The NGOs Go On (and on and on and on and...)
So where were we? Ah yes. Day 3 and the we are in that special session where some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of varying denominations are allowed to speak. We have posted the first of these (a very fine speech indeed and presented very beautifully by Susan of AWI)
Five other NGOs speak:
1. A speaker from the Japanese Transport Workers Union explaines that they organize fishers and transport workers (including dock workers) and that they support a whaling policy that supports sustainable use of whales. He then starts to explore the ‘violent activities’ of some antiwhaling groups. He names Sea Shepherd and refers to reckless activities and asks us how we would you feel if our loved ones are at risk of ‘piracy attack’. [But more of this later]
2. Patti Forkens of the Humane Society International takes the stand. She first came to the IWC in 1973. She makes an impassioned plea for the whales and states that many NGOs want to see whaling brought back under IWC control. The existing negotiation process she adds has failed to produce an outcome. There is no foundation on which to build. IWC 61/10 [the way forward document] came from a private meeting of commissioners she notes. What has changed? Have the whaling countries agreed to meaningfully compromise? The previous [and infamous] Irish proposal and the RMS have shown the whaling nations to be unwilling to compromise. Recently one has even resumed commercial whaling. Whale meat trade has increased. All signs of bad faith!
3. A hunter from the community of Chukotka in Russia speaks next. He says that the hunters often feel some times like an inconvenience. And he is concerned about people trying to undermine hunts. Whilst our task of considering how to reform the IWC may seem immense we should consider the situation of his people in the harsh Arctic north. He concludes by thanking those that support the needs of indigenous communities world wide.
4. Finally, the third speaker representing the conservation and welfare communities, moves to the microphone. This is the redoubtable and remarkable Dr Sidney Holt. He has been around forever and helped in the founding (and early management) of a range of important NGOs (including 'modern' Greenpeace). A fisheries scientist by training but an environmentalist by inclination what will El Sid tell us in his five minutes?
He gives us a little history. Then he notes that all the [conservation-minded] NGO support the continuation of the moratorium but that it is time to move on and end Special Permit [Scientific] Whaling and whaling in statuaries. He adds that wondrous whales will never contribute substantially to the nutrition of humankind, nor do they threaten it (contrary to some suggestions).
He then goes on to speak of a phase-out of whaling and how this might be achieved.
So that was the end of the anti-whaling type speakers and but one more speaker is left.
He comes from New Zealand is from the Maori fisheries trust representing the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. He greets the flowers and the streams. The Maori fisheries trust has recently won rights over fishing (and he acknowledges the role of Sir Geoffrey Palmer in this). Since 1995 they have been involved in whaling world wide. Our organization supports the coastal traditions of other peoples he notes. We don’t hunt whales but the whalers hunt us. We are the youngest nation in the world. We have been fishing for 1000 years. Our rights have commercial and non commercial elements that we do not distinguish between them. You must give something important to move forward. We have concerns over the IWC’s definition of whaling especially aboriginal subsistence. It is our view that aboriginal subsistence, where peoples have to beg the Commission for food is a demeaning thing. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Makah whalers we have hunted dugong. To quote paper 61/12 submitted by Demark, aboriginal subsistence relates to neocolonial control. To limit us to subsistence alone is demeaning. We need a rights based formula to be included in the discussions on the future of the IWC.
The Chair asks for copies of the statements which will be summarized in his report from the meeting. He adds that we need to move forward on how civil society should be included in our work.
What do we move to next - ah the report of the Scientific Committee that relates to its Environmental work. Most exciting.
The NGOs Go On (and on and on and on and...)