Key accidentally calls open season on whales

Written By: - Date published: 12:29 pm, April 13th, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: Conservation, International - Tags: , , ,

We know from leaks in MFAT that when John Key told the country that he had a plan to end whaling back in January there actually was no plan at all. It was just a stunt ahead of the expected visit by Hillary Clinton (that was called off because of the Haitian earthquake)

Chris Carter describes what happened next:

Concerned that the PM was demonstrating no real understanding of the polarised politics of whaling, officials rushed to ask Key what his proposal was. After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing the policy, apparently, Mr Key struck on was legalising limited commercial whaling. Essentially killing the endangered whales as a sop to the Japanese whaling industry might paradoxically save the whales.

…Our diplomats knew they were breaking basic principles of diplomacy (and they knew their negotiating partners knew it too); the NZ side was conceding to the vested commercial interests of Japan’s whaling industry without any concrete promise of reciprocal concessions whatsoever.

Of course, all our allies in the anti-whaling camp are aghast at this recklessness. Key’s apologists started running a desperate ‘we have to destroy the village to save it’ line.

But now things are really getting out of control. Korea has said that they want in on commercial whaling too. They say that if New Zealand wants to abandon the ban on whaling and let Japan and other whaling nations hunt on a commercial basis than there’s no justification for not allowing any other country to whale commercially too.

As Carter describes it:

The Koreans have responded to the New Zealand Plan by saying in unusually strong language that they are very opposed to restricting the right to hunt whales to just Japan, Norway and Iceland. Korea’s written response states that ‘the draft is unfair and unduly restricts the rights of other countries to sustainable use of whale resources‘.

The risk now is that Key has permanently destroyed the status quo which, at least, has kept whaling at low levels compared to the pre-moratorium days. Even if his silly, off the cuff ‘plan’ is abandoned there’s a real danger that countries like Korea won’t settle for not being able to whale when Japan can.

This is what you get from a government that has no vision, no plan, and no understanding of complex issues.

27 comments on “Key accidentally calls open season on whales”

  1. tc 1

    I’d like to see alot more of this whilst the PM’s away (again) so he’s got a pile of his own crap to wade through before he can get down to the serious business of smiling and waving….and photo shoots of course.

  2. Cnr Joe 2

    and will Key ever have the depth (of insight? knowledge?) to realise how fucking stupid he really is and the damage his pointless self-interested campaign to be NZs PM will cause this country for years to come?
    There can not be – can not be – another term of this destructive coalition.

  3. I bet smile and wave is wishing that he was staring at Merril Lynch computer screens making millions out of the Third World’s and New Zealand’s Currencies.

    Boy this leadership thingy is really difficult!

  4. Lew 4

    I don’t think Key — or NZ — has that power, but nevertheless.

    There is whaling out of the Republic of Korea already — though it’s usually classified as “by-catch” (how you accidentally catch something which weighs dozens of tonnes is beyond me). The lead author of a study on the practice published in 2007 and featured in New Scientist (a marine biologist from Oregon, I forget his name) called it “de-facto commercial whaling” or somesuch.

    The history and status of whale meat in Korea is somewhat similar to Japan — it’s a traditional food, but there is very low demand and it’s generally unpopular among younger generations and more environmentally-conscious consumers. But they do eat it there, and it’s pretty easy to buy and consume. So essentially their situation is little different to that of the Japanese except (anecdotally) their fleets stay closer to home. So if the strategy holds for Japan — to permit a certain number of whales for commercial slaughter each year, where the number is (substantially, I would hope) fewer than the number which are illicitly slaughtered already — then it holds equally for Korea and other countries. What’s important is that whatever measures taken have real enforcement teeth — rights of oversight and sanction against those who abuse the privilege of limited slaughter. Without those, the whole thing is pointless. But with them, there’s no reason the overall catch wouldn’t be reduced by extending the scheme to as many countries as already undertake illicit whaling.


  5. This is the sort of story that key will hate and therefore must be continually pushed forward. He said he had a solution to the whaling – keep baiting him on that – where is the solution, where is the solution, where is the solution – relentless badgering will cause his thin smily veneer to crack and then the public will see the real key – and they won’t like it one little bit.

  6. ianmac 6

    As I said elsewhere I can see a pattern of John Key just saying stuff without having research or substance. The troops are left to clean up and fill in the holes: whaling, Standards Testing, Mining, anti-nuclear, Taxcuts north of $50, and so on. I imagine that some Ministers would get a bit tired of this if it is so.

  7. Neil 7

    “We know from leaks in MFAT that when John Key told the country that he had a plan to end whaling back in January there actually was no plan at all.”

    which leaks are those?

  8. Neil 8

    that should be – if you have a link to those leaks post it

  9. wtl 9

    Another New Scientist article describes a bit of history behind this ‘compromise’, and it appears that it has been brewing for some time, possibly led by the US:
    As nice as it is to believe that this a grand idea of Key’s, it may be that it is just Key/NACT blindly following the lead of the US.

    • Neil 9.1

      No it’s not Key’s idea, he did not just make this up on the spur of the moment earlier this year as Carter alleges. There’s plenty of documentation on the IWC site showing this proposal goes back a number of years.

      Carter is a liar.

  10. TightyRighty 10

    one law for whales and another for goats? typical of the inconsistincies of the left.

  11. Name 11

    Based on his ideas for making the sea safer for whales, John Key is no doubt presently in Washington telling everyone that as terrorist organisations are likely to eventually get their hands on nuclear weapons sooner or later, we might as well give them two or three each now so we’ll know where they are.

  12. john 12

    John Key may be trying to reflect the change of attitude of the Obama administration which if this link is correct is contemplating a return to commercial whaling going contra to all previous administrations. The neo-liberal corporate fascist state, of the USA is the ideological inspiration of this national Government. Where’s the loyalty to our Australian cousins?Is this a trade off to get a free trade agreement? Which will never happen because the US is in dire economic straits.

    Suffice to say this government has no principles other than folding stuff.

  13. Robert Miles 13

    Look this is a short term business government with a horizon of about two years. Their philosophy is pretty much that of Joseph Kennedy or Neville Chamberlain. What is good for business. To them any possibility of strife with Japan or Japan giving any strop back is terrifying. National adopted the same policy as foreign affairs aeons ago that trade and business are everything and the environment, wildlife, the military of no value. They care not about fish or any long term view only lamb and dairy and the simple rural vote.See Key and Act as later day FRed Wilson’s – the sort of simple business advisor to Chamberlain.

  14. Salsy 14

    Has any one considered how becoming a pro whaling nation will affect our tourism. As Korea launches its whaling fleet, and the legalisation of whale meat causes consumption and demand to rise – how are we going to look as the nation that dimwittingly started it all…?

    • Lew 14.1

      I don’t think it would in those East Asian markets. Demand is low predominantly because eating whale meat is old-fashioned and ideologically/environmentally problematic. The last two of these are the aspects which could potentially cause problems for our tourist image in those markets. So if demand grew, it would most likely be due to the fact that whaling had been “rehabilitated” to an extent in consumers’ minds, which would probably neutralise the tourist problem.

      Aside from which, the supply of whale meat will decrease under this plan, if it’s properly implemented — so demand and consumption can hardly increase.

      But in other markets, there is a risk of fallout — which is to say, while Japanese and Koreans might not care, potential tourists from other countries might.


      • Salsy 14.1.1

        I very, very much doubt this. Its incredibly simplistic, naieve and plainly stupid to realistically expect the Japanese to come clean and “register every whale” caught. The reality is that the Japanese market, despite so called compliance with IWC is still littered with large volumes of endangered whales – no one really *knows* where they come from. Could be Russia, Norway , Iceland or part of the so called scientific process.. Bottom line, Japan arent going to comply with fewer, but legitimate whales – why should they? The biggest concern to New Zealanders is the ongoing lack of considered thought and demcratic process that surrounds this issue. Key hasnt the compassion, nor the intellect to comprehend the kinds of issues a national leader needs to face in a democracy – hence the failing of our democracy…

        • Lew

          If a proper monitoring and enforcement regime is implemented, with the availability of genuine sanctions (plus the opprobrium attached to “breaking an international treaty”, for what that’s worth) I think there’s every possibility of the whaling industry being required by their government to play ball.

          I accept that’s a big if — but that’s the if upon which my support for the proposed scheme is conditional. No teeth to the regulatory scheme and I agree that a symbolic “no whaling never ever” position is more valuable.


  15. swimmer 15

    Hey give him a break, he’s just making more room in the sea for the warships.

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