supporting resumption of commercial
On 20th June, 2005 of the 57th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Ulsan, Korea, Oh Geo-done, the head of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries stated his support for the resumption of commercial whaling. He stated that Korea is a traditional fisheries country and that agrees with the sustainable use of whale resources for rational and scientific reasons. He stated that the Korean government agrees with the removal of paragraph 10-e, which is the clause which sets the current moratorium on whaling, which has been in place since 1986.
His statement ignores a Korean opinion poll which found that 59.1% of Koreans opposed whaling, with 23.3% supporting whaling. There are concerns that the recent construction of a “whale museum’ and the report of the restoration of “whale meat factory” are the first step for Korean reopening whaling.
Green Korea United (GKU) is questioning the Korea government’s reference to commercial whaling as being ‘scientific and rational’. Korea has never focused studies on whale issues before, and as a result most species of large whales are disappearing. Korea had started whale hunting from 1946, and until 1997 had not conducted any scientific research on the matter. “Nobody knows how many whales are in the area, nor where the habitat is around the peninsula. It does not make sense at all to support commercial whaling. Oh, Geo-done must vote for whale protection, not whaling.” says GKU spokesperson Yujin Lee.
Japanese delegation consists of 65 people participating in the annual meeting of the IWC. They continue to argue for the adoption of RMS (Revised Management Scheme) and for the extension of their “scientific whaling” program. For example, one of the Japanese pro-whaling organizations protested in from the IWC building with a campaign card stating “we support resumption of commercial whaling on the basis of ‘scientific research'”.
Japan has admitted to the media to providing fisheries aid to African countries and small island countries in Pacific Ocean and Caribbean in return for support in this Commission.
Japan also exercises its influence over Korea. Many of the materials in the newly built whale museum have been donated by Japan. Under the rule of Japanese imperialism until the mid of 20c, whales were caught in excessive numbers in Korea. Whales are now endangered because of over hunting during that era. There are only around 100 Korean grey whales left in world. Nevertheless the Korean government continues to agree with the position of Japan on whaling.
For the first vote of the IWC, Japan put forward a proposal to remove whale sanctuaries from the agenda. This was rejected by a vote of 24 to 31. Korea voted here in favor of sanctuaries staying on the agenda. Korea also abstained during the vote over the Japanese proposal for a Revised Management Scheme, a scheme that could lead to the lifting of the moratorium on commercial whaling. This is a good step. However, on three other votes, Korea concurred with Japan.
In order for commercial whaling to resume, a 3/4 majority is needed. GKU spokesperson Yujin Lee said, “It’s a long shot but it doesn’t mean that it is impossible. If pro-whaling countries achieve majority, they would be able to change lots of things to support the Japanese position. “
GKU spokesperson Yujin Lee continued, “It is a matter of grave concern that Japan are actively pushing for the resumption of whales and Korea government are showing support with that. We cannot let Ulsan be “the grave of whales” as a result of this IWC meeting. Again we are calling for both Korea government and Japan to realize that any deal concerned with whaling can not be permitted. Korea government should oppose the removal of paragraph10-e. Japan should stop all efforts for the resumption of commercial whaling, which results in the cruel killing of whales.”
Green Korea United
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