Monday, June 19, 2006

Japan Gains Key Whaling Victory

After two decades of ceaseless lobbying, campaigning, and backroom deals, Japan has won the first step in their fight for the return of commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has voted 33 to 32 in favour of the eventual return of commercial whaling.

Over the past twenty years, Japan has been working behind the scenes to bring "sympathetic" countries into the IWC by exchanging foreign aid for pro-whaling votes, as reported in The Guardian last month:
"Japan is also known to have increased aid to countries such as Belize, Mali, Togo, Gambia and others which have joined the IWC recently but who have so far not voted. Earlier this year it pledged more than $1m (£538,000) to the Pacific island of Tuvalu, a pro-whaling IWC member, and has reached similar deals with Nauru and Kiribati and other desperately poor countries in the Pacific. In the last week it is believed to have offered a large aid package to other Pacific countries. It has also invited the heads of state of seven African countries and eight Caribbean and central American countries to visit Tokyo in the last year. All are expected to vote with Japan at St Kitts."
- The Guardian, May 30th, 2006
The successful pro-whaling campaign represents a devastating loss to conservation efforts. For the past twenty years, the ban on commercial whaling has been held as a milestone for conservation efforts, a single ideal glimpse of what the world is capable of achieving for the betterment of the planet. Now, the pro-whaling minority is poised to begin dismantling the international laws and infrastructure that brought these creatures back from the brink of extinction, for the sake of a minority of consumers and the status and wealth of the kill.

Just as importantly, it represents the continued failing of democratic voice in the modern corporate dominated world. Increasingly, protest and the will of the majority is being successfully muted for the sake of advancing corporate funded aims.

Whether the issue is the killing of whales, the invasion of Iraq, or the 2004 Presidential election, public opinion and dissent is increasingly irrelevant in the major decisions of the world as existing power bases solidify their control through every means at their disposal.

For the whale populations of the world, Japan's recent 'victory' could be a catastrophic blow. Anti-whaling countries need to take immediate action in order to ensure the continued conservation of these great species. A good place to start is for Canada to join the International Whaling Commission and represent the views of the majority of Canadians that these creatures should be protected, not hunted.

Write to your elected officials and push for Canada to join the IWC and continue the ban on commercial whaling.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper - pm@pm.gc.ca

Environment Min. Rona Ambrose - Rona.Ambrose@ec.gc.ca

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay - mackap2@parl.gc.ca

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