The International Whaling Commission (IWC) had its annual meeting last week. There were some victories for whales, some defeats and several countries very upset with how the commission ruled on their individual cases. Once more, a few countries were looking to expand the quotas of whales they are allowed to hunt each year or get those quotas renewed for another period. The main offenders, of course, were Japan and Denmark.
Japan wanted permission to start whaling activities off of their coast in a more official manner than the current means of hunting whales for food under the guise of scientific research. This proposal was denied and Japan responded by threatening to drop out of the organization altogether.
The story with Denmark was quite similar. Despite the fact that it has already been determined that they have a high enough quota to fulfill their native population’s traditional whaling needs in Greenland and the rather unsavory revelation that much of that quota was ending up in restaurants and grocery stores illegally, they still requested more. They were denied, of course, and their representative followed suit with Japan in threatening to drop out of the IWC.
On the other side of the coin, Monaco was actually pushing for increased protections. Unfortunately, they were unable to gather enough popular support and so their proposal failed. They were about as pleased with the result as Japan and Denmark and threatened to take the matter to the United Nations. Alaska, Russia and the Caribbean had an easier time of it and got their rather small quotas renewed for another six years.
One of the biggest sources of tension at the meeting, that of South Korea’s request for their own “scientific research” quotas, proved to be easier than the others. As it turns out, South Korea has opted to drop their whaling plans and no judgment was needed. The end result was mostly success for the IWC, and even if no progress toward further protections was made, at least no steps backward were taken.