A Bid for a Whale, and It’s About to Set Sail
Japan may have enough votes to set stage for repeal of whaling ban
The end of the 20-year-old global commercial-whaling ban is a looming possibility, as pro-whaling Japan may have garnered enough allies to win control of the 66-member International Whaling Commission. The IWC’s pro-whaling contingent now numbers about 35 countries, including some which have recently joined the IWC despite having no history of whaling or, um, a coastline. An immediate return to commercial whaling would take a 75 percent majority, but depending on who shows up to vote at the IWC meeting in St. Kitts in mid-June, Japan may push procedural changes that set the stage for a full repeal a few years down the line. Japan has been aggressively lobbying poor nations, pledging aid in a thinly veiled bribe for a pro-whaling vote. Anti-whaling countries’ lobbying efforts have been largely rebuffed. Meanwhile, Japan, which hunts whales in the name of scientific research, and Norway, which flouts the whaling ban, are glutted with unwanted whale meat.