Outdoors, action, adventure

« Previous Post | Outposts Home | Next Post »

Hillary Clinton to visit Japan, but can she save the whales?

February 3, 2009 | 10:57 am

Pacific gray whale surfaces for air beyond Santa Catalina Island.

News item: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering visiting Japan during her first overseas trip in her official capacity.

Reaction: Perhaps she can sample some whale meat to see what the fuss is about regarding Japan's insistence on killing the docile mammals despite global opposition.

But seriously, this business of killing whales seems to be increasingly turning sour, for whales and whale lovers.

The International Whaling Commission has reportedly proposed two compromise packages to try to end the ongoing debate on scientific whaling (Japan's killing is performed under a "lethal research" loophole in a 1986 IWC moratorium).

The plans would either phase out Japan's annual scientific whaling program in the Antarctic, but allow Japan to begin commercial hunts off its own coast; or allow Japan's scientific whaling effort to continue in the Antarctic if it adheres to annual limits set by the IWC.

The IWC is to be commended for addressing the issue, but why not just close the scientific loophole and let Japan act in violation of the moratorium if it insists on killing whales for meat that is not nearly as popular as it once was among Japanese consumers?

Said Leigh Henry of the World Wildlife Fund: "WWF applauds this process in as much as it demonstrates the IWC's willingness to take steps toward ending the deadlock on commercial whaling, but these particular measures will not be sufficient to conserve these species, and without international protection, whales face a bleak future."

Neither plan deals with two other whaling nations: Iceland and Norway. Iceland, as noted by Outposts, last week announced plans to sharply increase its kill quota to 150 fin whales and 100 minke whales annually through 2013.

Wonder what Hillary thinks about that?

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Pacific gray whale surfaces for air beyond Santa Catalina Island. Credit: Pete Thomas/Los Angeles Times