Human Interaction

Whale Wars Can Sanctions Enforce IWC Resolutions?

posted: 05/15/12

Animal Planet presents this feature as a conversation with legal scholars. We draw no conclusions, other than that reasonable legal minds differ on these issues.

DR. CHARLOTTE EPSTEIN: "The IWC is really basically a club where countries get together and manage an issue in common. [...] The power it has is really the power of the countries. [...] Being a member of the IWC means that you accept and endorse [the organization's] decision. [...] It's not an external power that can force a sovereign country to do what it wants. What has to happen is that the states have to either voluntarily comply or be shamed by other states, which is the way it works."

DR. DAVID CARON: "(...) The U.S. had two sanctions during the 1980s. One was called the Pelly Amendment, the other was called the Packwood-Magnuson. The Packwood-Magnuson was very effective with a few countries, and that required that if a nation acted contrary to the effectiveness of an organization like the IWC, the U.S. would reduce the foreign country's ability to fish in our waters within our two hundred mile zone. That amendment is virtually ineffective at this point because the U.S. presently consumes all fishing quotas within our waters ourselves. So we don't allow foreign countries in to fish in our waters. The Pelly Amendment was an amendment of the same design in which imports of fish from the foreign state would be blocked."

DR. CHARLOTTE EPSTEIN: "There's a very specific and quite painful example of [how some member countries force others to follow IWC resolutions] for the Japanese. In 1982 when the moratorium on commercial whaling was passed, the Japanese placed a reservation on this moratorium. As did the Norwegians. By which they meant that they weren't subjecting themselves to the terms of that moratorium. At that point the Japanese were fishing quite a lot in American waters. And the Americans, if you like, threatened to withdraw the Japanese fishing quota if the Japanese did not withdraw the moratorium objection."

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