the quota,depending on the situation.Also, they might choose to sell the product domestically or abroad, to Japanor Norway or other countries.Last year they had already conducted some trading between Norway andIceland.In our case the supply is still limited as it is a by-product of our research activities.FNI: What is the demand for whale products in Japan?JM: In 1962 the domestic market was largest, at that time 200,030 tonnesconsumed. The by-product from research and small scale domestic whalingconsumed annually is now around 7000 tonnes. It is only 2/3% of 40 yearsago.I am not saying that 2% should go back to 100%, but the sense of many peoplein Japan is that there is the potential demand several times larger than6-7000 tonnes. In Japan, we have been eating whale meat and utilising whalebackbones, blubber and oil for more than 9000 years.FNI: How to you respond to the green lobby attitude that whales areendangered and should not be hunted?JM: Many species and stocks of whales are abundant, increasing andrecovering from past over harvesting.

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