Netherlands must take strong position against whale hunting lobby

14 June 2006

Netherlands must take strong position against whale hunting lobby

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets tomorrow in in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. The Netherlands must join Great Britain, Australia and Germany in strongly opposing countries attempting to undermine the ban on whaling. Instead, the Dutch government chooses to wrap itself in a fog of conciliatory words.

The Netherlands does not want to ban the hunt but to regulate it. This will not, however, solve the problem of those countries which do not want such a ban. The SP calls on the minister responsible, Cees Veerman, to give up his bridge-building role at today's meeting and instead take a strong position against the whale-hunting countries' lobby.

Despite the current ban, whale hunting is already of disastrous proportions. Since the ban on commercial whale fishing came into force in 1986, world-wide more than 25.000 whales have been killed. Every year this figure is increased by the activities of the whale-hunting countries. All this is occurring at a time when the size of the whales' populations is of huge importance to their survival as species in the world's polluted seas. The resumption of the hunt by Iceland has led to enormous resistance, partly because of the popularity of “whale watching” amongst tourists keen to see different species of these impressive aquatic mammals. Tourism inspired by the whales is much more lucrative to local populations in both poor and rich countries than is the hunt.

The number of participants in the IWC is increasing, not because an increasing number of countries is sympathetic to the plight of the whales, but because small countries are being bribed to lend their support to countries such as Japan. This means that for the first time a majority exists in the IWC which is in favour of commercial whale hunting. This is why the Netherlands' position, which sees a solution in, amongst other things, a so-called Revised Management Scheme, far from being constructive, is in fact disastrous.

One task of such a management scheme is the specification of the numbers of whales which can be taken. The Netherlands believes that a formally accepted quota would result in Japan, Norway and Iceland once more paying heed to the IWC and that as a consequence fewer whales would die. This is exxtremely naive. Despite the passage since 1987 of twenty resolutions calling for an end to whaling, Japan and Norway continue to hunt whales in undiminished numbers.

Condeming the government's position, SP Member of Parliament Krista Van Velzen said: “The Netherlands' stance has always been that of a bridge-builder between the two sides. Through fears that countries such as Japan would walk out of the IWC, feeble compromises have been agreed such as those allowing hunting for scientific purposes, as well as management plans. Minister Cees Veerman must understand that the whale-hunting countries will never be persuaded in this way. Because of this, tough ultimatums and strong positions are needed. If the Netherlands really wants to protect whales, then our representatives should be speaking out now against the management scheme and against allowing hunting for scientific purposes.”

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