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Whaling proposal not realism, it’s a sell-out

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, March 10th, 2010 - 64 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, International - Tags: , , ,

John Armstrong has chucked John Key’s promise to end whaling down the memory hole and, instead, comes out swinging against those who don’t want to give up the commercial whaling ban:

“the plan [will] allow commercial whaling for a 10-year period, but with big cuts in the numbers killed each year. This plan would buy time for the commission while restoring some control over the numbers killed – something it is powerless to do with regard to scientific whaling.”

If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Look at the draft agreement. Do you see any reductions in quota numbers? No. The big quotas (the Southern Ocean) don’t even have numbers but those that do have numbers start in 2011 at 410 a year and end in 2020 at 410. Some end to commercial whaling.

No-one has explained why Japan would suddenly agree to reduce, and eventually end, its whaling anyway.

The reality is that the ban on commercial whaling saw the number of whales killed each year drop from over 10,000 to 2,000 last year. Sure, the number of whales killed under the ‘scientific’ loophole has increased. But what’s our reaction to people breaking the rules? Change the rules to permit them? Sounds like National’s tax policy.

Armstrong continues:

“[Kevin Rudd’s] tough talk should be seen for what it really is – utter expedience, making New Zealand’s stance look principled in comparison.”

Um. Fact check. Taking Japan to court over whaling was a campaign promise by Labor. If they can be criticised for anything, it’s failing to act earlier.

On the other hand, a couple of months ago we were excitedly informed that John Key had “come up with a deal to end whaling in Antarctica. Prime Minister John Key told a media conference this afternoon that the Government had drafted a deal that would see an end to commercial whaling over an undisclosed time-frame.” Turns out his plan is to reintroduce commercial whaling.

Let’s get real here. If re-introducing commercial whaling was the only workable option and it would lead to the eventual end to whaling, wouldn’t whaling and environmental advocacy groups be all for it? Of course they would. Yet the reaction from these groups has been universal and strident opposition.

So, let’s ignore the desperate spin and face reality. Key lied to us. He told us that he was going to end whaling. But the reality is that he has sold out New Zealand’s proud tradition of opposing whaling and, without mandate or consultation, turned us into a pro-whaling nation.


64 comments on “Whaling proposal not realism, it’s a sell-out”

  1. vto 1

    This govt seems to be making a habit of going off on an unmandated tangent.

    On my own tangent – it does always amuse me what various peoples seem to think they can justify by “tradition”.

    The Japanese at the Cove slaughtering dolphins.
    Various in the arctic slaughtering whales.
    Various anywhere slaughtering now-endangered species.
    Maori sexism not allowing female speakers.
    Orange marchers in Northern Ireland.
    Sexism in most all churches.
    the list goes on. Great excuse to get away with any sort of sin though aint it. Just claim a tradition. Ffs.

    • what a suprise 1.1

      “This govt seems to be making a habit of going off on an unmandated tangent.”

      it is a National government is it not
      that is all they ever do and the country never learns

      • vto 1.1.1

        I don’t think it is limited to national govts. The anti-smacking law would pop into most people’s minds as an example of unmandated law and policy-making too.

        p.s. are there a whole bunch of people who coin a new name for every new comment they make what a surprise? are you also someone else?

  2. Doug 2

    I see Pundit having a go at you Eddie Left V Left Pundit makes more sence.

    [lprent: Pundit is a multi-author blog with authors of widely varying opinions.
    What you meant to say was that Claire Browning wrote a post on it.
    For claiming that a program wrote an opinion – have a 2 week ban for stupidity.
    And read our policy on idiotic behaviours about computer programs. ]

    • IrishBill 2.1

      You’ve already posted that in open mike, Doug. Is it supposed to compensate for your own inability to make a cogent argument?

  3. Peter 3

    Appalling, time we stood up for our fundamental beliefs, strange I seem to recall that we used to do that under the last Labour Govt.

    Maybe standing up for ourselves is just too hard for Key ‘ n ‘co.

  4. Cnr Joe 4

    A maori party member who I lobbied on this went off to a local hui with Te Ururoa Flavell and came back saying that theres no way the Maori Party would be riding this whaling policy u-turn….so….has anyone heard an official peep?

    • Tigger 4.1

      Despite the rhetoris I suspect the MP will happily harpoon the whales rather than ride them if it means they get to keep their limos.

  5. Lew 5

    The perfect is the enemy of the good, Eddie. But only if it’s allowed to be made so. There’s plenty that this government is doing which is genuinely bad when there are genuinely excellent options; why focus on the things they’re doing which are only a little bit good, when no genuinely good options exist?


    • Bright Red 5.1

      Lew. For that argument to stand, one has to believe that re-introducing commercial whaling will reduce the number of whales killed more than any other option. And you have to believe that on the basis of no evidence.

      If you believe that, well…

      • Neil 5.1.1

        “And you have to believe that on the basis of no evidence.”

        the evidence is years of stalemate at the IWC while the number of whales killed goes up. Other options have been tried with no success. Palmer is saying this is a last chance.

        What other options would you suggest?

      • Lew 5.1.2

        Not really. What I have to believe is that agreeing to a set number of allowable kills, lower than the present number, with specified consequences for exceeding that number is better than the present situation, which allows governments to unilaterally set kill numbers and provides the international community no recourse against them.While I accept that there could well be implementation problems which render the proposed situation a bit crap, it can hardly be more crap than the current situation. If the specified limits are exceeded, we’ll be able to actually do something about it. At present, all we can do is issue angry press releases and hope that Sea Shepherd don’t tarnish our international reputation too badly.


        • Bright Red

          “set number of allowable kills, lower than the present number,”

          who says they will be lower?

          read the draft agreement. 410 (not decreasing over time) in the quotas that are agreed and those are the small quotas, not the ones in the Southern Ocean.

          • Lew

            If you believe a set number agreed to and overseen by the international community will result in more kills than the present case of allowing the Japanese and other governments to arbitrarily kill as many whales as they like then, well…

            Also, the plan you propose has had its day and even its proponents agree that it is failed utterly to produce the desired changes in behaviour by whaling nations. I think, given that, there’s an onus on those who support it despite this failure to justify that position. This isn’t to say that I think Palmer’s proposed solution is a good and wonderful thing — only that, because it grants the international communuity actual auithority over the whale hunt, it’s an improvement over leaving that authority solely with the hunters.


            • Bright Red

              “I think, given that, there’s an onus on those who support it despite this failure to justify that position.”

              Lew. In the early 1980s, 10,000 whales a year were being killed. In the 24 years since the ban, a total of 33,000 have been killed, including by objecting nations like Norway that won’t be covered by the new quoatas anyway if they choose to object to them as is their legal right.

              Over the last five years (this is from the draft report) 1700-1900 whales a year have been killed. That’s a reduction of over 80%. That’s failure in you’re book?

              “it grants the international communuity actual auithority over the whale hunt, it’s an improvement over leaving that authority solely with the hunters.”

              You have no understanding of international law. The whaling countries can simply object to any quotas they think are too low and then not be legally bound to them. However, since Japan chose to be bound by the ban on commercial whaling, it can be prosecuted for breaking the rules by using scientific whaling as a backdoor to commercial whaling.

              • Lew

                If Japan can be prosecuted, then why hasn’t it been? I think the point is that, on paper, it can be, but in reality the logistics of doing so make it impossible. That’s what needs to change. It looks as if this proposal will effect that, because it represents a form of engagement with whaling nations; their buy-in is required to give the proposal teeth.

                If it doesn’t contain teeth, in the final text, I’ll happily reconsider my support for it; but for now it’s looking like an improvement.


              • Bright Red

                “If Japan can be prosecuted, then why hasn’t it been?”

                keep up lew, that’s what Australia is going to do.

                “If it doesn’t contain teeth, in the final text, I’ll happily reconsider my support for it; but for now it’s looking like an improvement.”

                What part do you support? the quota numbers that don’t reduce over time?

              • Lew

                BR, but they haven’t, and it looks like they won’t be able to, and in any case adversarial actions between nations in international law take years, during which time other measures which might make a damned difference in the interim.

                As I’ve said several times, the bit I support is the bit where the rest of the world has actual standing to enforce kill limits on countries which would otherwise set them unilaterally.


              • Bright Red

                “the bit I support is the bit where the rest of the world has actual standing to enforce kill limits on countries which would otherwise set them unilaterally”

                You can’t enforce kill limits on another country short of war.

                If Japan thinks the quotas are too low (and why would it? The ones that are agreed so far are high and don’t reduce) then it can just object and not be bound to them.

              • Lew


                You can’t enforce kill limits on another country short of war.

                By that logic, all international law is futile. Do you really believe that? Come on.


  6. Captain Rehab 6

    Don’t you get sick of spouting banal homilies?

    • Lew 6.1

      I certainly do. I wish people would bear them in mind so I didn’t have to.


      • Captain Rehab 6.1.1

        L stands for lame.

        • Bright Red

          To be fair, Cap. Lew has been providing with an anti-Standard angle to Claire Browning. You cna’t expect him not to use it.

          Politics of envy from them both.

          • Lew

            Give over, BR. I’ve never been an adherent to the all-or-nothing revolutionary doctrines of the activist left; I’m an incrementalist. The proposed plan is an incrementalist plan. It scotches the glorious revolutionary activist plan which is curently failing everyone except the Japanese. That’s why I’m inclined to support it.


  7. Neil 7

    “The reality is that the ban on commercial whaling saw the number of whales killed each year drop from over 10,000 to 2,000 last year. Sure, the number of whales killed under the ‘scientific’ loophole has increased. But what’s our reaction to people breaking the rules? Change the rules to permit them?”

    the number of whales killed each year is going up. Japan isn’t breaking the rules. Neither are Iceland and Norway. If changing the rules leads to a reduction in whales killed then change the rules.

    If your position is that nothing can be done except a complete end to whaling then given the position of Japan, Iceland and Norway the end result will be whales killed increasing.

    Also, these are just negotiating positions at the moment.

    • Bright Red 7.1

      “If changing the rules leads to a reduction in whales killed then change the rules.”

      What evidence do you have that changing the rules will reduce the number of whales killed?

      captcha: theoretical

      • Neil 7.1.1

        that’s the plan. Japan would have to agree to kill less.

        If of course the whaling nations keep to such an agreement. If they sign up then renege then they will be breaking an international agreement (and international law?) and countries such as NZ and Australia would be in a far stronger position to take more direct action such as the use of navel vessels.

        But if they don’t sign up then that would indicate they have no intention of stopping, ever. And we are stuck with being able to do very little.

        • Bright Red

          The quota numbers agreed to in the draft text don’t have any reductions.

          Will you oppose the re-introduction of commercial whaling without large quota reductions in the text?

          • Neil

            the quotas have not been set as this is all still being negotiated. Palmer has said that the intention is to lower the number of whales killed. And yes, I wouldn’t see the point in such a change to the IWC system unless there were significant cuts to the numbers killed.

            • Bright Red

              The draft text contains quota numbers. None of which reduce.

              • Neil

                it’s a draft. the negotiations are ongoing. the intention is to lower the number killed. if you don’t believe that that’s the intention just say so.

                but in the meantime, what would you do at the IWC?

              • Bright Red

                I would take Japan to court for breaching the obiligation to not hunt whales commercially as it agreed. It clearly is hunting whales commercially and just saying the hunt is scientific.

                And, no, I don’t believe that the intention is to reduce the number of whales killed, not on behalf of the whaling nations (and I don’t think National cares). That’s why no anti-whaling group agrees with the notion.

  8. john 8

    If we are to stop the japanese whaling down here for the next 25 years , Australia and NZ’s Navy must join Seashepherd and harass their ships, making the killing of whales impossible. Seashepherd’s methods have caused no injuries to japanese persons. Both countries must declare the Southern Ocean off-limits to all Whalers. The active service would be good training for our naval personnel.The Japanese don’t understand anything else.

    • Peter 8.1

      Agree, what else do we have a Naval force for ??

      The Japanese w only respect those who stand up for themselves, not handwringing moaners.

  9. walter 9

    You have to see this Southpark clip about Japanese whaling where the Japanese terrorise sea parks and aquariums – ‘oh no – it’s the Japanese!’ Really sums it up.


  10. Dw 10

    I notice granny herald pulled the you views comments entirely, as they were overwhelmingly negative about the idea and the government. How much more can these fools suck up yo the government?

  11. Nick C 11

    “If re-introducing commercial whaling was the only workable option and it would lead to the eventual end to whaling, wouldn’t whaling and environmental advocacy groups be all for it? Of course they would. Yet the reaction from these groups has been universal and strident opposition.”

    That says a lot more about whaling and environmental groups than it does about this draft agreement. Pretty much everyone agrees that this will reduce the total number of whales killed, why cant you accept that?

    • Bright Red 11.1

      “Pretty much everyone agrees that this will reduce the total number of whales killed, why cant you accept that?”

      evdience that “pretty much everyone agrees”?

      evidence that it “will reduce the total number of whales killed”?

      The numbers in the draft proposal don’t reduce over time

    • because 11.2

      simply, i have a brain that is capable of independant thought and it tells me that the only way to stop whaling is to stop whaling.

      a commercial whaling quota to end whaling? next week we f#*k to save virgins

      • Lew 11.2.1

        Sounds like you might be an advocate of abstinence-only sex education, too.


        Captcha: “dating”

        • Captain Rehab

          I wish your mum and dad had abstained.

        • because

          no, go for it kids i say, just be safe
          lew how you come to that bizarre conclusion is beyond me.

          to stop whaling you stop killing whales , really simple, and perhaps you are unaware that fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity

          • Lew

            Perhaps you could explain that to the Dutch. Or the Belgians. Or the Polish. Or the Czechs. Or the French. Or the Koreans. Or the Kosovars.


            • Bright Red

              we’re not in a war for self-determination against the oppression of the whales.


              • Lew

                Of course we’re not. But the proposition was that fighting for peace can never result in peace. Most of what we now call the free world would disagree. Apply the same principle to whales: sanction the killing of a few, in order to prevent the killing of many.

                It’s not rocket surgery — but blind absolutist dogma isn’t quite good enough for a solution here.


    • T 11.3

      “the eventual end to whaling”

      I could be very wrong but my understanding is that the ban is and was always meant to be temporary. When whale populations reach 54% of the IWC’s guesstimation of whale populations mid-19th century, the ban ends and we can all start hunting whales again if we want to.

  12. Janice 12

    The number of whales killed will reduce because they will become fewer as more countries join in the kill. Each country will want the same quota so more overall will be killed until there are no more to make it economically viable. (As happened in the 1930s). Refer blue finned tuna and the destruction of those stocks, but John Boy has just upped our quota becasue we are not taking our full quota now. Go figure. The MP may just have to go against the resumption of commercial whaling as Nga Tahi have a lot of money invested in whale watching.

  13. PeteG 13

    Key lied to us. He told us that he was going to end whaling.

    Really. When did he tell us he was going to end whaling? You refer to a draft deal in an item that quotes:

    “that would see an end to commercial whaling over an undisclosed timeframe.

    The deal will be put on the table at the International Whaling Commission meeting, to be held later this month in Honolulu.

    But just how long it would take to stop whaling and what New Zealand would concede to the Japanese remains unclear.”

    That doesn’t sound like a promise.

    • Bright Red 13.1

      So, now the Right’s line is that Key didn’t promise to end whaling?

      But… until now you’ve been arguing that this plan will end whaling.

      Can’t have it both ways.

      • PeteG 13.1.1

        I’m not “the Right” (that’s really funny but another story).

        Who has been arguing what plan will end whaling? Different people (and different governments and different countries) are trying to bring an end to whaling, but anyone with any sense of realism knows that is difficult to achieve. If Japan or any other whaling nation tell s NZ to get stuffed there ain’t much we can do about it, hence the negotiations, tabling of possible deals etc etc.

        To imply that New Zealand can stop whaling is extremely naieve, or they have a political agenda to push.

  14. tc 14

    More of the same from that nat apologist John Armstrong….they may as well put a Nat party logo over his piece…..actually they should change the Herald masthead to a nat logo for the uninformed of which there are far too many.

  15. Neil 15

    I was trying to get a feel for the timeline of the IWC negotiations which is rather frustrating. I did come across this though:

    “One major issue was a pending deal between Japan and the United States’ representative, William Hogarth (also Chairman of the IWC). For two long years, Chairman Hogarth and the Japanese and a few other countries had been in secret negotiations to “break the impasse’ at the IWC between the whaling and anti-whaling nations.”


    that was written July 16, 2009 so “two long years” takes us back into when Labour were in govt.

    We had the same IWC negotiator at the time. No mention of any of this from Labour. Funny that.

    What we are seeing is the continuation of negotiations that have been going for sometime, since before National was elected.

    • PeteG 15.1

      Whaling negotiations have been going on for a lot longer than that too. The last Labour government were doing what they could alongside other countries to try and stop whaling and didn’t get a result. Does that mean they lied too? If not, who is really lying now?

      • Bright Red 15.1.1

        before we weren’t talking about backflipping on commercial whaling. that was key’s doing.

  16. Draco T Bastard 16

    I see where the negotiations are trying to go. I have doubts that it’ll actually work as some people just don’t want to stop whaling but it’s probably worth a try. That said, we should probably have been informed of the change in direction of the negotiations before now and in a better way than through a sensationalist news column.

  17. Cnr Joe 17

    Which would be worse – better
    Whales grown in pens or chased out in the ocean?

  18. reddy 18

    I think we should legalise marujuana. This way we will reduce people smoking and eventually irradicate it.

    Heck why not just legalise ‘P’?

  19. Lanthanide 19

    Legalising marijuana would provide significant tax revenue for the government, as well as result in much less organised crime, along with a plethora of other benefits.

    P, on the other hand, is much more addictive and destructive than marijuana is.

  20. reddy 20

    Looky Lanthy you are not being a realist about the P problem.

    Legalising the P problem will mean that over the next 10 years we can cut the numbers of P users and perhaps eliminate it altogether.

    It will give the police some power over the P process. With P being illegal the police are completely powerless to prevent it spiralling out of control.

  21. Salsy 21

    Does Armstrong write for the Herald or for John Key? It seems the MSM and National have gone a step too far when a politician cites a Journalist for an explanation on current policy:
    Check out John Key’s statement on whaling via his facebook page…

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    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
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  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
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    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
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    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
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  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
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  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
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    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
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    3 weeks ago
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    3 weeks ago
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