Demonstrations occurred in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and New Zealand following an an illegal agreement between the United States and Japan over the international ban on the killing of sperm whales.
Negotiations, late last year, between the two nations, permitted the Japanese to negate the moratorium placed on sperm whales by the 40-member International Whaling Commission (IWC) which originally imposed the ban until 1996. U.S. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge announced on November 13, 1984, that the U.S. and Japan had reached an agreement permitting Japan to continue to catch sperm whales in 1984 and 1985. The U.S. would refrain from imposing the mandatory sanctions and placed a yearly limit of 400 whales.
The Packwood-Magnuson amendment to the 1976 Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires Washington to punish countries that “diminish the effectiveness” of the international whaling measure by curtailing their fishing rights within the U.S. 200 mile territorial waters by as much as 50 percent.
Japan relies on the fishing rights to feed their nation. In 1983, Japan accounted for nearly 75 percent of the 1.3 million metric tons of fish taken out of the U.S.’s 200 mile limit by foreign fishermen.
Slashing their intake by 50% would cripple their fishing industry.
While the United States sees the 1984 agreement as an important step in the reduction of the Japanese whaling industry, Japan sees it differently. They say that the agreement only limits the slaughter, but in no means outlines any plan for them to stop whaling in the future, despite contradictory statements from both sides.
If the U.S. continues to condone Japan’s actions without fear of penalty, it will encourage other nations to circumvent the moratorium as well. If this happens, the sperm whale count will reach dangerously low levels and their reproductive rate will be severely diminished, thereby furthering the decimation of the species.
TIME MAGAZINE, 12/3/84, “Stirring Up a Whale of a Storm,” by Peter Stoler; NEW YORK TIMES, 11/12/84, “U.S. – Japan Accord on Whales is Reported,” and 11/15/84, “Japan Denies Pact to End All Whaling,” by Susan Chira.