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President Clinton Directs U.S. Actions in Response to Japanese Whaling

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President Clinton Directs U.S. Actions in Response to Japanese Whaling

September 13, 2000

President Clinton today directed that Japan be denied access to allotments for fishing in U.S. waters to respond to Japan's recent decision to expand its whaling program to include two new species protected under U.S. law. He also directed members of the Cabinet to examine other options for his consideration, including trade and other economic measures, and to assess the economic activity in Japan associated with whaling.

President Clinton took these steps after receiving certification from the Secretary of Commerce that Japan is undermining international efforts to protect whales. Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 by the International Whaling Commission.

There is currently no foreign fishing in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. New allotments for foreign fishing in these waters are expected to be approved later this year for the first time in more than a decade. Unless Japan changes its whaling program, it will continue to be precluded from consideration for access.

Secretary of Commerce Mineta's certification of Japan today under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen's Protective Act of 1967 triggers a process for the President to consider trade sanctions against Japan and report any actions he may take to Congress within 60 days. The President directed his Cabinet to report back to him prior to the end of the 60-day period. The Departments of Treasury, Commerce, State, and Interior and the U.S. Trade Representative will look at additional measures, including such steps as ensuring that items imported into the United States do not include any whale by-products.

Today's announcement is part of a set of steps the Administration has taken since July when Japan broadened its whaling program from minke whales to include Byrde's and sperm whales which are protected under U.S. law. Japan's expanded whaling program has drawn strong protests from the scientific community and world leaders, including President Clinton. The International Whaling Commission also passed a resolution in early July calling on Japan to refrain from undertaking its expanded whaling program.

In August, the United States joined fourteen other countries in a diplomatic protest to the Japanese. In addition, the Administration has cancelled U.S. participation in two regional environmental meetings in Japan, has cancelled its annual fisheries meeting with Japan, and is working with other countries to oppose Japan's bid to host a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in January 2001.

Despite the ban on commercial whaling, Japan is using a provision of the International Whaling Commission for "scientific research" to sponsor its whaling program. International trade in whales is also banned under a separate treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The United States has strongly objected to the expansion of Japanese whaling in part because both new species are protected under U.S. law, and sperm whales are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

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