FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No Repeal of Whaling Ban

by ANTHONY DiMAGGIO

A five-day International Whaling Commission conference in Morocco failed to produce an agreement that would authorize hunting whales in national and international waters.  Anti-whaling countries were defiant in their opposition to initiatives aimed at legitimizing whale hunting in the name of “conservation.”  Whaling has been banned internationally for 24 years, but this did not stop countries like Japan, Norway, and Iceland from defying the ban – by claiming various loopholes to and exemptions from the 1986 ban.

Pro-whaling states decided to give up on pushing for a repeal of the ban in the Morocco meeting in light of resistance from the European Union and Latin American countries, among many others.  The repeal was originally promoted by the United States, with Obama breaking a campaign promise that he would support the whaling ban if elected.  The failure to break the ban was the subject of stern lectures by U.S. newspapers, whose reporters claimed that the attempted repeal of whaling prohibition was in reality an effort to protect whales.  The New York Times, for example, reported that the failure to repeal the whaling ban will “leave management of whale populations in the hands of hunters.  A compromise plan…would have allowed the three countries (Norway, Iceland, and Japan) to resume commercial whaling but at significantly lower levels and under tight monitoring.”  The Washington Post similarly reported that the failed repeal will effectively “leave management of the population of the world’s largest animals essentially in the hands of whale hunters.”

Reporting in the U.S. press is starkly contrasted to that in Britain, where the Independent of London summarized that the failure to repeal the ban is a “victory for anti-whaling campaigners…the controversial attempt to scrap the 24 year old international moratorium in commercial whaling collapsed…to the frustration of Japan, Norway, and Iceland, the three countries which continue to hunt whales in defiance of world opinion.”

Reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post have relied on false portrayals of the Morocco meeting and the whaling ban on multiple levels.  Both papers failed to report on the scientific findings, discovered by researchers at Stanford and Harvard University, and reported in the journal Science, that global humpback and great whale populations “are too low to resume commercial hunting.”  Both papers also inaccurately suggest that Japan, Norway, and Iceland are reliant upon a new international agreement in order to set a lower quota for whale hunting, or end hunting altogether.  The claim that the failure to repeal the ban leaves control over whaling “in the hands of whale hunters” is inaccurate.  The 1986 whaling ban passed by the International Whaling Commission relies upon voluntary compliance of supporting states for its implementation.  In reality, then, there is nothing to currently stop whaling countries from reducing their hunting at any time.  The International Whaling Commission retains no authority to either reward or punish countries that enforce or violate the ban.

Contrary to the claims of pro-whaling countries, the attempt to repeal the ban has nothing to do with each state’s ability to reduce whaling quotas or end whaling altogether.  Repealing the ban is meant simply to provide pro-whaling countries with the international legitimacy they desire in light of the decline of whale populations.  As is well understood throughout the world, the 1986 ban merely cemented the earlier 1966 global whaling moratorium to end the hunting in light of dwindling whale populations and the entrance of numerous species onto the endangered species list.  Significantly, whaling catches had fell to well below ten thousand a year by 1985 from a high of 70,000 a year in the 1960s.

This downward trend in killings following the 1966 and 1986 bans, however, was marginalized by the New York Times when it recently reported that “more than 33,000 whales have been killed since the ban took effect in 1986, undermining the [International Whaling] commission in the eyes of critics.”

A repeal on the whaling ban will likely lead to a tremendous increase in whaling, not a reduction or “controlled” hunting.  Businesses within countries currently restricted by the ban would be free to engage in whaling, causing an expansion in the number of hunters and markets reliant upon whaling.  This reality should be remembered when one reflects upon the motivations of officials in Japan, Iceland, Norway, and the United States.  Norway’s “quotas” for whale hunters have steady increased from near zero in 1990 to nearly one thousand by 2010.  Whale hunting countries, then, have no intention of using a repeal to push for “conservation” or “moderation” in whaling.  They want to use it to provide cover for their increased reliance upon the whaling industry.

There is much to celebrate in the defeat of the whaling repeal.  Whaling countries have failed in their public relations attempts to provide cover for their unsustainable hunting.  At a time when scientists are discussing dwindling whale populations, pro-whaling countries should not be allowed to deceive and manipulate the global public.  The justifications offered for the repeal were rightly rejected throughout most of the world, and this represents a major victory – not a defeat – for conservation.

ANTHONY DiMAGGIO is the editor of media-ocracy. He is the author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda (2008) and When Media Goes to War . He can be reached at: mediaocracy@gmail.com

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2015). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail