David Cameron has to use the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement talks in Tokyo in 10 days’ time to ensure whale protection is put firmly on the agenda, demands PETER FROST.
I was surprised and delighted by this pledge but remembering his earlier promise to be the greenest government ever I wasn’t sure it would amount to much. Would it save a single whale, I wondered.
The result of that earlier promise was certainly pretty disappointing. Exactly what I would expect in fact from Cameron, Clegg and the bunch of rich farmers, pheasant-shooters, grouse-breeders, fox-hunters, frackers, bee-poisoners and general despoilers of our green and pleasant land that made up the coalition environment team.
Now the Prime Minister has a chance to prove Frosty wrong.
He and his team will soon be off to Tokyo for trade talks with Japan — discussing the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement.
The 11th round of these trade negotiations was held in July this year in Brussels. The next round of the talks is scheduled for mid-September in Tokyo.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed several times his hope of successfully concluding the negotiations by 2016.
This will be the perfect opportunity for Cameron to keep his promise to speak up for whales. He must get the EU side in the talks to make clear their strong object to the Japanese government-sanctioned whale killings and must make his objections and those of the British people known to the Japanese.
It is obvious that far from being “scientific research,” the Japanese whale hunt is just a commercial harvesting of whale meat.
We need to remind the Japanese that even their domestic market for whale meat is shrinking as more and more of the public reject the habit of eating these monarchs of the ocean.
This reduction in demand means that some whale meat is made into expensive treats for Japan’s pet dogs.
Cameron and his team need to bring these arguments to the table in Toyko. They are the vital bargaining points that could persuade the Japan’s politicians to call off the slaughter thinly disguised as a scientific research programme.
Despite an international moratorium on whaling since 1986 three countries — Japan, Norway and Iceland — have kept up the barbaric slaughter. They still kill 2,000 whales each year, mainly fin, minke, Bryde’s, sei, humpback and sperm whales.
In fact the international whaling industry is in decline and the demand for meat is falling. Substantial government subsidies help keep it going but the demand for the meat is not big enough so much of the whale meat is frozen and stockpiled.
Despite this, the three whale-killing nations are fighting hard to turn the tide and lift the global whaling ban. They want to increase the kill to 4,000 or more whales each year. It’s part of a campaign to get rid of the 30-year-old world ban on killing whales for profit.
Indeed these whaling countries cynically use the success of the moratorium, which they ignored but which has seen a major recovery in whale populations, as an argument to resume full-scale international whaling.
Over 30,000 whales have been killed since the ban came into effect because of loopholes that have allowed some countries to carry on the practice.
The Whaling Commission currently allows Norway to hunt under an objection to the ban and Japan uses a loophole, which allows countries to hunt whales for research purposes.
Iceland claims it is allowed to break the ban also because it left the commission in 1992 but was allowed to rejoin 10 years later under a reservation.
The commission also allows small numbers of whales to be killed by groups of aborigines who claim hunting whales is an important part of their culture and the small number of kills make their particular hunts sustainable.
A particularly grisly form of whale hunting occurs in the Faroe Islands — part of Denmark — where large pods of pilot whales are driven into a shallow bay and killed with knives by men and boys wading in the bloody water.
We need to stop all these cruel practices and allow whales to swim safe and free. If we don’t speak out now the governments in Japan, Norway, Denmark and Iceland could succeed in turning the tide and the seas could become more deadly for whales every year.
Right now, there are thousands of graceful, powerful whales swimming the world’s oceans, singing to each other and forming a vital link in the chain of life that connects us all.
If we are to save them we need to remind Cameron of his promise to speak out for whales. Together, we can make Britain a powerful voice for whale protection once more.
Let’s hope for once in his life Cameron will put his money where his blowhole is.