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Commentary: Japanese whaling: Technical and development assistance
Published on April 12, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Dr Edsel Edmunds

An article published in Caribbean News Now, attributed to the Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM), headlined St Lucian government challenged on continued Japanese aid, attempts to link the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Japanese whaling in the Antarctic with future Japanese assistance to St Lucia, is an example of lack of understanding of issues related to whaling and St Lucia’s participation in the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Dr Edsel Edmunds is a former Senior Research Fellow, UWI St Augustine Campus, former Senator, Ambassador of St Lucia to the UN, OAS, and US, Founder and Patron of the St Lucia National Research and Development Foundation and Pioneer in the conservation movement in St Lucia
First of all, it should be explained that the ruling of the ICJ was in relation to the special permits granted to Japan fisheries for whaling in the Antarctic for scientific purposes. The IWC Convention, which is the governing body regulating whaling activities, allows for whaling for purposes of scientific research.

The Japanese permit for the catch of whales in the Antarctic was challenged by Australia and the ICJ ruled against Japan stating that there was a lack of scientific evidence, and further the sample size did not support the scientific credibility of Japan’s position on scientific research on this matter in the area in question and the lethal methodology in use by that country.

As a former St Lucian Commissioner to IWC, St Lucia’s position on whaling has been guided by the principle of the sustainable utilization of marine resources based upon science and in consultation with leading scientists from the fisheries departments of various countries (including anti-whaling countries). St Lucia was also guided by the findings and reports of the IWC Scientific Committee and distinguished marine biologists from around the world including our marine scientists from the OECS.

The ruling of the ICJ pertains to one region of the world and is related to one issue that was under consideration. From published reports it is clear that Japan will abide by the ruling of the court but it does not alter its position, nor should it alter ours on the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

Assistance from Japan to our fisheries, although significant to us, is small compared to its global contribution to developing countries. I have in the past recommended that we explore other areas of development assistance from Japan in addition to our fisheries assistance which is contributing significantly to this sector of our development.

I see no reason to press an alarm button on the ICJ ruling and contend that it will have no influence on assistance to us from that country. Japan has the resources to adjust its whaling activities to meet research and other needs. St Lucia should continue to abide by the principle of the sustainable utilization of marine resources. This is sound science devoid of emotion. As with some more developed and developing countries this can be done together with whale watching and other such activities.
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Therold Prudent/LPM:

The LPM fully understood the court's ruling, and this was amply demonstrated in our explanation of what the legal argument was all about at the ICJ. We never claimed that the ruling prohibited Japan from conducting whaling exercises in other waters but, rather, the most profitable body of water (The Antarctic Ocean) is now closed to Japanese whaling interests.

Additionally, our contention was never about the merit or demerit of the science, but about the economic consequence for Japanese whaling. Naturally, if this sector were to experience huge financial losses as a result of a shrinking area to whale, it may very well decide to scale back its technical and financial contributions to other nations such as Saint Lucia.

Besides the court's ruling, which has placed tremendous restrictions on the future profitability of Japanese whaling, it's a known fact that a decreased demand for whale meat in Japan has had its own negative effect on that industry.

Therefore, if there is anyone who seems confused about the ramifications of court's ruling, then it is clearly Dr. Edsel Edmonds. To argue in favor of scientific research is one thing, but to completely misunderstand the financial constraints which such a legal ruling places on the profitability of Japanese whaling really baffles us in the LPM.

And anyway, where does the utilization of our marine resources in Saint Lucia fall into the equation of the court's ruling? I thought the ruling was based on scientific whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, which is thousands of miles from the Caribbean Sea.


I agree. I think Dr Edmunds has misdirected himself on the LPM's position, namely, since Japan no longer needs votes at the IWC, will it now stop the aid it was giving to St Lucia and other Caribbean islands in exchange for those votes and how, if at all, has the government of St Lucia addressed this possibility.

This point was raised by Sir Ronald Sanders on this website a week ago (

"Many international observers expressed the view that Japan had cynically taken advantage of the very small and resource-poor Caribbean and Pacific states by requiring their votes in return for aid... Should Japan abandon the whaling exercise, it is hardly likely to continue to give support for the attendance and voting at IWC meetings for the small states that have voted with it."

Perhaps Dr Edmunds would care to explore whether or not the government of St Lucia has acted on his past recommendation "that we explore other areas of development assistance from Japan in addition to our fisheries assistance which is contributing significantly to this sector of our development."

His contention that the ICJ ruling "will have no influence on assistance to us from that country (Japan)" seems to be at adds with the facts of matter as set out by the LPM and Sir Ronald Sanders.


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