Monday, November 26, 2007

Apples, oranges and whales

The Los Angeles Times published this week-end a story based on an interview with Joji Morishita of the international division of the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

Since I came back to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) after an absence of nearly 25 years, I have found that Joji was one of the most interesting characters in the very large IWC annual meetings. I told him a few months ago that I liked the fact that he was behaving like a campaigner at the meetings. Regardless of what side they're on, good campaigners can understand each others, because they have a lot in common. One thing that all good campaigners know is that they need an exit strategy at some point.

[Maybe we need a Geneva Convention to set rules for advocacy campaigners]

Reading Joji's statement in The LA Times this week-end, I'm not entirely sure if time has come. Or I wonder if time has already passed, for a mutually acceptable exit strategy (one that can work for whales, the resource we all want to conserve, of course).

Joji says "we are prepared to protect the way of life for small communities". I think no-one, or very few people would dispute that.

But in the LA Times article, coastal and Antarctic whaling are put in the same basket, though the latter has nothing to do with small communities, and very little about tradition. They're like apples and oranges in many ways.

It's hard to know if the confusion was entertained by the reporter, or by Joji.

Or by both.

I expect we'll know more after the Pew-sponsored symposium we're organizing in Tokyo at the end of January.

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