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Pro-whaling nations win vote -

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Pro-whaling nations win vote

Reporter: Nick Grimm

KERRY O'BRIEN: Welcome to the program. And later we'll also cross to Munich to discuss the
Socceroos' World Cup campaign in the wake of last night's defeat at the hands of Brazil. But first,
20 years after it was banned by the international community, commercial whale hunting now appears
one step closer to being resumed, despite the best efforts of anti-whaling nations, including
Australia. A bloc of pro-whaling nations today narrowly won its first vote in two decades at the
International Whaling Commission meeting on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts. While the win, at
this stage, is largely symbolic, it's seen as evidence that the balance of power inside the IWC is
steadily shifting towards pro-whaling nations like Japan. Nick Grimm reports.

WILL FORD, CRUISE OPERATOR: Just getting a little bit ahead of them on the side.

WOMAN TOURIST ON CRUISE: It's completely magical when everyone first sees the whales. You know,
there's a sort of a big "Oh" goes around the boat. Yeah, it's just one of those things that's sort
of larger than life.

NICK GRIMM: At this time of year, Sydney's whale-watching fleet has little trouble finding
humpbacks swimming just off the city's coast as they undertake their northern migration. The tour
operators have little difficulty filling their boats, either. Among those hoping to get up close to
the whales are visitors from Japan.

JAPANESE WOMAN: This is the first time for me to see whales, so I was so impressed.

WILL FORD: The Japanese probably get the most excited out of all of our different passengers. I
mean, they all get excited, but the Japanese really get into it.

NICK GRIMM: In fact, while these Japanese whale spotters were enjoying their brush with nature,
half a world away their government was lobbying for the right to kill more of the animals.

SENATOR IAN CAMPBELL, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: So this is what's done in the name of science. This is
how Japan, in the name of science, collects whale meat, takes it back to Japan, sticks it in
warehouses, tries to get schoolchildren to eat it, get old people to eat it now and, of course, we
know from some evidence that they're also feeding it to dogs - all in the name of science.

NICK GRIMM: Yet, in spite of messages like that from Australia's fervently anti-whaling Environment
Minister, this year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission has seen pro-whaling nations
like Japan get closer than ever to overturning the 20-year-old ban on commercial hunting. Earlier
in the weekend, Senator Campbell had been celebrating saving the whales after narrowly defeating a
number of pro-whaling motions. But there's less cause for the Australian camp to cheer today after
the latest vote, one that reflects a significant sea change for the IWC. For the first time in 20
years, the pro-whaling nations have won by a single vote a resolution declaring that the moratorium
on commercial whaling is only a temporary measure.

JOJI MORISHITA, JAPANESE DELEGATE: My understanding is more about emotions, so-called 'public
opinion' in many countries. Maybe it's time for us to look at this issue more seriously.

NICK GRIMM: The vote won't force dramatic change in the short term because pro-whaling nations
would need the support of 75 per cent of IWC members to overturn the ban on commercial whaling.

it serves neither side's purposes properly. On the one hand, the anti-whalers are successful in
getting moratorium on whaling, but they can't stop the whaling nations from taking advantage of,
essentially, loopholes in the system to carry on whaling anyway.

NICK GRIMM: The resolution also blames whales for depleting fish stocks in the oceans and it
condemns environmental campaigners like Greenpeace for their threatening behaviour. Last summer,
Japanese whaling ships clashed with protesters in the Southern Ocean. Now, in the wake of today's
IWC vote, Danny Kennedy from Greenpeace says the organisation will intensify its campaign against

DANNY KENNEDY, GREENPEACE: They start killing humpbacks next year there won't be a whale-watching
industry up the east and west coasts of Australia in years to come.

WILL FORD: Still a long way to go before the humpbacks are fully recovered.

NICK GRIMM: Back on Will Ford's boat, a group of Japanese travel agents has been getting a taste of
the whale-watching experience. It's hoped they'll head back home and recommend it to their

WILL FORD: I don't think you can go out on a cruise like this and see the whales up close and
personal and still want to kill them and go home for a whale steak sandwich or something like that.
It's just not the way people think when they leave.

MIDDY NAKAJIMA, JAPANESE TOUR OPERATOR: For myself, I've never eaten whale meat in 30 years and I
asked also to my clients or guests or whoever, they normally don't eat.

NICK GRIMM: In fact, it seems the Japanese aren't all that keen on whale meat after all.
Traditionally, few Japanese ate it but after World War II they were encouraged to tuck in to put
more protein in their diet. Now, many younger Japanese regard it as an austerity food, sort of like
the spam of the seas.

MIDDY NAKAJIMA: In my opinion, maybe people looking at the whale, not as a food anymore.

NICK GRIMM: They're not looking at it as food anymore?


NICK GRIMM: They're looking at it as something - as a wild animal that they would like to see more

MIDDY NAKAJIMA: I think so, yeah, yeah.

NICK GRIMM: Well, if it's true that the Japanese are losing their taste for whale meat and
developing instead an appetite for whale-watching, then why is their government to keen to resume
commercial whaling? Well, the answer to that question might lie in the fact that the poor old
whales are becoming pawns in what's really a game of global politics.

ASSOC. PROF. STEVEN FREELAND: So if those countries are going to whale anyway, my argument is then
we must put in place a proper system to make sure that what they do is environmentally correct.

NICK GRIMM: Steven Freeland is an Associate Professor of international law at the University of
Western Sydney and an expert on the international enforcement of environmental laws. He believes a
compromise now needs to be found, and that might mean allowing some commercial whaling.

STEVEN FREELAND: The recriminations and the argumentation means that it could get worse, and by
that I mean, that the pro-whalers could actually decide in the end that they're so frustrated by
this process they will actually leave the Whaling Commission altogether, form some other form of
management regime and not even be bound by the moratorium.

DANNY KENNEDY: It would be a stupidity really for civilisation to go back to this old barbaric
business - which there is no demand for, I'll note, in this day and age - and actually deplete the
asset that the whale-watched business is based on.

NICK GRIMM: Certainly the idea of limited commercial whaling is one that's struggled to find
acceptance inside the vote-crunching environment of the IWC. For those getting up close to whales
in the wild, though, whale hunting may simply remain the most unpalatable of options.

WOMAN TOURIST ON CRUISE: There's no humane way to kill a whale, absolutely none. You're firing an
explosive device into the whale and rupturing it and it just bleeds to death. It's completely
inhumane and completely wrong.