International Whaling Commission

House of Lords written question – answered on 4th March 2009.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any of the options presented for consideration to the United Kingdom and other member nations of the International Whaling Commission on 2 February would (a) legalise Japan's catches for up to five years in the Southern Ocean sanctuary; (b) legalise Japan's catches of coastal minke whales; and (c) legalise commercial hunting by Japan of minke whales, Bryde's whales, sei whales or sperm whales in the North Pacific Ocean.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Minister of State (Sustainable Development, Climate Change Adaptation and Air Quality), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Sustainable Development, Climate Change Adaptation and Air Quality), Department for Energy and Climate Change, Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change), Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Sustainable Development, Climate Change Adaptation and Air Quality) (also in the Department for Energy and Climate Change), Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Under the terms of Article VIII of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling, Japan's lethal research takes of minke whales in the Southern Ocean and of minke, Bryde's, sei and sperm whales in the North Pacific are, regrettably, quite legal. Any decision by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to set quotas for North Pacific whale species (whether for highly localised use by the people of coastal communities in Japan who have a tradition of whaling, or for wider commercial use) would require to be framed as amendments to the schedule to the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling, and could be brought into force only by a three-quarter majority vote of those present and voting at a recognised meeting of the IWC. The intersessional IWC meeting which will take place in Rome from 9 to 11 March has no power to make such decisions.

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