According to the International Whaling Convention's foundation document (retrieved from http://www.iwcoffice.org/commission/convention.htm this morning, 13/3/10), the objective of the IWC is to protect all whale species from overhunting, establish "a system of international regulation for the whale fisheries to ensure proper conservation and development of whale stocks", through the supervision of the International Whaling Commission. The Convention's aim is to allow whale numbers to increase, but it also gives the governments of signatory powers the right to carry out scientific research which involves the killing of whales - in 1986, the IWC completely banned all commercial whaling in order to allow whale stocks to replenish themselves. (Interestingly, this was the same year in which the fourth Star Trek feature film, The Voyage Home, was released, featuring a ship of unknown origin which, it turned out, was piloted by whales searching for their interstellar brethren on Earth! Thus saving the whales became an issue of intergalactic importance.) Originally signed by 15 nations, including NZ, the IWC now has 43 members.
The problem is that the loophole allowing for scientific research has been exploited to the point of insanity. According to figures presented by the NZ Prime Minister in his address on whaling,
During the previous 20 years, whaling quotas have increased ten fold, from 300 in 1990 to 3,000 for 2010 (http://www.johnkey.co.nz/archives/904-John-Key-statement-on-whaling.html)Clearly this is not sustainable. Clearly, the current system is not working. Clearly, something needs to be done.
Some environmentalists, concerned that nothing was being done to stop the slaughter, decided to protest on the high seas against whaling in all its forms. Greenpeace and other associated organisations which oppose whaling completely (ie even if there were 100 million whales in the sea they would still oppose hunting) launched a small fleet to tail the Japanese 'scientific expeditions' on their annual whale hunts. We're used to seeing this on the news. What we were not used to, until recently, was the increasingly dangerous activity pursued by groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This group has been blatantly ignoring the rules of the sea and putting its own crews and vessels, not to mention those of the Japanese, in danger. This culminated in a collision between the Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil and the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No 2 in the Southern Ocean on Wednesday 6 January 2010. Following this, the Ady Gil's captain, Pete Bethune, illegally boarded the Shonan Maru in an attempt to present a bill for the damages to his ship, which sank as a result of the collision, and to place the Japanese captain under citizen's arrest. When that failed, he then demanded to be put ashore in NZ. Yesterday, on his arrival in Japan, he was arrested by Japanese authorities.
Make no mistake, Sea Shepherd has its heart in the right place. But what the organisation is condoning is basically the 21st century equivalent of piracy on the high seas. They are nothing more than eco-terrorists. For those who would say that my use of this term is biased and clearly indicates an opposition towards the SSCS, take a look at these pictures:
http://creativelogik.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/sea-shepherd-success/ - boasting about how many ships this society has sunk.
http://thisiswhitey.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/joining-forces/ - the Jolly Roger derivative used by the SSCS vessels.
Prime Minister John Key has copped a lot of flak from environmentalists and their brainwashed adherents in the past week or so, simply because he suggested a diplomatic solution to the problem. His intention is that at the next meeting of the IWC NZ propose that the scientific research loophole be completely closed, in return for an annual quota set by the IWC for Japan to legitimately hunt. The loony liberal fringe immediately leapt to its feet and accused the National government of wanting to legalise commercial whaling again, but, as usual, they completely missed the point. Diplomatic discussion and compromise are the only way forward. Japan already feels that it is being unneccesarily picked on by the Antipodean nations, and without diplomatic negotiations the official attitude between the nations will harden. Japan is a major export and import partner for NZ, and many Japanese tourists come here every year, providing a huge cash injection for the NZ economy. While it would be wrong to put profits ahead of the survival of a species, it would also be wrong to not try and ensure a healthy relationship between our nations.
The NZ Herald and Dominion Post both contributed some interesting articles on the plan for negotiation in the past few days:
Over recent years the loony "liberal" left has become increasingly hostile to debate and compromise. It is their way or the highway. They reject democratic dialogue, and while they demand that they should have the right to speak and be heard, they often deny others that same right. This is not democracy. This is not even liberal. The hijacking of the Green movement worldwide by the remnants of various Western socialist and communist parties has been well documented, and is clearly obvious here in NZ when one examines the credentials and track records of the current leadership of the Green Party. It is no longer an environmental group, it is simply a new guise for an old foe - Comintern has reinvented itself and gone deep under cover. Perhaps the colourblind have an advantage over the rest of us - to them, red and green appear the same...