Major step to Banning Oceans Slaughter

A new anti-whaling declaration signed by southern hemisphere nations is a major step toward banning the slaughter of whales in southern oceans, a New Zealand diplomat said Friday.

Speaking after a 13-nation anti-whaling declaration was issued following a Nov. 7-8 meeting in Argentina, commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer said a new southern hemisphere bloc of states committed to whale conservation is developing.

“This is a step toward (a southern hemisphere moratorium on whale killing), no question,” he told The Associated Press.

“This is a … politically significant development of a bloc emerging that is anti-whaling, antiscientific whaling and pro-conservation,” he said.

Some of the Latin American states in the group were not International Whaling Commission members, he added.

Palmer’s comments come as a Japanese whaling fleet sails toward Antarctic waters on its annual hunt for whales under Japan’s scientific whale kill program.

This year’s scientific research program into the sea mammals will see a doubling of the normal kill to at least 1,000. Critics and anti-whaling nations argue that scientific whaling — in which a limited number of whales are killed for research purposes and their meat is later sold — is little more than commercial whaling in disguise.

Japan, where whale meat is popular, has been heavily criticized by anti-whaling groups.

“Whaling nations come to the southern hemisphere to catch whales and they take no notice of the opinion in the southern hemisphere or in Latin America. This is going to change,” Palmer said.

The so-called Buenos Aires Declaration also called on states to promote whale sanctuaries in the South Atlantic and South Pacific oceans, condemns scientific whale killing and supports the retention of the current IWC moratorium on commercial whaling.

Palmer said southern nations have been working for years to create whale sanctuaries across in their hemisphere, but have failed because such sanctuaries require 75 percent support to amend IWC rules.

“The strong view of the meeting was against the lethal use of cetaceans,” he said.

“If we get more nations joining from South America and we keep this momentum going we’ve got a better chance of achieving our goals than we’ve had before,” he added.

Southern hemisphere nations represented at the meeting were: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, South Africa, and Uruguay. Spain was the sole northern hemisphere nation present.

Source: Mainichi Daily News (Japan)/AP