The Chairman starts the afternoon session by thanking the Finance and Administration Committee for meeting over lunch. A coffee break is promised for 16.30.
Let’s All Go Whale Watching
The Chairman of the Conservation Committee takes us through the report of his committee on whale watching. The work of the Scientific Committee on this issue is reported on via the Conservation Committee report.
India notes the importance of the work of the two committees on whale watching and how it can provide sustainable livelihoods to people.
The Conservation Committee Chair notes a discussion in the Scientific Committee about how to liaise between them, and they want a liaison officer.
The meeting is suddenly awoken by a loud greeting made in Maori by one of the delegates from New Zealand. She speaks strongly, now in English, in support of work on whale watching.
Argentina describes the development of a plan on whale watching to run for five years. He offers to host the workshop on whale watching in Buenos Aires in November.
Australia (the Minister speaking) thanks Argentina for its leadership, and offer to host the next whale watching workshop, and he expects interest in the use of the tools that the workshop will provide will grow as more countries become involved. Australia will provide 20,000 dollars for the workshop; it urges the Commission to endorse the draft strategic plan and workshop.
Uruguay speaks up in favour of whale watching too and so do other countries.
Whale watching is also favoured by the UK, which notes that ‘assessing a country’s suite of opportunities for whale watching using the consistent approach that the workshop will develop will support a reliable and effective management regime for future opportunities’.
The Brazilian Commissioner makes an explosive intervention on whale watching… it is so fast and furious that the translators seem unable to cope, except for the last few words, when he is looking forward to going to Buenos Aires.
The Mexican Commissioner reminds us of something in the Scientific Committee report – problems in the Mekong for the dolphins there. He thanks Dr Kato – the retiring Chairman of the Scientific Committee’s Whale Watching group.
Luxembourg celebrates income generation from this ‘form of terrorism’ [this may have been a mispronunciation from the translator as the Commissioner was speaking in French and the scribe listening in English, and it seems unlikely that he would be promoting whale watching terrorism] and he congratulates Argentina.
Argentina thanks the US and Australia for financial support and mentions the great world expert on whale watching, Erich Hoyt.
The USA thanks Argentina and others, including Dr Kato from Japan for his work as chair of the sub-committee for more than ten years.
Any other comments, asks the Acting Chair Man expectantly.
Cameroon has a lack of security in its waters and this industry is far too luxurious for some nations.
Despite this, the report is noted and agreed.
Cooperation with other organisations is dealt with as read. No comments. We want our tea break.
Pierre of Luxembourg
The Aboriginal Hunts – The temperature starts to rise.
The Portuguese commissioner, who ably chaired the working group on the aboriginal hunts, now takes us through his report (into which the Scientific Committee has also reported).
He reports on catches and sitting alongside of him, we see the redoubtable Greg Donovan, Head of the Scientific Committee. The BCB bowheads stocks are noted; 112 Grey whales were taken in Russia, one was struck and lost; ‘stinky whales’ are mentioned (grey whales with a strong smell). There is a pause… no comment.
But the tension is building in the room.
The coffee staff are noisy, throwing crockery around in the service passage along the side of the Great Hall. We move to the west Greenland stock of fin whales – a quota of 19 has been agreed apparently and this can run for two five year periods [that may prove handy]: for Greenland’s bowheads, the strike limit is two whales (the committee again says the catch limit will not harm the stocks); North Atlantic humpbacks: 3 females caught have been reported caught in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and annual catch information requested (a scientist from the small island nations is reported to have been sighted in the committee).
Greenland calculates its quotas based on weight of meat and other edible products and this has been the focus of much debate and a lovely colour brochure, now on the front of the IWC website. Anyway, no one cares about this very much now and the discussion about the conversion factors for edible products is short. The UK noted the hunt’s low efficiency (or much meat wasted) and Denmark described how it was improving things. Bowheads were inefficiently taken this year according to the press said the UK; and Denmark said it would probably report on them next year.
No comments follow.
We move to the aboriginal subsistence quotas and the temperature starts to soar.
Here come the green papers and the big debate about which agenda is open and why. So before we get into this, here is an explanation.
The Acting Chair did not close agenda item 3 yesterday. This is the item about the Future of the IWC under which we have been discussing The Deal. By not closing it, he has left the possibility that some aspect of The Deal may resurface and, as we already found out, a proposal for aboriginal quotas derived from the deal landed in the pigeon holes late yesterday. This now forms a proposal for all aboriginal quotas made jointly by the US and Denmark (the ‘joint proposal’). There is also another proposal – the ‘Denmark proposal’ – which asks for a new take of ten humpbacks.
The debate starts with Japan saying that Agenda Item 3 is appropriate for the joint proposal. There is commonality between the proposals he says but they should be considered separately, with The Denmark proposal considered under 6.3.
The USA says its [joint] proposal was originally under item 3, but we feel it is related to either item, it may be a technical item. We feel it fits well here and countries have had notice of this for the last 60 days and overnight and we want to discuss it today [last few words are loud]. We can be technical or pragmatic, as long as we discuss it today.
The Acting Chair suggest that he was only holding the agenda item 3 open for a proposal on future work. This was my rationale Japan for not putting it under 3.
Japan would like to hear the opinion of others and needs to have time for some internal consultation.
Argentina: My delegation was one that gave an opinion this morning about the status of agenda item 3 – this is open exclusively for future work. Now you are saying that a document submitted at the last minute should be discussed under this. It is difficult to give an opinion. We may need to await instructions from our government and talk to the Buenos Aires group.
Mexico: we also find ourselves in a quandary. Yesterday we sent a report to Mexico and we have reported back about matters requiring discussion. Agenda 3 subsistence matters are finished. We too need instructions from our government. We propose this is held in abeyance.
Iceland says we must discuss the Danish proposal today. We could not take a decision in Florida as we had no quorum. The document 62/26 [the joint one] was a surprise – we had a policy of not taking each other by surprise; so I would treat them very differently.
USA: We appreciate comments by the other distinguished commissioners but this is not a complete surprise – the idea that aboriginal subsistence whaling would be held in abeyance during other discussions here is not new. We want to have this discussed. We want this quota out of the debate; it should stand on its own; we are owed the opportunity to know how others feel. Others have said I understand your need for your quota but I might need something else. These quotas cannot be a bargaining chip. I cannot stress enough that these discussions have been a long time coming. We need to know what this body’s view is of aboriginal subsistence whaling…
Acting Chair: I suggest a private commissioners meeting.
[From which civil society will be excluded]
Do I have your support. I see no objection…
Japan: I just question the procedure. We are prepared to discuss the Denmark proposal [not the joint one.]
USA: we have had private time; there is no reason to fear having a discussion here. Let us have a civil discussion here. Our work should be done in the open. A private commissioners meeting is not the way to do this. We seek to speak today.
Acting Chair: I wanted the private commissioners meeting to discuss how to handle the document.
Israel speaks for the first time and thanks the host. There is no harm in the delegations who submitted their proposal describing their proposals. We don’t need to take a decision, let us just hear from them.
The USA agrees ‘whole-heartedly’. This is not completely new ground; we are not asking for a decisions today
Vice Chair: so let us begin our discussions with a presentation
But Brazil says he has the same concerns as Argentina and Chile. We will not have time to take a decision. We are willing to listen but we will not be able to take a decision. We will not be able to get a decision.
Vice Chair: USA seeks discussion not decision; do I have general support?
Mexico: we shall listen carefully, but my delegation will not discuss content; we reserve the right to discuss later.
Acting Chair – so we have a presentation on 25 and then only a discussion on 26.
Japan – I don’t wish to be difficult but we need time for consultation.
Acting Chair: so we proceed with presentation
Denmark: we have been in this position before; it can be no secret that our patience can be found on a very small plaice… please respect scientific advice. We need to put this into context – firstly our minister and we request that the vote takes place tomorrow. The Minister thanks Monaco for the hospitality in her language and makes a statement. She is here to underline her country’s commitment to international dialogue. She is concerned that the IWC is being violated; this has been ongoing for too many years; everyone must keep up their principles. I have advocated for increased sustainable use of living resources in Greenland. We much listen to each other and respect each others differences. Seals and whales are the biggest competitors with our hunters.
She continues: We are also affected by EU politics – the EU seal ban has effectively destroyed our seal market. For self-governance we have to use all material available to us and we need to limit the importance of western food and lower carbon output. Our traditional food has been evaluated by health experts and they are healthier than imported food. Shared stocks should be dealt with by the appropriate international body. We have fulfilled all the requirements made of us but some keep trying to find new ways to block our request.
Some parties and groups question the use of money… no one can become a millionaire from whale hunt in Greenland….
The minister is followed by someone from the Greenlandic hunters association and then another spokesperson.
At the end, Japan thanks Greenland for proposal, and announces that he has finished consultation. I would like to be helpful, says the Japanese alternate commissioner, and we agree to listen to the [Joint Proposal] by reopening agenda 3.
[This leads to a sharp intake of breath all around the Great Hall of Agadir and protest from several Latin American countries led by Costa Rica and with Australia agreeing].
Fortunately France has thought of something else that we can do and speaks to say we should now listen to the NGOs. He is supported by Sweden and Monaco.
Sweden – we support France.
But the battle over agenda 3 continues – it I still open insists Norway.
New Zealand agrees and says lets get on with the substantive matters and not this legal wrangling.
Iceland also agrees with this and wishes to hear the NGOs.
The Acting Chairman says he is looking for a consensual way forward. He says he has been indulging Japan. As a form of compromise is needed, let us have the document by the USA presented and a discussion.
Cameroon speaks to support Iceland.
Iceland – I only propose we hear the US proposal.
USA: we will be brief. We need to get through our agenda items by doing them.
Argentina reiterates that they are willing to listen to the proposal but not under item 3.
Acting Chair: there is a willingness to listen to the proposal. I propose that we allow the US to make the presentation but not under a particular proposal.
Japan: we can accept that [it is as if they speak for many because the US presentation starts almost immediately.]
USA: we understand that commissioners wanted aboriginal whaling separated from the rest of the proposal. We are one of the four countries that has aboriginal peoples; we do not wish them used as a negotiating chip ‘by both sides’; this is used for whatever is wanted at the time. The indigenous peoples have worked constructively even though they have been treated as a pawn. Aboriginal subsistence is well managed; this extends to the relevant bowhead stocks. It is industrialised whaling that brought these whales to the brink of extinction. So we propose here to give some sort of relief to these peoples, whilst this body seeks an end to its long standing problems. She refers again to pro- and anti-whaling nations using the hunts as a bargaining chip. We urge all the members of the commission to take a legitimate need off the table. I can only take it from the earlier discussion that many governments mean to keep it there.
The USA will have to decide if its indigenous hunters will get a fair shake from this commission. I know many countries wish to take things home for their own interest. We need to know this; we need candour. I understand that it is late and I would like to hear from commissioners.
Mexico – I thank the US commissioner for this presentation. It is difficult for me to digest. Through you Chairman, I ask the US Commissioner to provide us with the written presentation, so we can study it in detail.
Acting Chair says that the interpreters will kindly allow the presentations of NGOs. [Thank you.]
WWF speaks first and amongst other things is concerned about the failure to allow NGOs to speak more fully here. A fisheries group, says that conservation NGOs are to blame for the failure of the process. It has been a rare opportintry to end all the acrimonious debates… and he continues on similar theme.
[A few bored people are wondering around in the margins, photographing other peoples computer screens – we chased a few of these away earlier. What do they do with all these photos? What is this strange fetish?
What will the NGOs say? Does anyone care? Will there be dancing with fans? Commissioners settle into their seats for a little entertainment.]
We remind gentle readers that this is not a verbatim report but we try to capture the gist of what is being said and something of the experience of being based here and we welcome corrections.
Sue of WDCS and a friend
The Chairman starts the afternoon session by thanking the Finance and Administration Committee for meeting over lunch. A coffee break is promised for 16.30.
That's it for Thursday, no vote on Greenland, but maybe tomorrow, but the Mainichi Daily reports that , 'domestic consumption of whale meat -- long considered a
source of protein for Japanese -- has been on the decline. According to
the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries statistics, domestic
whale meat consumption dropped from 230,000 tons in fiscal 1962 to
5,000 tons in fiscal 2008. As of the end of 2009, 4,246 tons of whale
meat -- almost equivalent to total annual consumption -- remains in
So please, Japan, stop pushing this huge pile of whale meat up a hill. I am sure there are legitimate things you could spend you hard earned overseas aid on.
The US notes that ASW should be replaced with discussions of indigenous peoples, and that they should be "removed form the debate about commercial whaling, where they have been used as bargaining chips in other debates."
What the delegate for the US does not mention is the fact that it was the US that put ASW quotas into the Table 4 of the Chairman's proposal and mixed the two issues in the first place.
Okay, back to the issue at hand. The US says indigenous whalers need some ten years block quotas so that commercial and scientific whaling can be addressed separately.
The US accuses other countries of wanting to keep this issue open because they want to use this as a bargaining tool. The delegate says that other countries have said to the US that they cannot grant their quota without some trade off.
Okay that's honest at least, - and maybe revealing a little more to the world than most countries would actually like to have been said.
The US has walked into a trap here at the IWC. In wanting to get its ASW quota through, its allowed Japan to try and open the agenda item 3. 'The Future Process'. This of course means that they get to debate the issue of commercial whaling again.
Now how do they get out of this?
Actually, they are asking to postpone the NGOs statements (which should have happened yesterday) so that they can speak.
Oh, getting messy now!
If anyone wants to see this live, you can here by the way
Norway has now just pointed out that Agenda Item 3 is open, and claims that anyting can be discussed.
The Chairman is now trying to muster support for delaying the US presentation until tomorrow.
The US complains that the debate is stopping it from actually giving its presentation.
The Chairman notes that the US should be allowed to present, and by teh way Agenda 3 is still open. (ouch!)
It looks like the humpbacks may have been stitched up, more to come. This is going to be odd blog as its going to refresh as the presentation by Denmark at the IWC takes place.
The USA, who sought to 'slam dunk' their ASW quotas through with everyone elses, may have been outmaneuvered by the Chairman and whalers.
Denmark has been able to get its application presented on its own and having made promises to reduce quotas on other species, now seems to be pushing ahead with its quotas.
In its presentation, Greenland notes that groups (WDCS and WSPA) have mentioned that they do have commercial elements in their hunts, but (and maybe reflecting on Loftsson's comments), "no Greenlander will be a millionaire from whaling".
Now they attack the EU for 'petty domestic politics and being the early hunters of 'their ' whales.
Now argue for trade in whale products - I feel the slide towards commercial whaling getting strong here.
Now Greenland threatens to leave if they are not given their demands, saying the results of his discussion will determine this issue - i.e. "give us our whales or we walk".
My real problem with this is that our [WDCS]investigations show that some Greenlanders are abusing the rights of those that really need to hunt. This proposal when it goes through will make their futures more tenuous.
Ah, and now we hear the arguments for Humpbacks, on the grounds that its 'opportunistic'
Now the presentation discusses commercialization: basically saying that whales are hunted all over the place and meat needs to be moved around the country,
Grenades cost $1400, and some whales need 2 grenades, and crews need to be paid.
Supermarkets are important for moving food around the country, 'but all sharing is with greenlanders'
They have just said that 'It is true that commercial and ASW are intertwined, there is no difference'. But Greenland argues that "profit maximization is not the driver in Greenland".
Now we have argument for tonnage needed (that's tonnage for hotels as well of course, as teh WDCS report indicates).
Greenland now argue for multispecies management of species.
Now Denmark has just moved to put the vote off until tomorrow. Lets see what happens now
The Voice of Civil Society becomes a whisper
Outside small red taxis are zooming around. Delegates and many non-governmental observations [NGOs] representing conservation groups and other organsations emerge from their various hotels. The smart security police line the pavements, and security guards check badges as delegates enter. Not very far away tourists of many nations enjoy the sea front, common bulbuls sing their morning songs and cats rest after a long night of ‘singing’.
We, however, are back in the vast meeting room with its randomly directed spot lights, snares of electricity cables, and small flags marking the places of each nation. We have to be very efficient today stresses the Acting Chair speaking from the podium at the front of the room, because we are very much behind schedule.
Item number 3 remains open, as requested by Commissioners and the Acting Chair says that he is still working on some ideas on how to move forward during the ‘period of reflection’. He urges people to be brief and to the point and associate with others where appropriate.
Do the NGO interventions that were cancelled from the end of yesterday start this mornings’ session, as might be logical? No. They will be at the end of this new day. [Unless presumably something more important comes up and, of course, the later in the meeting they speak the less relevant their comments will be – if at all] . The finance and administration committee will meet at lunch time, so that is something to look forward to, as the NGOs will be excluded from this. Excluding NGOs (sometimes called civil society) is popular here.
He then draws our attention to two new green documents that relate to quotas (see last blog entry).
There is then some discussion on what agenda items are open and why. This may prove to be a critical issue.
Argentina assumed that point 3 was left open and this, she says, was because we needed to work out how to handle the reflection time; but, she here addresses the Chair, you also mentioned 6 and we should leave 6.3 for tomorrow. It would not be best to put them off to the very end of the meeting, in case commissioners need to leave; we should finish them today. For 3 we understand that all that is left is the period of reflection discussion and 6 we should finish today.
Acting Chair: I am keeping 6.3 just for consultation, we have up until Friday to complete our meeting, to ensure that we maintain the [good] atmosphere we have here. I want to provide as much opportunity for consensus.
USA: Good morning and thank you. We agree with the Commissioner from
Mexico: the only thing we have pending is how we use this [intersessional] break; we are not prepared to consider any other proposal under this agenda item.
Chair: Yesterday I suggested a strong period of reflection and another reason for holding agenda item 3 is how to deal with this period. This is another reason for keeping this open. He seeks clarification from the
She explains it is 6.3 she wants kept open. Sometimes the discussion in the plenary really helps us, she adds.
Australia: we received two [green] documents yesterday – one of these states it is for agenda 3 but the
USA: There is no doubt that everyone saw this 60 days ago. You could have it at various points on the agenda – we could avoid all business and recite the things we always to. We came here to see how to move the IWC forward and we see this as part of this.
Chair: we have a packed agenda, we need time to consult and be engaged. I don’t want to spend too much time to look at these items.
Brazil: agenda 3 should be open but only to discuss the period of reflection.
Denmark: we have two proposals – we would prefer some hours to allow consideration.
Iceland: we have two proposals in front of us; one of these caught us by surprise. He associates with
Costa Rica aligns itself with
Chair – so we will engage in consultation and engagement and now do I have your support to move on. It seems that he does as no one else speaks [and to the scribe at least this matter remains confused. There is obviously an argument that the
Back to the Scientific Committee
We move to revised management procedures (the device that provides catch quotas for commercial whaling) and Dr Debbie Palka, the Chair of the Scientific Committee, takes us through this complicated text.
The distinguished scientist from
North West Pacific minke whales
Dr Debbie presents the report clearly and crisply. (A vast amount of work – including days of discussion at high level in the scientific committee is detailed in just a few minutes.)
Japan refers to annex G1 of something that probably only he has in front of him by way of giving
The Scientific Committee report is approved and we move on.
The Conservation versus Management Plans
Soon we are swimming through the report of the Conservation Committee. The distinguished scientist from
We go to agenda item 8.2. This was part of the consensus document but the chair notes that some countries still wish to speak on this. The proposed South Atlantic Whale sanctuary was first suggested in 2002, and should remain on the agenda.
Remarkably for something that used to be the focus of heated debates, there are no further comments.
Japan reserves the right to propose a small type coastal whaling amendment to the schedule here. As item 3 is still open, he says that he may like to come back to this. [Something to look forward to.]
We move on to that part of the Scientific Committee report that deals with special permits - the devices used by whaling nations to conduct scientific whaling. In the past this too has been a major debate.
Australia saying that he does not wish to prolong the item [probably hoping for some NGO interventions, and notes that a broad range of views remains within the Scientific Committee, even though this is only now briefly discussed in the Scientific Committee Report. He refers to a minority statement.
The Chair tries to move to a coffee break but the dream of pastries disappears from view when
Coffee time lands.
There is lots of co-ordination occurring and … yes…. some pastries are available.
Sir Geoffrey interviewed
Back to item 10 says
Into the Wider Environment
We move to environmental issues and Dr Debbie tells us about the work of the scientific committee in this sphere – she talks about research in the
Debbie moves on to the presentations made on the oil spill in the
Debbie suggests that it should be discussed at the next meeting of the Scientific Committee and the
SOCER BREAKS OUT
Dr Debbie updates the Commission on the State of the Environment Report (SOCER) – and many delegates are disappointed as they hoped this might relate to the world cup from the Scientific Committee which focused this year on the
Any comments says the Acting Chair? Swift tumbleweed. None
Anthropogenic sound is approached now. This was a special focus for the Scientific Committee this year and the scientific committee made a range of recommendations, especially to do with shipping noise. Debbie describes them.
The Chair notes that the Scientific Committee’s recommendations are approved – on we move.
We move to the disease work of the Scientific Committee. Then under ‘other’, Marine Renewable Devices’ are identified as something that need more attention and a focus for next year’s work. In the SC report we find this text ‘…the Committee strongly recommends that countries co-operate to limit impacts on marine wildlife from these sources’.
The Chair rules that all recommendations are agreed.
We move to Ecosystems Modelling. Models have been reviewed; validations considered; working groups elaborated; and, generally, a good time had by all.
The Chairman acknowledges the wide range of activities being detailed here and we move on to reports from the contracting governments on environmental matters.
[Here we have a small wager that Monaco will raise the issue and few others support; Norway will say something unhelpful; and no progress will be made in terms of liason with the World Health Organisation – WHO – so here we go.]
But we start with
Others make similar sentiments.
The Executive Secretary simply says she was aware of this but has done nothing. [No further explanation is forthcoming.]
Much laughter follows.
[Yes, that went pretty well as expected.]
The Conservation Committee is Creeping
Now to agenda 13: the Conservation Committee reports in. Various highly endangered populations were looked at and then some small cetacean matters. It is noted that
Greg Donovan (Head of Science with the IWC Secretariat) replies on the behalf of the scientific establishment. This is semantics and we just need to tighten up our terminology he intones.
The Acting Chair tries to move on but
Lunch is blocked in by a meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee – will the NGOs be making there interventions in here?
Oh no – for it is closed to them. Perhaps they could just go home and stop botherng us.
The latest twist at the IWC showed that the Chair’s Proposal for compromise was not killed yesterday when green papers arrived in delegates pigeon holes in the final few minutes of the meeting yesterday. Green papers are schedule amendments – proposals for quotas.
This relates to opening up a new hunt for humpback whales in the North Atlantic – something that Greenland, via Denmark which represents it here, has been proposing for several years to add to the quotas of whales and takes of small cetaceans that it already practices.
One green paper is a joint proposal between the US and Denmark, which essentially takes that part of the Chair’s proposal that concerned aboriginal quotas and makes it a separate new proposal. This includes the humpback quota request from Greenland as if it has been already agreed.
The other green paper is an overlapping proposal from Greenland (submitted by Denmark) for ten humpbacks in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
What is happening here is that the US – basically to stop Japan and its allies blocking its Inuit hunt of bowheads is seeking to put in place a ten year period of quotas for the aboriginal takes – however in order to win support from the whaling nations it has linked this to the Denmark request for humpbacks and used part of the text from the Chairmans’ proposal (‘The Deal’) as a way to take this forward. This was one reason (but perhaps not the only one) why the agenda item (3) on the future of the IWC was not closed yesterday.
Certain parameters were meant to apply to the Chairmans’ proposal and associated discussions and this latest development thwarts all of them:
So it is that again the North Atlantic humpbacks’ fate hangs in the balance. We heard a number of southern hemisphere countries yesterday speaking up for this species in their region, will the northern ones act in the same manner? We doubt it. This last minute spin which illustrates what the US wanted from the chairs’ proposal perhaps more than anything (security for their hunt) is in the face of the long standing opposition of the UK and others to the hunting by Greenland which is increasingly commercialised, challenging the definition of aboriginal whaling as well as the lives of whales.
Some organisations here and countries are choosing to turn their back on this commercialisation, saying that they do not work on ‘aboriginal issues’. WDCS’s take is that this not one.
So AFP reports that Kristjan Loftsson, Iceland's millionaire whaler, doesn't really see the difference between whales and fish, "whales are just another fish". He went onto say, "If they are so intelligent, why don't they stay outside of Iceland's territorial waters?"
"Whales are just another fish for me, an abundant marine resource, nothing else," he said.
This is the man that is dragging Iceland through the mire with the international community. Whilst he is rich and can wallow in his millions when Icelanders around him suffer, he seems determined to ruin the Icelandic tourism industry making Iceland more of pariah.
Loftsson is also lobbying hard to stop Iceland from joining the EU. Not because its bad for Iceland and Icelanders - indeed membership would be a huge boost in support for the economy, but because its likely to be bad for him and his millions as the EU has a ban on whaling.
Never has one man stood to gain so much by denying so many others.
PS. Loftsson waffles on about killing whales with exploding grenades - well have a look at this picture for the truth. Full AFP story.
If you want to read more of the rant from this millionaire, see AFP
Lunch passes in a blur and suddenly delegates are back in the room; are they missing their closed sessions, all those romantic little liaisons with other like-minded (or not like-minded) commissioners? Anyway, they are now fully exposed to public scrutiny again and the biggest question of the day is, of course, who will win the football (and for our American reader the ‘soccer’ match). Another question is why is so much media now reporting that The Deal is dead when the agenda item is still open? Why are some NGOs celebrating the death of the deal, when it may just be sleeping. AGENDA 3 THE FUTURE OF THE IWC HAS VERY CLEARLY NOT BEEN CLOSED.
Into the Stocks with Debbie
We move on to that part of the agenda where whale stocks are considered and Dr Debbie of the Scientific Committee takes us through the various populations one at a time and at a healthy pace. [There is a promise that some NGOs might be allowed to speak at the end of the day and much negotiation is going on between the numerous groups present about who should have this privilege.] Anyway, first we encounter the southern ocean minke whales. The two most recent surveys do not agree and the substantial decline between the two surveys is of concern says the UK. Japan is less concerned. His scientists are fairly sure that the minkes are hiding under the ice [can they breath under there?] and he makes reference to some parts of the scientific committee report that probably are not available yet but which are obviously helpful. He looks forward to solving the issue of the disagreeing population estimates in the near future and to RMPing the minkes quite soon. The report on southern hemisphere humpbacks brings some comments from a number of countries that seek to protect them, notably New Zealand and Australia. The recovery of ‘their’ humpbacks is generally slow and numbers remain low.
Then the critically endangered Western North Pacific gray whales leap onto the stage and we learn there is much concern about them being accidentally caught in nets and also harmed by oil and gas development. The scientific committee has passed some recommendations and the commission is now being asked to agree them. Japan say they have improved their domestic laws and an educational programme for set-net fishermen is in place; fortunately since 2007, there has been no incidental take. Japan will work hard to help this depleted species. The USA views this as one of the most endangered whales. They welcome the development of an action plan for this species. Their lead scientist calls for surveys before seismic survey by the oil and gas industry commence and calls for oil and gas operations to use best practise. Russia now speaks and they too realise this population needs to be protected. They are doing some survey work with Japan but he is worried about some terms in the paper. These scientists are independent but independent of whom? He continues on this theme for a while and asks for the clear use of terms. Sometimes, he says, we hear that such groups of scientists are ‘dependent of’ some companies. He refers to the conservation plan and a sentence noting a contract between IUCN and the petrol company. He says we need to be careful with formulations.
[England has scored a goal against Slovenia and there is much excitement in the UK delegation. But then Rooney has a goal disallowed. ]
Mexico is supportive of conservation work. Monaco is next to the microphone and is represented by their scientists Justin Cooke (who also happens to represent the world conservation union – IUCN - to the IWC). He carefully explained that following the probable extinction of the baiji [the Chinese river dolphin] this species is likely to be the next cetacean to be lost. The IUCN plan for their conservation has been endorsed by the IWC scientific committee and these measures appear to have born fruit as there has been no entrapment in nets in Japan in the last two years. With regards to the seismic surveys, he agrees that the survey should be postponed. Justin is beamed up onto the big screens to either side of the podium holding Acting Chairman Liverpool and IWC Executive Secretary, Nicky Grandy.
What is slightly odd is that audio and image are out of sync and his lips move slightly after the words. Korea notes it utilised this species several decades ago. It is now extinct in Korean waters and now protected. The UK is worried about the status of the species and encourages more action. The seismic survey should be considered for postponement; they strongly support the conservation management plans and agree with the US that this one may be exemplary; Austria is always, she says concerned about stocks. It goes without saying that the IUCN recommendations should be supported! Oman tries to take a reservation on what is said about humpbacks in his region. [There is an isolated and increasingly beleaguered population of humpbacks in the Arabian Gulf.] He suggests that more research is needed. The Chair of the Scientific Committee agrees and notes this is what her committee is recommending.
Acting Chair Liverpool rules that the commission takes note of the scientific committee report and agrees its recommendations. Chair Debbie ploughs in with her summarise summary of the scientific committee report. Southern rights whales are considered and permits are recommended to deal with oil and gas development off South Africa. The USA then highlights the recent high mortality of southern right whales off Peninsula Valdes. More research is needed he says. Argentina (in this case the highly distinguished alternate commissioner) supports the recommendations made for this population by a workshop in March 2010. He thanks the US for supporting this workshop and Dr Robert Brownell for co-ordinating it. Brazil also thanks the United States and Bob Brownell. They agree with the scientific committee. The Scientific Committee report is noted and endorsed.
North Atlantic Right whales and other stocks are all swiftly dispatched and all relevant recommendations agreed.
A tea break erupts.
And – horror of all horrors, the delicious Morocan pastries swiftly run out. British scientists range around the room foraging but to no avail. The whale shark on the wall is starting to look tasty.
After tea we are treated to the return of an old favourite. Japan presents a power point entitled ‘Escalating Violence against Japanese Research Vessels by the Sea Shepherd’. We have reported this many times previously – so will not bother here. Suffice it to say, many are outraged. We move on to whale killing methods and some countries report on their hunts. New Zealand says its paper speaks for itself. Norway lists a few of its actions. Greenland also provides some data. The totals truck and loss was 7% for their west Greenland minke whale (i.e. animals that were struck and not recovered – poor things). There are no comments whatsoever. And without even a pause for some tumble weed to pass through because we are now very far behind with our agenda, we speed on to agenda irtem 5.2 but there is some hesitation on the stage… no it is OK, just some pesky countries interrupting things with questions. Austria notes that we all seem to accept indigenous whaling but that it could still be improved and made more humane and countries should help this process by providing more data.
The UK is given the floor and he calls for an end to the use of the [very cruel] cold harpoon and for welfare data to be provided. A Norwegian expert them takes us through the report of the IWC’s disentanglement workshop – which considered how to get whales out of nets. It includes a long section on Euthanasia and is available elsewhere [many good bookshops?] UK and others congratulate the people who took part in the workshop and produced the report. The US supports the conclusions of the workshop Argentina very eloquently expresses its appreciation too and suggests that similar workshops should be held elsewhere too. Others make similar compliments and the commission endorses the recommendations from the workshop. The UK has submitted a paper about hosting a workshop – to clarify this would not be an official IWC workshop (oh no) but we are inviting people to participate. The paper explains the rationale for this. And they may be able to find funds for would-be attendees. Belgium’s distinguished scientist speaks up in favour of this and recommends invited experts from outside the IWC should be invited. Argentina eloquently supports. Australia associates with the previous speakers; at IWC 63 we would like the working group on whale killing methods to meet.
Norway, however, decides to spike the fun. He says that is has no objections, but he has concern with just limiting this to whaling. He says whaling is the most regulated and best documented compared to other hunts. Only 2000 whales are taken each year whereas thousands of terrestrial mammals are taken. But no one is interested and others speak to support the distinguished alternate commissioner for the UK who relaxes back into his seat and receives the important news that the UK has beaten Slovenia in the football world cup.
Later, very sportingly the Commissioner for Slovenia comes over to shake hands with the UK Commissioner. In closing for the day acting Chairman Liverpool announces that because it is late and there is a nice reception out by the hotel pool next door with fanta and snacks and Peter Garrett, the NGO presentations are cancelled until a time when there is nothing better to do – or something like that – we cannot quite hear. So now it is off to pool side for that orange fanta.
Peter Garrett and Sir Geoffrey Palmer
More Evil Cats
Meanwhile elsewhere in Agadir on a traffic island surrounded by speeding red petit taxis there are further discussions about deal making between the predators of the town.
A small, but highly-focused group of kittens, have now joined the avian delegations’ debates on sustainability (also known as the how-many-chicks-can-we-eat debate).
Anyway the kitten team – their mewing threatening to rival that of the gulls - is now demanding their own ‘small and sustainable quota of gull chicks’! [You will recall the earlier negotiations with the kestrels went badly and someone got somewhat eaten.]
As this would be a ‘shared-quota’ with those same kestrels, the birds of prey are objecting strenuously, and emphasising that the kittens themselves would substitute perfectly well for chicks, should that prove necessary and this would be both sustainable and perfectly scientific. But the kittens are unable to stop pressing their case, their diplomatic skills are too limited.
They are too young; too inexperienced; too cute; and just too tasty; and one by one they are eaten by the falcons.
But tomorrow is another day and AGENDA 3 STAYS OPEN … let's see what else is going onto the menu.
You will see in our previous blog that Denmark states that 'the presidency said she spoke on the behalf of the 25 member countries but really this is Denmark speaks for the Faroe and Greenland, so the claim that Denmark present is part of the EU family should be taken with a big pinch of salt.'
Now Denmark is meant to be bound by the EU Common position and this is a breach of that. What is the Commission going to do now?
And what about the rest of Denmark. We know from the number of protest postcards we have received on the issue of whaling from Denmark that this is not something they take lightly.
So how come Denmark does not speak for the Danes, and only the whalers?