THE ARCTIC COASTAL
ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, P. O. BOX 69, BARROW ALASKA 99723
TELEPHONE (907) 852-2611
Issue No:Eight______________Part 3_____________Date:December, 1977
IWC MEETING--INCREDIBLE NUMBERS GAME
The IWC meeting began on Tuesday morning in large parliamentary chambers on the 7th floor of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The delegates were met by a large group of Japanese commercial whalers who conducted an orderly demonstration in support of the restoration of Japanese sperm whale quotas. After an initial plenary session, the IWC closed its meeting to the public and got to work. A Technical Committee was appointed under the chairmanship of the Icelandic Commissioner, and this committee took on the task of drafting resolutions on the North Pacific Sperm and Bowhead whales. The resolution approving the Scientific Committee's Commercial Sperm Whale quota recommendations took about an hour, and the Technical Committee turned to the harder task of dealing with the Bowhead subsistence quota.
Under the gavel of Mr. Thordur Asgeirsson of Iceland, who impressed all by his conciliatory manner, the Technical Committee began a debate that soon made it clear that the IWC nations were generally annoyed with the United States, and that there was a greater hunger for revenge than for justice.
Although it was never advanced as an official Canadian position, Canada sought after a quota of six whales, which they said was based upon the IWC's Scientific Committee report issued from its meeting earlier in Australia. The report said that the Special Meeting has been called to discuss sperm whales and that it was felt that inadequate notice had been given to allow for substantive discussion of the bowhead; that the present bowhead population is estimated at about 1300 whales; that information on the bowhead was inadequate to provide any satisfactory guide for management of the 1300 bowhead whales with a non-zero quota; that the Committee reiterated its statement of June 1977 that taking of any bowhead whales could adversely affect the stock and prevent its eventual recovery but that the Committee recognized that the Commission may wish to discuss other considerations of subsistence and cultural needs that are beyond the expertise of the Scientific Committee Canada and other nations justified their opposition to the U.S. bowhead quota position of 15/30 on purely conservative conservationist grounds, and placed no faith in assurances from the Inupiat whalers that the 1300 population figure was grossly inaccurate. When asked why they discounted Inupiat reports of increasing numbers of bowhead, Canada and the conservationists said that they regarded the Inupiat estimates to be just as subjective and self-serving as the inaccurately high whale species population estimates made by commercial whaling ship captains.
Unable to reach any conclusion, the Technical Committee agreed to appoint a Working Group to work on the problem, and under the Chairmanship of Norway, the Commissioners from Canada, U.S., New Zealand, Denmark, USSR and the United Kingdom began drafting a bowhead resolution. However, even this working group was not able to reach agreement on a number for a new bowhead quota, and the draft resolution was given to the Technical Committee with blank spaces to be filled in by the full Committee.
By late afternoon, the full Technical Committee was able to fill in the blanks with the number 18. Eighteen whales struck. This was regarded as a decent compromise between the U.S. position and that of Canada (six taken.) When this new number of 18 was discussed with the Inupiat whalers, Hopson reluctantly agreed with this compromise, arguing that new AEWC regulations restricting the use of the shoulder gun to whales already secured to line with a harpoon would eliminate whatever struck and lost problems that might have existed, and that the U.S. need not continue the disturbing myth of large numbers of bowhead whales struck and lost that had been so slanderously developed by NOAA since 1970.
Early Monday evening, the U.S. delegation met at the U.S. Embassy to consider the Technical Committee's report and reaching agreement on the compromise figure of 18, and U.S. silently retreated from its earlier stand to hold out for restoration of subsistence exemption from IWC regulation in favor of U.S. regulation. The delegation meeting broke to enable attendance of a lavish reception at the New Otani Hotel in honor of the IWC, which had just that day restored most of Japan's sperm whale quota. The reception. lavishly hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Japan's fisheries ministry, provided a friendly atmosphere in which the bowhead whale was discussed with interest, after which several of the Commissioners wired home for new instructions.
By Wednesday morning, most of the delegations had received their instructions about the compromise figure of 18, and it began to appear that some opposition nations might be counted upon to abstain in order to make a 3/4's vote possible for the new quota to pass. The entire U.S. delegation caucused at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in a room that looked down on the Japanese Whaler's demonstrating in front of the Ministry. They had added a sound track which played an essay in English that explained in eloquent terms what they thought of the IWC, and the sound almost drowned out Bill Aron's voice as he led the meeting while Richard Frank argued with the Technical Commissioners about IWC rules for observers. It was at this meeting that Aron revealed a second fall-back position that Frank had decided to use if necessary: 15/18, fifteen whales taken or 18 struck and lost, whichever happens first. There was a howl of protest from the Alaskans who pointed out that Hopson's compromise of 18 already constituted a significant concession from the original U.S. position, and that the U.S. should hold to it. Patsy Mink settled the issue by saying that she would stay with 18. Then the U.S. delegation went through the Technical Committee's Working Group's draft bowhead resolution with its blank spaces and noticed that the last paragraph, added by Canada, restricted the Inupiat community from any increase take of Beluga Whales as a result of its decreased take of Bowhead.
The Alaskans were outraged. The IWC was organized to provide international regulation of commercial hunting of the bowhead whales, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission could at least understand the IWC's interest in bowhead subsistence whaling, but there was absolutely no basis for IWC regulation of the beluga whale which is not a great whale, and has never been commercially hunted.
The Inupiat whalers were outraged that the IWC was trying to claim jurisdiction over another subsistence hunt in violation of Inupiat subsistence hunting rights, and that this was being concurred in by the U.S. delegation.
The beluga whale is an important subsistence species hunted along the entire Arctic coastal range of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, with heavy concentration in the Mackenzie Bay where the Canadian government has begun the Arctic OCS program and where Dome Petroleum announced that one of their three deep-water exploration off Tuktoyuktuk had discovered a significant reserve of oil. When the Canadian Government decided to oppose the U.S. quota proposal, it decided to consult with the Inuit Tapirisat (Eskimo Brotherhood) of Canada (ITC). The ITC was not up to speed about the U.S./IWC plot to regulate Native subsistence whaling, but it asked the Canadian government to protect Native subsistence hunting rights, and expressed concern for increased pressure upon the beluga whale resulting from decreased take of bowhead whales.
Responding to this concern, Canada added the beluga whaling restrictions in the language resolution drafted by the Working Group Technical Committee.
As the U.S. delegation discussed Canada's move to bring the beluga under IWC jurisdiction, the Inupiat whalers learned that the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission has long advocated bringing the beluga whale under the jurisdiction of the IWC, although not a word of this had ever been mentioned to the Native community of Alaska or Canada. Hearing this, Hopson took the floor to vigorously protest this flaky attempt to extend IWC jurisdiction to a species about which there was no evidence of depletion, and which was taken only for subsistence use by Native people. The U.S. delegation agreed to work to eliminate this language from the resolution on the bowhead whale.
Following the uproar about
the beluga whale, strategy to gain support for the U.S. position was
discussed. It was agreed to ask Denmark to move the compromise figure
of 18 if the Technical Committee were to defeat the 15/30
When the Technical
Committee met later to consider the Working Group's draft resolution,
the 15/30 quota was defeated with only Argentina, Denmark, Mexico and
the U.S. voting in favor. Voting against were Australia, Canada,
Holland, New Zealand, Norway, England and the USSR. France, Iceland,
Japan and South Africa abstained. This was the key vote that revealed
the great hostility of most IWC nations toward the United States.
figure was treated with more respect. To the surprise of everyone, it
was moved by the USSR before Denmark could do so, and it passed by a
narrow margin of 7 to 6, with two abstentions. Voting against were
Australia, Canada, Iceland, Holland, Norway and England. France and
South Africa abstained. And so, the Technical Committee sent its
resolution to the full Commission calling for a bowhead subsistence
quota of 18 whales.
While the quota of 18 was able to pass the Technical Committee with just a majority vote, it would require a 3/4 vote by the full Commission. 15/30 had no chance. Richard Frank decided to fall back to his 15/18 position, and his motion to amend the Technical Committee's resolution was amended by Denmark. It failed 5 for, 3 against, with 7 abstentions. Norway, seconded by the USSR, moved to amend the resolution with a 12/18 figure. This passed with precisely the necessary 3/4 vote of 10 for, 3 against, with only two abstentions. Australia, Canada and The Netherlands voted no. Iceland and England abstained. Thus, the IWC confirmed its claim to be able to regulate Native American subsistence whaling by United States citizens, something that it had been secretly urged to do since 1970 by an axis of U.S. civil servants and the Washington, D.C. conservationist lobby. This all happened in Tokyo on December 8, 1977, another day of infamy caused by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who betrayed their Trust obligations to protect the constitutional rights of America's Inupiat community.
(The following remarks are edited from an interview with Carl Christian Olsen, taken November 14, 1977-- Ed.)
Until about 200 years ago, Greenland was completely unaffected by European contact and independent. And then, without asking anybody, the missionaries came and the colonizers put up the Danish flag.
That was the first occupation of Greenland which went on until the 1880's when Denmark sent a navy captain to east Greenland for expeditions with Greenlanders (Greenlandic Eskimos) as interpreters. When he arrived in Angmagssalik, he raised the Danish flag and said, "We have come to save you east Greenlanders from extinction!" From the early 1400's, the whole coast of Greenland had been occupied by Greenlandic Eskimos.
About 15 years later, Knud
Rasmussen came to Thule in west Greenland in an expedition. He
started a trading station and kept Thule and traded with the Thule
people for his own personal gain. He used that money for the
so-called Thule expeditions. In this situation, the Thule people
didn't get famous, but Knud Rasmussen got all the credit.