The 61st IWC Meeting, Madeira, Portugal

Eco, 2009 Volume LXI - Part 1

Hogarth Deal Harpooned by Japan Whalers

Japan has (not for the first or for the last time) blown up negotiations conducted for the past two years by the IWC and the Small Working Group. And so, the “Hogarth Deal” appears at an end.

Background: Secret Dirty Deals

Almost two years ago, Dr. William Hogarth, an appointee of US President George W. Bush to head the National Marine Fisheries Service and voted in as Chairman of the IWC, began secret talks with the Japan Fisheries Agency to “solve” the “impasse” at the IWC between whaling and anti-whaling nations.

To the consternation of NGOs, the Hogarth Deal was predicated on allowing Japan to legally kill whales in their home waters (so-called Cultural Coastal Whaling), a long-term goal of Japan’s Fisheries Agency, in exchange for supposedly reducing Japan’s killing of whales under scientific permit in the Antarctic. Allowing Japan Coastal Whaling would mean an end to the 20-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling. Furthermore, the Hogarth Deal did not do anything about other nations’ illegal whaling – Iceland and Norway commercially kill whales in defiance of the moratorium, and South Korea expressed interest in resuming commercial whaling and getting their own deal with the IWC, as likely would some other nations. On top of that, Japan’s Fisheries Agency already issues annual permits to kill 23,000 dolphins in Japan’s waters. Size doesn’t matter – killing dolphins is coastal whaling!

This deal was totally unacceptable, but NGOs were not in the room with the secret negotiators.

Rome Intersessional

The “Hogarth Deal” was finally made public during an intersessional meeting of the IWC in March in Rome. But the deal had zero specificity. It stated that Japan would conduct coastal commercial whaling, but provided no numbers of whales that they would slaughter. Furthermore, there were no numbers at all on how many whales Japan would continue to slaughter in the Southern Ocean.

Instead, two options were offered, one that stated scientific whaling would be reduced by an unspecified number in the Southern Ocean, and another that such scientific whaling would be phased out entirely. But Japan’s Fisheries Minister, before the Rome meeting even got started, came out stating that Japan would never end scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean. Reportedly, the IWC Small Working Group of nations doing the actual closed-door negotiations met right after the Rome meeting and could not reach any new decisions for more specificity.

Hogarth Deal Explodes in Secret

Rumor is that just two months ago, the Small Working Group of the IWC convened once again in San Francisco to finalize the Hogarth Deal, due to be made public on May 18th and voted into effect during the current June 22-26 IWC meeting in Madeira.

At the meeting, Japan, to participant’s amazement, brought out their list of numbers of whales they expected to kill under the Hogarth Deal. The other nations were astonished at the Japan Fisheries Agency’s audacity in the shear bloodshed they were contemplating. Essentially, they proposed to kill virtually the same number of whales in the Southern Ocean that they had killed last season - no significant reduction in whaling, while the coastal slaughter would be legalized, too. The Hogarth Deal could not be agreed to by anyone.

This was followed by the European Union agreeing to vote as a bloc at the IWC, pushing for an end to scientific whaling and maintaining the moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan, in retaliation, completed their own meeting of its (well-paid) client countries, and announced they too would vote as a bloc at the IWC meeting. Voting in blocs will preclude the consensus to sell-out the whales sought by Chairman Hogarth for the past two years.

Japan’s Strategy

It is very clear what Japan’s strategy is now. Of course, they never intended to work out any compromise that would curtail their whaling efforts. Japan is intent on expanding its whaling, purely for ideological reasons. (Whale meat in Japan is not selling, and the entire “industry” is now completely subsidized by Japanese taxpayers.)

The Japan Fisheries Agency waited until the last minute to deliberately end the negotiations in secret. This will allow the Japanese Fisheries Agency, surrounded by their well-bribed client nations, to cry “poor me” at the upcoming public meetings of the IWC in Madeira, claiming rich countries are to blame for not supporting Japan and conducting cultural and racial discrimination against Japan.

And of course, Japan will continue to kill whales, trade in whale meat, and likely expand their killing effort to include humpback whales in the Southern Ocean.

Once again, the Bush Administration’s sorry record of botched international negotiations have completely and utterly back-fired, resulting in far more damage to the US than if the US had been totally straight in the first place.

However, this is not the final end of the “Hogarth Deal.” William Hogarth, a Bush appointee, is still head of the US delegation, is still Chairman of the IWC, and still wants a deal - likely any deal at this point. Like Dr. Frankenstein, you can be sure negotiators are feverishly trying to revive the “Hogarth Deal” so it can be ready to pass regardless of how many whales are sacrificed.

One does not need to be Nostradamus to understand that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has repeatedly negotiated in bad faith at the IWC and will do so again.

Japan’s Whaling – There’s a Catch

Most readers of ECO will, I imagine, know about papers published recently by P. Clapham and co-authors following up the revelations by Alexey V. Yablokov in the mid-1990s with other Russian and Ukrainian scientists on the falsification on a huge scale of statistics of whale catches in the Soviet period. An English translation of a remarkable manuscript by the eminent Russian scientist, the late Dr Fred Berzin, detailing some of these transgressions during the history of Soviet whaling, has also recently been published.

Fewer will be aware that Japan has a history of falsifying the catch statistics of “small-type whaling”, large-type baleen and sperm whaling from land-stations, but no data have published regarding the catches reported by pelagic expeditions. This is all detailed in seven published papers by several authors, both Japanese and foreign. Because the Revised Management Procedure, accepted by the Commission but not yet implemented, relies on catch data, the under-reporting of past catches leads inevitably to unjustifiably higher catch limits calculated by using it. This is not a mere historical footnote; past falsifications will thus affect any temporary catch limits that might be set under various “deals” being discussed by some officials and governments.

This should make it entirely unacceptable that discussions have been held in and around the IWC’s Small Working Group, which envisaged, among other things, granting Japan arbitrary catch limits for some species in the NW Pacific in return for some hypothetical limitation of Japan’s expansion of “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic. Regardless of any desire to make the IWC “functional” again, it should be unthinkable that, at this time in the negotiation of conservation measures for the great whales, any catch limits could be contemplated without a full compliance regime being locked in place. In particular, that this should be done without at least applying the agreed, if not formally adopted, Revised Management Procedure (RMP) for baleen whales for the calculation of appropriate precautionary numbers, even on a provisional basis. And, by the way, throughout the entire history of the IWC’s ineffective management of whaling, numbers labeled as “provisional” have without exception mutated into “repeated” and “continuing”.


“The Truth about Soviet Whaling: A Memoir” by Alfred A. Berzin. Translated by Yulia Ivashchenko. Marine Fisheries Review (NOAA, USA) Special Issue 70(2): 1-59, 2008.

“A Whale of a Deception” by P. Clapham and Y. Ivashchenko. Marine Fisheries Review 71: 44-52, 2009.

“Catches of Humpback Whales by the Soviet Union and other nations in the Southern Ocean, 1947-1973” by P. Clapham et al, Marine Fisheries Review 71: 39-43, 2009.

A series of papers by various authors, including T. Kasuya, R. L. Brownell Jr, H. Kato, K. C. Balcomb III, C. A. Goebel, I. Kondo and S. Ohsumi, most of which have been published by IWC or were made available to the Scientific Committee and are in the IWC archive as submitted documents considered in the context of Comprehensive Assessments.

– Dr. Sidney Holt

More Whale Meat Going to Japan

Trade in whale meat is not authorized either by the IWC nor CITES, but the trade continues, nonetheless.

Like the expansion of so-called “scientific” whaling, the trade in whale meat is escalating. And Japan, not surprisingly, is the global importer of all those dead whales.

  • On 2 April 2009, the Norwegian CITES authority issued export permits for two shipments of whale products, totaling 47 tons, to Japan;
  • The head of the Icelandic fin whaling industry, Kristj‡n Loftsson, publicly announced his intention to export the meat from all fin whales caught under Iceland’s 2009 whaling quota, a whopping 6,000 tonnes of meat and blubber from 150 fin whales;
  • The head of the Icelandic Minke Whalers’ Association has said it intends to export at least 50 tons of minke whale meat to Japan.

Trade in whale meat must be stopped, or the devastating erosion of the IWC’s authority will continue.

A Little Bit of History

This year, with the IWC navel-gazing, seeking its more functional future, may be time for a little bit of history:

I was recently honored by several hundred participants at the First International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas, held in Maui, Hawaii, 30/3-3/4 2009, as “The Father of MPAs for Cetaceans”. I thought that was a bit over the top! The real Granddaddy was an eminent international lawyer, an Argentinean, Sr. José Leon Su‡rez. This year is the eightieth Anniversary of his proposal to the League of Nations that a large Sanctuary for the Great Whales be established in the Antarctic zone of the Southern Ocean.

Ten years later all whaling nations except Japan had recognized this need, but the necessary legal provision had to await the end of the Second World War, when it was incorporated in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling 1946. The first meeting of the IWC was held in 1949, that is twenty years after Su‡rez, and a part of his dream was fulfilled when The Sanctuary for baleen whales in the Southeastern Pacific sector was incorporated in the original Schedule to the ICRW. When Japan entered the IWC, in 1950, its delegation immediately began lobbying for the abolition of The Sanctuary (and it has continued to press for the abolition of ALL sanctuaries). The limited protection it had given from pelagic factory-ship whaling was suspended one year after another and finally abolished in 1955.

So 2009 is not a bad year to be celebrating multi-decadal anniversaries of MPAs for whales. It is the thirtieth anniversary of the IUCN Workshop on Cetacean Sanctuaries, held in Mexico, which was quickly followed by the IWC’s “delivery” of the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in 1979. Dr Lyall Watson, Alternate IWC Commissioner for the Republic of Seychelles, was a co-parent of that pregnancy, which was a lot shorter than that needed to produce a whale calf. And the IOWS had a whole raft of midwives and foster parents among whom President Albert René of Seychelles, Sir Peter Scott, Dr Silvia Earle and Prince Shahram Palhavi-nia of Iran were prominent. It took another 15 years to complete the 1979 action by extending sanctuary southward from 55¡S to the Antarctic ice-edge.

After this meeting of the IWC in Madeira, the IOWS anniversary is being celebrated at an international Indian Ocean Whale Symposium being held in The Maldives, 18-20 July. Dr Charles Anderson is the driving force of this event and Chair of the IOCS Convening Committee. I have contributed a keynote account of the details of the 1979 action. – Dr. Sidney Holt

Japan Sells Protected Minke Whale Meat

A new report out demonstrates that substantial amounts of meat from the supposedly protected J Stock of minke whales is being sold in Japanese markets.

This is the same stock of minke whales that the government of Japan has pushed for years to open up commercial “small-type coastal” whaling.

In a paper presented to the Scientific Committee last week, V. Lukoschek and his co-authors sampled whale meat in stores in Japan, finding that fully 44% of the meat sampled comes from the J Stock of minke whales, ostensibly protected since 1986. A separate analysis suggested as much as 46.1% of all minke whale meat sampled in store comes from the depleted J Stock.

The scientists estimated that, while some “bycatch” of J Stock minke whales are used for food, far more minke whales from this stock were being killed than reported.

This illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) kill of minke whales raises grave doubts about current protection efforts for the J Stock and further undermines the Japanese claims that a “small-type coastal” commercial hunt of minke can be conducted by the Japanese government without further harming the J Stock status.

Japan: No Good Faith

During the past two years of negotiations with Japan to achieve the Hogarth Deal, Japan has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for the process and for the majority of the IWC countries by:

  • Pursuing its so-called “Scientific” whaling scheme full-bore in the Antarctic.
  • Accepting 77 tons of whale meat imported from Iceland and Norway.
  • Continuing so-called “scientific” whaling in the North Pacific, which includes killing coastal whales.
  • Continuing to kill over 20,000 coastal dolphins and small cetaceans in the cruelest manner imaginable.
  • Refusing to label or remove toxic dolphin and whale meat from their markets, effectively poisoning their own people without a health warning.

ECO observes that this cannot be construed as “negotiating in good faith.”

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