Cambodia’s fisheries chief said international commercial whaling levels were “sustainable” yesterday amid renewed allegations that Japan uses foreign aid to buy the support of developing countries in its campaign to lift a ban on the practice.
Despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, Iceland, Norway and Japan continue to hunt whales, the latter claiming an exemption for scientific research. According to figures from the International Whaling Commission and the Committee of Whaling Statistics, the trio has killed more than 34,000 whales in the past 24 years.
Delegates from Cambodia and the whaling commission’s 87 other member states are gathered in Morocco this week to consider a proposal that would allow whaling nations to catch a total of 1,800 whales a year.
Though listed as Cambodia’s delegate to the Commission, Fisheries Department Director Nao Thuok said other officials were attending the Morocco meeting in his stead.
Mr Thuok said Cambodia supported whaling carried out “in a sustainable manner.”
“We support the sustainable use principle of all natural resources,” he said.
Asked whether Japan should heed calls to reduce its current, self-imposed whaling limits, Mr Thuok took issue with singling out the country.
“The science shows that this level of whaling is sustainable,” he said. “If it is sustainable, there is no use to reduce the quotas.”
The fisheries chief also accused anti-whaling activists of placing whales ahead of people.
“Some emotional people think whales are more important than people,” he said. “They do not think about the food security.”
Commercial whaling opponents have long accused Japan of buying support for its bid to lift the ban with the promise of development aid, a claim the Japanese government has denied.
Kazuo Chujo, counselor for the Japanese Embassy, also rejected the charge of aid-for-votes at the whaling commission.
“Japanese aid is designed to assist in the economic advancement of developing countries,” he said. “It is not implemented on the grounds of a country’s support or non-support for the sustainable use of whale species. Moreover, Japanese aid is extended to countries that currently oppose whaling on the [commission].”