WWF POSITION STATEMENT 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES Santiago, 3-15 November 2002

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1 CITES WWF POSITION STATEMENT 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES Santiago, 3-15 November 2002 Whales Props. 4 & 5: Japan has proposed to transfer from Appendix I to II: Prop. 4 minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) Northern Hemisphere stock (except Yellow Sea, East China Sea and Sea of Japan stock) Prop. 5 Bryde s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) western North Pacific stock Both proposals include annotations intended to satisfy the precautionary measures of Res. Conf. 9.24, Annex 4. WWF recommendation on whale proposals: Oppose Summary We urge CITES Parties to oppose these proposals to transfer these whale stocks to Appendix II because: The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is the primary international management body for whaling and has agreed a moratorium on commercial whaling. Permitting such trade through CITES would be a challenge to the authority of the IWC, in conflict with CITES Resolutions, and contradict the IWC s moratorium; Despite certain controls on trade set out in the annotations to these proposals, a range of potential loopholes and weaknesses remain which would result in lack of effective control of legal and illegal trade; Major scientific uncertainty remains over population trends of both northern minke and Bryde s whales. Rationale 1. CITES and the International Whaling Commission: two conventions working co-opperatively The International Whaling Commission (IWC), established in 1946 under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), has long been recognised and reaffirmed by the CITES Parties as the sole authority responsible for managing whaling. This has been reflected in a number of CITES Resolutions spanning the last 22 years, most recently at CoP 11 when Parties to CITES adopted Res. Conf by a large majority. This resolution reaffirms that CITES will not authorise international trade for any whale product WHALE SHARK, J STAFFORD-DEITSCH, WWF-UK HUMPBACK WHALE, B COLEMAN HAWKSBILL TURTLE, J STAFFORD-DEITSCH, WWF-UK

2 from any stock protected from whaling by the IWC. The IWC has established a moratorium on all commercial whaling and is negotiating the details of a Revised Management Scheme (RMS). A downlisting by CITES to allow trade would thus be in clear conflict with existing CITES Resolutions, inconsistent with the IWC s moratorium on commercial whaling, and would challenge the authority of the IWC in regulating whaling. Both Japan and Norway conduct unilaterally managed programmes of whaling carried out pursuant to loopholes in the applicability of the IWC s moratorium. Both currently hold reservations to the Appendix I listing of minke whales, so trade between them (or introduction from the sea) of minke whale products does not technically contravene their CITES obligations. The unambiguous motivation for these downlisting proposals is to secure favourable CITES decisions in order to avoid the difficulties of reaching multilateral agreement on whaling management within the IWC forum. It would be highly inappropriate for the CITES CoP to support such a course of action, which would lead to inconsistencies and contradictions between conventions. While the IWC s moratorium on commercial whaling remains in place, the CITES Parties should firmly oppose attempts to downlist any whale stocks or species. 2. Implications of downlisting: potential loopholes in control of harvest and trade The CITES Parties have agreed a set of precautionary measures that must be fulfilled before the downlisting of species or populations from Appendix I to Appendix II can take place (Res. Conf Annex IV). Despite a number of safeguards built into these proposals, these precautionary measures remain inadequately fulfilled. Downlisting would open a range of potential loopholes, with the effect that no effective and comprehensive management system would operate for the regulation of whaling and trade in its products. i. Potential expansion of trade As the proponent, Japan states that their reservation to the inclusion of minke and Bryde s whales in Appendix I would be withdrawn if the proposals are adopted, in accordance with Annex 4 of Res. Conf However, Norway and Iceland (which is not a Party to the ICRW) also hold reservations to listings of minke whales in Appendix I. Nothing in these proposals binds Norway or Iceland to remove their reservations. Whale meat was recently traded between Norway and Iceland without CITES controls: acceptance of these proposals would mean such uncontrolled trading could continue, with no requirements that it be legal or non-detrimental; These proposals imply that only trade between Norway and Japan would be allowed, and there is inadequate consideration of potential impacts of whaling by states other than Japan and Norway. Trade would be permitted by IWRC members in catch taken either under Scientific Permit or pursuant to a legal objection to the moratorium. Scientific permits can be issued at the discretion of ICRW contracting states to their nationals. Norway and the Russian Federation both hold legal objections to the IWC moratorium, and the possibility was raised at IWC 2001 and 2002 of Iceland rejoining the IWC holding such an objection; Furthermore, if the proposals were adopted, CITES Parties would be able to trade by entering a Reservation to the listing in Appendix II. This could include Parties that do not currently hold reservations on any whale listings; The proposals both state: Notwithstanding the provisions of CITES Article XIV, paragraphs 4 and 5, any trade shall be subject to the provisions of Article IV." However, it is highly dubious whether a basic requirement of the Convention can be waived or altered by means of such an annotation to the Appendices. If this provision in the annotation was not operative, acceptance of these downlisting proposals would have the effect of permitting trade without application of the Article IV requirements of legality and non-detriment;

3 Prop. 4 states (p2 and p5) that only the Okhotsk Sea-West Pacific stock and the Northeast Atlantic and North Atlantic Central stock of minke whales would be subject to trade. However, this is not reflected in the annotation, and other Northern Hemisphere stocks for which no biological information is given (e.g. Northern Indian Ocean, Canadian East Coast) would also be downlisted, allowing trade in these stocks. ii. Inadequacies of national DNA registers The proposals restrict trade to parties with an effective DNA register system to monitor catches, and state in a footnote that Japan's register is being established. However, existing DNA registers are not adequate to ensure effective trade monitoring. DNA databases of both Japan and Norway are not open to international scrutiny, and neither country has agreed to file copies of their DNA registers with the IWC Secretariat, which would allow independent monitors to ascertain whether whale meat on sale is from legal sources. International scrutiny of DNA databases would be required by the Revised Management Scheme currently under discussion in the IWC. No other nation currently has a national DNA register of whalemeat; Before any whale downlisting can be considered, it is imperative that all whales caught must be sampled (including by-catch), and a diagnostic and transparent international DNA register of all such samples must be in place under the auspices of the IWC Secretariat. The risk of whale meat from illegal, unregulated, or unreported whaling operations being laundered into any future legal trade remains a grave concern; iii. Inadequacy of implementation of the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) to set catch levels The proposals state that safe catch limits should be calculated according to the IWC s Revised Management Procedure (RMP). However, such catch levels would only be safe if all the other supervision provisions of an effective, precautionary, and enforceable were in force. The RMS is still under discussion, and not yet adopted, in the IWC; The RMP accepted by the IWC is currently not being accurately applied by either Norway or Japan. This raises the presumption that similarly loose interpretations would be adopted by these states pursuant to a CITES downlisting. Norway sets its catch limits higher than those allowed by the agreed RMP, by unilaterally adjusting the RMP s tuning level. The RMP's objective is for the population being exploited to be around 72% of the initial population after 100 years, whereas the formula currently applied by Norway would lead to a population of only 62%. They have announced that this will be reduced still further in Japan issues permits without reference to the RMP in its scientific research programme of whaling. There is a high rate of incidental catches of northern minkes (ca 100 a year) off the Japanese coast, which should be deducted from any whaling catch limit. 3. Scientific uncertainty over population estimates A key factor in the IWC's decision to adopt a moratorium on all commercial whaling was the extent of scientific uncertainty over remaining whale population figures, after more than a century of intensive whaling activities that brought several species close to extinction. Extreme uncertainty remains for many whale populations, including many minke and Bryde s populations, and there remains no evidence for the assertion contained in Prop. 4 that these stocks have increased since the cessation of commercial whaling. Prop. 4 misleadingly provides a global minke whale population estimate of over a million. This estimate includes at least two separate species, both the primarily Northern Hemisphere species B. acutorostrata and the more common Southern Hemisphere B. bonaerensis. This figure is, in any

4 case, inaccurate: as the IWC Scientific Committee has no current estimate for the number of B. bonaerensis, but has stated it could be less than half the previous estimate of 760,000; There are serious concerns regarding harvest of the Okhotsk Sea-West Pacific stock, estimated by the IWC in 1990 within the wide range of 12,800 to 48,600. This stock is subject to a very high rate of by-catch in fishing nets on Japanese coasts (approximately 100 each year). It is closely adjacent, with some seasonal overlap in distribution, to the very small, protected Sea of Japan/Yellow Sea/East China Sea stock (the J stock) which was estimated in 1997 at only 893 animals. DNA analysis shows that some mixing of these stocks occurs, raising the possibility of detrimental impacts on this vulnerable stock. We note that at the 2001 IWC meeting, Japan asked that the scheduled computer trials for calculating quotas for the Okhotsk Sea/West Pacific stock (known as RMP simulations ) be delayed; The Northeast Atlantic and North Atlantic Central stocks were depleted by whaling. Recent population estimates for these stocks have been uncertain and spread over a wide range. The most recent estimate for the Northeast Atlantic, made on the basis of a Norwegian sightings survey and presented to the IWC in 2002, showed a small decrease in population (109,298 compared to 118,299 from their 1995 survey) and an increased level of uncertainty; Bryde s whales: All population estimates remain very uncertain (Bryde s are classified by IUCN as Data Deficient ). The official record of numbers taken in the western North Pacific in the 20th century is over 20,000, but the actual number is probably much higher. Some Japanese industry catch records were published in Japan in 2001, and showed the catch levels of Bryde s were up to 100% higher than those shown in official reports. The IWC Scientific Committee agreed in 2002 to investigate this further, but the Japanese government prohibited Japanese scientists from assisting the IWC with this work. 4. Role of whales in the ecosystem: are there too many whales? The purpose of including a section on role of the species in the ecosystem (section 2.6 in both proposals) appears to be to promote the proposition that whales need to be reduced in number (i.e. culled) because some whales eat some commercially exploited fish stocks, which would somehow be available to humans if there were fewer whales. This is a major over-simplification of the complexities of the marine food web. Furthermore, the objective of CITES is to ensure international trade does not threaten species, rather than facilitate deliberate reduction of numbers of particular species. It must be remembered that most whale populations exist at only small fractions of their pre-exploitation population levels, and that serious depletion of fish stocks is currently driven overwhelmingly by large scale overfishing, not by natural high-level predators. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that 47-50% of fish stocks are fully exploited by humans; another 15-18% are over-exploited; and 9-10% of stocks have been depleted or are recovering from depletion (FAO 2000). The world s fishing fleets continue to expand in size and capacity, even as scientists and fisheries ecologists worldwide call for reductions in capacity. Furthermore, over the long term, removal of high-level predators such as whales is likely to have a detrimental effect on commercial fish abundance, through disturbance of the complex relationships involved in the marine food web.

5 Additional considerations It should be noted that one of the species included in Japan s scientific whaling programme for 2002 and 2003 in the North Pacific ( JARPN II ) is the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), listed in CITES Appendix I. Japan has entered a reservation to this listing, but with the specific exclusion of populations in the North Pacific. Any introduction from the sea of sei whale parts or products from this scientific whaling programme for commercial sale in Japan would therefore be in violation of CITES provisions, particularly Article III, and would call into question Japan's commitment to CITES as well as to the IWC. Associated Resolutions CoP12 Doc : Co-operation between CITES and the International Whaling Commission (Mexico) WWF recommendation: Support This Resolution reinforces the continuing need for CITES and the IWC to play complementary roles in the conservation of whale populations, and advises that progress is being made in the IWC on the development of a comprehensive management regime for whaling. CoP12 Doc. 38: Controlled trade in specimens of abundant cetacean stocks (Japan) WWF recommendation: Oppose Many of the concerns listed above for Japan's whale downlisting proposals apply to this draft Resolution also, specifically those regarding the need for harmony between CITES and the IWC, the RMP, and DNA monitoring. In addition, WWF considers it is unacceptable to repeal Resolution Conf. 11.4, which includes a number of fundamental decisions, which should remain in force. In particular, the IWC has not rescinded either its zero catch limits for commercial whaling, or its requests for co-operation and support from the CITES Parties. Background The International Whaling Commission, the Revised Management Scheme, and current whaling The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established under the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), and is the sole international regulatory body charged with the management of cetaceans. The need for international co-operation for the conservation, management and study of cetaceans was recognised by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (Articles 65 and 120), and reaffirmed by Agenda 21 (Chapter 17) as essential for highly migratory marine species. All of the great whales are highly migratory species, many of them migrating annually between tropical and polar latitudes. As a result, no whale population can be said to belong to any one country, and the management of any whaling is a matter of international concern. In 1982, the IWC set zero quotas (the moratorium ) for all commercial catches of whales listed in the Schedule to the ICRW (including minke whales), to come into force in This decision was mirrored by the Parties to CITES when they agreed to include in Appendix I (effective from 1 Jan 1986) all species of whales not already on Appendix I (with the exception of the West Greenland stock of minke whales, which is listed in Appendix II) in order to ensure consistency with the IWC s decisions and in acknowledgement of the IWC s role in whale management.

6 One of the important reasons for the adoption of the moratorium by the IWC was the failure of its former management system to prevent the decimation of the world s whale populations by whalers from many nations. The IWC is now developing a Revised Management Scheme (RMS) which will include rules for setting safe catch limits (the Revised Management Procedure, or RMP) and binding supervision and control of all commercial whaling by IWC members. The IWC has been working on the complex details of the RMS for several years, and will not consider revising its zero catch limits until the RMS is adopted. At the most recent IWC annual meeting, in May 2002, progress was made with two versions of an RMS being voted on, although neither received enough votes to be adopted. It should be noted that Japan and Norway both voted against the RMS version that contained effective provisions for controlling commercial whaling, including a central DNA register for all legally marketable whales held by the IWC Secretariat, and the conservative version of the RMP tested and recommended by the IWC Scientific Committee and already accepted by the IWC. A further intersessional IWC meeting on the RMS will be held in October Despite the fact that the RMS is still under discussion in the IWC, Japan and Norway continue to bypass the moratorium by exploiting loopholes in the ICRW. Japan hunts northern minke, Bryde s, sperm and sei whales (which are classified as Endangered by IUCN) in the North Pacific, and Antarctic minkes in the Southern Ocean by exploiting the scientific research provisions of the ICRW. Norway, which filed an Objection (similar to a Reservation in CITES) to the moratorium, continues to catch northern minke whales in the North Atlantic. In 2002 these two countries have allocated themselves total quotas of 1374 whales. WWF s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by: conserving the world s biological diversity ensuring that the use of renewable resources is sustainable promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF International Species Programme Panda House, Weyside Park Godalming, Surrey GU7 1XR United Kingdom Panda symbol 1986 WWF WWF registered trademark Printed on recycled paper made from 100 per cent post consumer waste Project number 1506/September 2002

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