I had the privilege and pleasure yesterday of attending the National Junior SeaLife Conference in Birmingham UK. The conference brought together nine of the UK's most outstanding young advocates and scientists. In a range of presentations which spanned issues as diverse as bycatch and shark finning; the destruction of seals as scapegoats for over fishing; the conservation of coral reefs and the protection of cetaceans, we had some of the most imaginative demonstrations of the power of idealism and advocacy.
I was moved by the passion that these young people brought to the debates and the conviction by which they made their cases. As NGOs we regularly deal with governments and scientists, but the cynicism that we often encounter means that our drive to make change happen is often dented by the intractability of those who want nothing but the 'status quo'. It is so refreshing to hear the articulation of the vision of a world where real conservation and protection is envisaged.
All the entries were great but I wish to single out two of the presentations that tackled the issue of the conservation of whales and dolphins. Abigale Rudland told us about the ecology and threats to the beautiful Beluga whale, and Molly Clayton gave an informed presentation on whales and whaling.
I was really proud of both of the young women and their presentations reminded me of why its so important to keep up the work we are doing.
Well done guys and well done SeaLife for a great event.
In a cynical move to reject international opinion and the opinion of its own biological scientists, the Greenlandic Government has given its hunters higher quotas for small cetaceans. Sermitsiaq.gl reports that 'The government has set the combined quota for the haul of belugas and narwhales at 200 white whales and 300 narwhales in the coming quota year. In many areas the quotas are larger than the Institute for Natural Resources recommends.'
The applicable quota for white whales in West-Greenland is nearly double that of the Institute's recommendation. They recommend that the quota be a maximum of 100 mammals a year, but the government has set it at 180.
The latest tally estimates the total number of white whales (belugas) captured is 11,773. This is a sign of less progress, even though the quota until now has been more than the biologists' recommendation.
The applicable quota for narwhales in Qaanaaq and west-Greenland is 210, which is 75 more than the biologists recommend.
So, having failed to convince the international community at the IWC that it should be allowed to hunt humpbacks, the petulant Greenlandic Government is taking its revenge on more belugas and narwhals. Despite the fact that it was unable to repudiate accounts of commercialisation of the whale hunt, the Greenlandic government had claimed at the IWC meeting that it should be allowed to hunt more whales simply because it 'demands so'.
Like a spoilt child Greenland is reacting by hurting whatever it can. It knows that the international community will be horrified at its actions and it is hoping to blackmail governments like the UK into giving in the future. But this cynical move just demonstrates the role of Greenland in its support of the commercial whalers. It has systematically helped the cause of commercial whaling, (at the same time betraying the cause of aboriginal subsistence whaling) by seeking to distort the difference between commercial and aboriginal subsistence whaling.
I wonder if we are yet to see calls for commercal whaling quotas out of Greenland in the near future - nothing would now surprise me!