21st June 2010

The Proposal for Compromise on Whaling. 
A proposal which would legitimise commercial whaling, suspend conservation  measures and ignore science. 
A negotiation process to address the problems within the International Whaling Commission (IWC) started in 2007. Following discussion at two annual meetings and a number of intersessional meetings a proposal for a compromise solution was released by the Chair of the IWC on 22 April 2010. The proposal includes a table of catch limits that are to be fixed for ten years and a number of changes to the IWC Schedule (in which binding decisions are recorded). At present the number of whales killed by Iceland, Japan and Norway is determined by the whaling countries themselves rather than the IWC. When the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, a number of countries (Brazil, Chile, Peru, Spain, Republic of Korea and the former USSR) took the decision to stop their commercial whaling activities and comply with the whaling ban. Norway and Iceland temporarily stopped but then re-started and Japan continued, conducting its whaling under the guise of science. Catches of whales for primarily commercial purposes are now happening in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern Oceans with 1,516 whales killed in these operations in 2009 1 . A decision on the proposal will be made at the IWC's annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco 2125 June 2010. Binding decisions such as this require consensus or, if put to a vote, a threequarters majority. The USA has strongly pushed the proposal in order to avoid the situation in 2002 when Japan blocked the USA quota for indigenous whaling by native communities for local consumption because the USA would not back a request by Japan for its coastal commercial whaling. The USA indigenous whaling quota comes up for review in 2012. Other countries that have pushed the proposal include New Zealand, Sweden and Germany. Australia has opposed the proposal but did not submit a formal counter proposal by the 22 April 2010 IWC deadline. The proposal as currently drafted would authorise whaling for commercial purposes despite the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling and the 1994 Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary decisions. It also overrides previous IWC conservation decisions, such as the ban on factory ship whaling for species other than minke whales. Its effect is to tear up 60 years of IWC efforts to conserve whales. The proposal attempts to appeal to countries that have opposed commercial whaling in the past by offering a reduction in the total number of whales killed in the short-term. The actual numbers have yet to be agreed, but the numbers in the April 22 proposal would initially allow catches of around 90% of the total whales killed in 2009. The proposal also suggests that the IWC could put greater efforts into other conservation problems facing whales apart from

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The combined take by Iceland, Norway and Japan for the 2009/10 Southern Ocean season and 2009 Northern Hemisphere season

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whaling. However, there is no reason why such efforts should be linked to a deal on whaling except perhaps to make the proposal appear more attractive to conservation-minded countries. The proposal claims that the proposed catch limits are based on scientific advice, but this is not true. The catch limits in Table 4 of the proposal were thought up by diplomats before the Scientific Committee was consulted. The proposal states that catch limits could be changed during the 10 years if the Scientific Committee so advises. However, there is no mechanism for deciding how such adjustments should occur. Any changes to catch limits would require the support of a three-quarters majority of IWC members and so would be extremely unlikely in practice. The UK has submitted a suggestion that the proposal include the adoption of the RMP into the Schedule in order to ensure that all catch limits have a scientific basis. This suggestion has been ignored by the drafters of the current proposal, in the hope that the proposal will appear science-based without imposing any real constraints on the political negotiations. The Scientific Committee has recommended that catch limits be calculated using the RMP, and has done so for three whale populations (fin and minke whales in the North Atlantic, and Bryde’s whales in the North Pacific). In all but one case these limits are lower than the numbers in Table 4 of the Chair’s proposal. For the remaining populations, the Committee has recommended that RMP catch limits be calculated as soon as possible. The proposed regulation system including a DNA database would not allow the independent determination of whether whale products on sale are from legitimised whaling or not. Japan has never co-operated by providing DNA profiles to independent researchers studying whale meat on sale in Japan, and the current proposal will not change this. There is therefore a serious risk of illegal whaling and trade continuing due to inadequate enforcement measures. The proposal envisages a new type of whaling, not currently in the Convention, which is not for local consumption and does not include catch limits based on scientific advice. The proposal explicitly does not address the long-term, being limited in its effect to 10 years and so cannot guarantee long-term conservation benefits. These aspects of the proposal are directly contrary to the agreed EU position. 2 There are 25 EU members of the IWC. Since 2008, these countries have coordinated their position with the aim of improving the conservation status of whales. In summary, the proposal attempts to solve the problems of whaling outside of international control by legitimising total global catch limits close to the levels chosen by the whaling industries in the countries currently whaling. At the same time the proposal suspends other conservation measures established by the IWC, including the moratorium and Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. By marginalising scientific input, the proposal would also allow catch levels from several whale populations that would not be safely sustainable.

Further technical information on each of the above matters is available on request.

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The EU common position requires member states to oppose new types of whaling unless these involve only local consumption, guarantee long-term conservation benefits and incorporate scientific advice.

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