The plan spills-over and disrupts general coalitions between natives and other groups—makes sustainable conservation impossible
(Michael M'Gonigle is a professor of law at the University of Victoria and holds the Eco-Research chair of environmental law and policy. “More than one whale for the killing The Makah's hunt may have a wide ripple effect,” The Globe and Mail (Canada) May 27, 1999, Lexis)//BB
Meanwhile, outside the aboriginal community, much more is at issue with the reintroduction of whaling than the liberal sensitivities of urban news readers. With the large volume of whale meat associated with even a single kill, there can ultimately be only one destination for the products of multiple kills: the international marketplace. In 1997, aboriginal and non-aboriginal whaling interests established the World Council of Whalers, based in B.C. The council ardently supports the Makah hunt off Washington state and renewed whaling in B.C., but its general objective is even larger: the resumption of commercial whaling worldwide. This week, aboriginal leaders of the World Council of Whalers are present at the IWC to pressure it to this end. The IWC remains the biggest obstacle to a resumption of commercial whaling. Pro-whaling nations such as Japan and Norway threaten its regulations at every turn. Illegal whaling has never ended, a scourge of the IWC's attempt to enforce international law. Norway hunts whales in open defiance of commission regulations, while Japan whales under the guise of a so-called scientific permit. All this meat ends up on the market, making conservation enforcement for the many highly endangered species almost impossible. Whale meat from even the most depleted species, including the near-extinct blue whale, has recently been found in Japanese markets. As aboriginal whalers pursue their path, one of the greatest potential victims is, ironically, the growing non-aboriginal movement to support Native communities as "co-managers" of land and coastal resources. Throughout B.C., and around the world, Native and non-Native communities argue that together they are the proper stewards of the land and the sea. Unlike profit-seeking corporations and remote bureaucracies, they argue that they have to live with the consequences of their actions and are therefore best equipped to take proper care of them. Given past failures in resource management, many people have been sympathetic to this argument. However, most governments and businesses are not. In Native land-claims negotiations, for example, one of the prime considerations of federal and provincial negotiators is to ensure that whatever authority is devolved to local bands will not reduce the level of continued exploitation of local resources. This bias against local interests applies in spades to West Coast fisheries, where the brunt of conservation measures and tradeoffs with the Americans in negotiations over the Pacific Salmon Treaty is being borne by small fishers, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, in dying coastal communities. To reform unsustainable resource exploitation, and give life to rural communities, Native leaders will need to work with a range of interests -- non-aboriginal fishers, environmentalists, supportive civil servants and politicians, and urban sympathizers. It is in everyone's interests that they do so. Instead, renewed aboriginal whaling on the West Coast ignores these groups, and does so with actions that will inevitably undermine one of the hard-won, yet still fragile, successes in international environmental law.