Norway Considers Leaving Whaling Commission
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) _ Pro-whaling Norway said Thursday it will consider quitting the International Whaling Commission in frustration at what it considers the group’s domination by conservationist nations.
The 38-member commission weighed a plan to set commercial whaling quotas Thursday but put off any action until the closing day of its meeting on Friday. Since the commission shows no sign of lifting a moratorium on whaling ordered in 1982, no quotas are likely to be set soon.
Norway announced Monday that it would resume commercial whaling next spring in defiance of the moratorium. Iceland, another supporter of resuming whaling, withdrew from the commission Monday, but said it had no immediate plans to start hunting whales again.
In response, the United States, Australia, Finland, Germany and Switzerland backed a resolution seeking additional safeguards to protect whales.
Popular support for whaling is strong in Norway, Iceland and Japan, which have a tradition of catching and eating whale. Japan and Norway also want to regain whaling industry jobs and profits.
Japan plans to abide by the international moratorium, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said in response to a question Thursday at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington.
The whaling nations are dismayed by U.S.-led efforts to link approval of the commission’s commercial whaling quotas with still-to-be developed rules for counting whale stocks and new observation and inspection procedures.
″This is a further stalling tactic,″ Norwegian commissioner Jan Arvesen said Thursday. ″The signals are so strong that many of these countries don’t want commercial whaling ever to resume.″
″Withdrawal from the IWC now must be seriously considered,″ he said.
The 46-year-old commission, which has no enforcement powers, has spent more than five years working on a plan to conserve whale stocks by setting harvest quotas.
Norway has indicated it will use the management plan, regardless of whether it is approved, to determine how many of the estimated 86,700 minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic it will kill.
On Thursday, activists with the environmental group Greenpeace chained themselves to the door of the Norwegian ambassador’s residence in Paris for an hour to protest Norway’s intended hunt.
″There is no word for this but hunting piracy,″ said Marjolaine Souquet, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace France, contending that scientific studies indicate minke whales are still endangered.
The commission’s scientists have said there are enough minke whales in the North Atlantic and Antarctic waters to sustain limited whaling.
In other action, the commission decided to continue a whale sanctuary in the Indian Ocean until 2002.