The 64th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission and the associated meetings of its Scientific Committee and other sub-groups was held in Panama City, Panama from 11 June – 6 July 2012.
This is South Korea’s position:
By the Head of the Republic of Korea Delegation, Dr. Joon-Suk Kang
Mr. Chairman, distinguished Commissioners, delegates, and NGO members.
It is my great pleasure to attend the 64th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in this beautiful Panama City. As the head of the Korean delegation, I would like to congratulate the Government of Panama on hosting this meeting and to express my sincere gratitude to the IWC Secretariat for arranging this meaningful meeting.
To start with, I wish to remind you that the Republic of Korea has been endowed with a very long history of active whaling. Korea’s whaling history dates back to prehistoric times, and whale meat is still part of a culinary tradition of some of Korea’s local areas such as Ulsan. Historically, Korea’s whaling took place in the form of subsistence fishing for food, similar to Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW). It is reported that 35 species are living around Korean Peninsula. In the 1970s and 1980s up to the Moratorium, for example, about 1,000 minke whales were captured annually around the Korean peninsula. However, the long coastal whaling tradition for livelihood and nutritional purposes was suspended in 1986 in compliance with the IWC decision.
At the time, the Korean government had to enforce the whalers to scrap all the whaling vessels completely, promising that they would be able to resume whaling upon the recovery of the resources. With this, the Ulsan community has long been waiting for the IWC to lift the ban for more than a quarter of a century. Good faith and pacta sunt servanda constitute the two fundamental principles of international relations.
In this context, I must, once again, draw your attention to Article 10(e) of the Convention Schedule which requires this Commission to undertake, upon the best scientific advice, a comprehensive assessment of the effects of the decision and to consider modification of the provision. However, it is unfortunate to witness that this process has been stalled by unnecessary political arguments.
The Republic of Korea has been respecting and strictly implementing the Commission's polices and decisions. Illegal whaling has been strictly banned and subject to strong punishment. The government also recently adopted a new ministerial Directive on the Conservation and Management of Whale Resources to establish a transparent system of distribution for stranded or by-caught whale meats.
It has been also reported that the minke whale population in the north Pacific has recovered considerably to the level maintained before the Moratorium. As a result, fishermen in this area are consistently calling for limited whaling. This is because they are experiencing disturbances in their fishing activities due to frequent occurrences of cetaceans in their fishing grounds and an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being. We therefore hope that this Commission will set in motion the review procedure as a matter of urgency to reinstate traditional coastal whaling for the future of the IWC.
Since 2001, the Korean government has been conducting a non-lethal sighting survey of the whale population to assess the status of the stock in Korean waters. But it has turned out that this survey alone cannot identify the different whale stocks and has delayed the proper assessment of the resources. It also cannot correctly identify the feeding habits of these animals and thus the impact of the whale population on the fisheries resources as a whole.
In order to meet Korean fishermen’s request and make up for the weak point in a non-lethal sighting survey, the Korean government is currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research in accordance with Article VIII of the Convention. The proposed scientific research program is designed to analyze and accumulate biological and ecological data on the
minke whales migrating off the Korean peninsula. This research program will provide more comprehensive and detailed scientific information on the stocks and their interaction with other stocks will be more available. The Korean government is planning to submit research plan to the next Scientific Committee in due course. I hope that the research plan will be given the highest consideration at the next Scientific Committee meeting of the IWC.
As a member of the IWC, the Korean government is privileged to remind all the IWC delegations that the primary objective of the Convention is to ensure a proper conservation of whale species and stocks and an orderly development of the whaling industry. And in the consistent view of our government, it is essential that member governments mutually recognize the importance of cultural diversity and heritage of other countries. Any differences should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation based on mutual understanding.
The Korean government is committed to striving to achieve the Conventional objective of striking a balance between the conservation and sustainable utilization of whale resources. We hope that each member of this Commission will actively contribute to making the normalization process move forward for attaining the common goal of the effective management of the whale resources.
Thank you very much.
If you wish to register an objection to South Korea’s intention to commence commercial whaling under the guise of ‘scientific research’, this is the person to write to in Australia.
His Excellency Cho Tae-yong
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
113 Empire Circuit,
Tel : (61 2) 6270-4100
Fax : (61 2) 6273-4839
E-mail : email@example.com