The Pelly Amendment in International Environmental Law

Introduction

The Pelly amendment gives the president the mandate to prohibit imported commodities and products from certain countries. The prohibition only targets those countries that allow fishing operations that will undermine the efficacy of international fishery. The president has also been given the authority to direct the Secretary of Treasury to prohibit the importation of fish products.

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The prohibition will run for the duration that the Secretary of Treasury deems appropriate so long as the prohibition is consistent with the General agreements on trade and tariffs. If the Secretary decides to certify a country under the Pelly Amendment Act, the United States president will only have sixty days to make a decision as to whether the trade sanction will be issued to the offender or not. The Pelly amendment is contained in Section 8 of the Fishermen’s protective Act and became part of the 1954 statute. The United States Fish and Wildlife Services quote the Pelly amendment when negotiating on the convention on International trade in endangered species.

The international ban on commercial whaling has been defiant even though it has only been observed within a few countries. Commercial whaling depletes a great whale population. The debate over the desirability of hunting whales has risen for quite some time now and has been the impetus that led to the establishment of International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) which was signed in Washington DC.

The body was established to review the measures that had been laid down in the convention that governs whaling all through the world. It also caters for the protection of certain species, sets the limits in the number of whales that can be taken, designates some areas as specific whale sanctuaries and funds any research pertaining to whales.
The role of Penny Amendment in international environmental law

The whaling issue has been at the forefront of the environment and trade debate. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) which has been set up by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) established a moratorium on commercial whaling which allowed non-zero whaling quotas. The biological whale species consists of about eighty species and the whale commercialization is only confined towards the larger species.

The main reason for the commercialization of whales is their baleen, fat, bones and their meat. The whale meat is also a traditional source of food in the Japanese culture. The importance of the Penny amendment is that it seeks to protect the whales for the protection of the species. There are also the economic benefits of regulating the whale industry because it ensures the whale products are not oversupplied.

In international environmental law, the penny Amendment Act ensures that some species of whales are not exploited to a limited extent. This is because commercial whaling has been depleting the whale species, whereas it would take decades to increase the whale populations to the original size. However, whaling under scientific research or the aboriginal subsistence as per the provisions of ICRW is allowed.

Nevertheless, the Japanese nation has raised concerns on their objection of the aboriginal subsistence whaling because the Japanese government believes it is a retaliation strategy that only targets the anti-whaling nations. In 1984, Japan and the United States had come to a consensus where the Japanese were to cease commercial whaling by adhering to some set harvest limits.

The Regulation of commercialization of whaling also aims at limiting competition among companies which protects whales for later catching. The United States have thus been making a transition from a whale catching nation to a whale watching nation. Even though the International Whaling Commission (IWC) establishes a moratorium on commercial whaling, it does not have power to impose sanctions for any quota violations as it only enforces quotas that have been imposed by other International Fishery Conservation programs. In fact, this is what compelled the congress to enact the Penny Amendment act.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is an international voluntary organization and the member countries. Any member country may also leave the organization at their discretion. The organization has been confronted with a serious strain by those seeking protection of whales and those who seek a renewed utilization of whales. The future development of ICW is a function of the principles that the involuntary organization represents.

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