IMMP responds to Norwegian whaling claims
The International Marine Mammal Project
Because of the international pressures being put on Norway to end it's yearly minke hunts, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has produced a pamphlet (Some Questions About Norwegian Minke Whaling) in which they make a number of claims to try and support the hunts:
- Norway claims that the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has unanimously concluded that this stock (the minke whale) almost certainly numbers between 61,000 and 117,000 animals with the best available estimate being 87,000 animals.
- IMMP notes that, not only have environmental groups questioned these figures, but members of the IWC have also questioned the figures. The environmental community, and some IWC members, question the Norwegian whale population estimates because all research and calculations were done by Norwegian officials without any review from outside scientists.
- Until recently, Norway has consistenly used the 87,000 number to justify its hunts. They claimed that because of the figures it was clear that the stock was large enough to support a limited harvest.
- IMMP reports, however, that startling new evidence has surfaced that Norway's whale population estimates have, in fact, been grossly exaggerated and that its formulas for calculating populations contain numerous errors. A special meeting of the IWC's Scientific Committee recently examined the data, and even Norway's own scientists have been forced to admit the errors. In April, the Norwegian government reduced its estimate of the minke whale population by more than 20 percent to 69,600. Further review may show that even this estimate is far too high. Also, because of this revision, the Fisheries Ministry has reduced this year's whale kill quota from 301 to 232 whales. In fact, only 30,000 whales may exist which would grant a zero quota.
- Norway claims that it's whaling is carried out in accordance with the the international agreements that are relevent to whaling. These are the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which sets the framework for the activities of the IWC. They go on to say that Norway plays a leading role in binding international cooperation on environmental protection and resource management.
- IMMP points out, however, that they are in fact directly contradicting this claim as there has been, and still exists, a global moratorium on whaling. Since the Norwegian government has allowed whale hunts for the past two years, they have in fact been violating an international environmental agreement. Also, now that Norway has defied the international community on this issue, they have let the proverbial genie out of the bottle. Norwegian whalers now say that unless they recieve full financial compensation of $8,500 (1,565 kroner) per whale for the reduction in the planned quota, they will kill all 301 whales, in defiance of both the IWC ban and the Norwegian government limits.
- Finally, Norway claims that the most important argument in favour of whaling is the principle that states have a right to utilize their renewable natural resources on a scientific basis.
- Nations have a right to determine their own affairs, but not in violation of international treaties that they have signed on to. If Norway is permitted to violate the commercial whaling ban and base their catch on inaccurate whale population data, there will be little to prevent Japan, Iceland, and a host of other countries from doing the same. This precedent could cause the entire IWC moratorium to crumble. It would also set a dangerous precedent globally if countries are allowed to back out of environmental treaties and agreements if they just don't feel like honoring them anymore.
Whales in Danger Information Service