Brundtland Criticized

1992 Commencement Speaker Backs Whalers

Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the featured speaker at Harvard's 1992 Commencement exercises, has come under fire for her country's open defiance of a recent international ban on all commercial whaling.

In a full-page ad that ran in yesterday's New York Times, the Animal Welfare Institute dubbed Brundtland "the architect of Norway's outlaw whaling policy" and called for President Clinton to impose strict economic sanctions on Norway.

Despite the International Whaling Commission's recent 18-6 vote to outlaw commercial whaling, Norway's commercial and pirate fishers have since continued to hunt.

Brundtland, hailed by many as an environmentalist and advocate of ecological responsibility, received an honorary degree from Harvard the day of her June 1992 address.

The prime minister defends the whaling industry by citing the principle of "substantial development," which holds that if limited numbers of whales are killed each year, their overall population will not be adversely affected.


Rotch Professor of Atmospheric Science Michael B. McElroy, who served on the committee that recommended Brundtland for an honorary degree, said yesterday that he does not believe in the concept of substantial development.

But McElroy defended the committee's 1992 decision, citing Brundtland's efforts to increase awareness of environmental issues worldwide.

The whaling issue is "clearly a subject that needs diplomatic attention," McElroy said.

A 1985 report by the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee identified one species of whale, now being hunted in the northeast Atlantic, as so vulnerable that killing only one would adversely impact the population.

"Norway is simply defying the wishes of the IWC," said Christine Stevens, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, the corporation that ran the ad.

Stevens said she disagrees with the concept of substantial development, claiming that it is almost impossible, in practice, to strike a balance between hunting and conservation.

"Substantial development works in theory, but if you deplete your resource, it fails instantly," Stevens said.

Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography James J. McCarthy warned that if Norway is allowed to continuewhaling, other countries might follow suit.

"I am not optimistic about an internationalagreement that would lead to sustainable levels ofharvest," McCarthy said.

"Norway is on a course bound to have politicalrepercussions," the professor added