52nd IWC Meeting Positice for Japan

Weekly update of news from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries


The 52nd Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its Scientific Committee was held in Adelaide, Australia, from June 12 through July 6. Despite Australia's strong antiwhaling policies, several positive results were achieved.

Resolutions adopted reflected the IWC's balanced and judicious stance on environmental issues. Of particular note,a resolution to accelerate completion of the Revised Management Scheme (RMS) was adopted, meaning that the RMS could be implemented as early as next year's annual meeting, thereby setting sustainable catch limits for whale stocks that are not in danger.Another resolution adopted reaffirmed the IWC's commitment to alleviating the distress the moratorium has caused Japan's coastal whaling communities.

The meeting also gave Japan a chance to demonstrate its world-class scientific research concerning whales and their ecosystems. Japan's new research program focuses on the interaction between whales and fisheries and includes work that addresses recommendations made by the Scientific Committee of the IWC. This well-planned and comprechensive research stimulated extensive review and discussion. Japan expressed its willingness to accept constructive scientific comments in the interest of improving the quality of its research. Japan also urged environmental groups to respect the legal status of the research, which is conducted in accordance with Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and to refrain from extreme and violent protests that endanger lives.

The meeting rejected a proposal to establish a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. Japan criticized the proposal for failing to distinguish between endangered and abundant species, and took the position that the establishment of such a sanctuary would hurt fisheries management because there is growing evidence that overprotection of whales can disrupt the ecosystem by encouraging predation by the whales. Japan will oppose the sanctuary proposal if Australia decides to continue lobbying for it.

It was decided that the 53rd Annual Meeting will be held in London from July 2 through 27, 2001. Japan extended an offer to host the 54th Annual Meeting at Shimonoseki, which was accepted over an offer from New Zealand.

All participants in the meeting expressed their thanks to retiring IWC chairman Mr. Michael Canny for his leadership during the past three years, and for guiding the IWC through some difficult discussions.The participants also commended retiring IWC member Dr. Ray Garnbell on his 24 years of service and wished him well in his future endeavors.

For more information, please contact the Far Seas Fisheries Division of the Fisheries Agency at (03)3502-2443.

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