My first reaction before we discuss some of the comments included in the press release is to ask on whose authority is this release based. Is this the IWC speaking? Is this the members of the IWC speaking? I really don’t believe so for the latter?. For one thing, the authors refer to Iceland’s whaling under ‘reservation’, a made-up category of whaling that a large number of member states don’t recognize and has no basis in the ICRW The press release refers to the Chair’s and Vice-Chairs proposal as a ‘peace plan’. I am sorry but its not a peace plan, it’s a retrograde step back to the block quotas of 30 years ago. What has been presented before as a negotiating process is now obviously being touted as formal proposals from the Chair and Vice-Chair and for one believe the almost emotional blackmail in this press release should be formally rejected by governments and ngos alike. But what does it actually offer?
The IWC Chair and Vice-Chair have just issued a press release saying ‘If you really care about whale conservation - give our proposal a fair reading’ (7 May 2010) http://iwcoffice.org/index.htm
My first reaction before we discuss some of the comments included in the press release is to ask on whose authority is this release based. Is this the IWC speaking? Is this the members of the IWC speaking? I really don’t believe so for the latter?. For one thing, the authors refer to Iceland’s whaling under ‘reservation’, a made-up category of whaling that a large number of member states don’t recognize and has no basis in the ICRWMy tax goes towards paying for my home government to attend the IWC and I don't like the thought that my hard earned cash is paying for the IWC Chairman and Vice-Chair to push their agenda out to the press.
The press release refers to the Chair’s and Vice-Chairs proposal as a ‘peace plan’. I am sorry but its not a peace plan, it’s a retrograde step back to the block quotas of 30 years ago.
What has been presented before as a negotiating process is now obviously being touted as formal proposals from the Chair and Vice-Chair and for one believe the almost emotional blackmail in this press release should be formally rejected by governments and ngos alike.They claim that it brings ‘all whaling operations under full IWC control and to strengthen further and focus the work of the IWC on conservation issues’
But what does it actually offer?
Well for starters it absolutely fails to do what they initially promise! It actually creates a platform for commercial whaling to re-establish markets and legitimize illegal activities.
The authors suggest that,‘Given the wide range of views of our members, it had to be a compromise proposal – and that inevitably means that no-one gets everything they want – given the criticism we have received from all sides, we are probably not far off the correct balance!’
I am sorry but bad ideas have received criticisms from ‘all sides’ in the past, that does not automatically equate to them being ‘good’ .
The concept that this is a ‘compromise’ is also not true. There is a moratorium on whaling and then there are the whalers who have ignored it. So the solution? Give them whaling. Not quite sure where the compromise is in that?
The press release goes onto say, ‘The proper comparison is not with whether it fully meets the ideals of one side or the other – but how it compares with the status quo’.
That’s like saying, ‘well we should not compare the spate of burglaries in our area with the fact that there is a ban on burglaries, but the fact that the burglars are continuing to burgle our homes means we have to tolerate a level of theft that satisfies no one, but legitimizes existing burglaries’.
And I am sorry, but where does the press release get off in using terms that do not apply. There is commercial whaling, whaling under objection, Article VIII whaling and ASW whaling. Yet the press release is already using phrases such as ‘non-indigenous whaling’. This is not a classification of whaling that exists and is disingenuous to start using it as if it does exist.
This is a new class of whaling that seeks to circumvent the moratorium and allow commercial whaling to exist.
The press release admits finally that the deal, or package that has been dreamed up in backrooms out of sight of civil society, (the same civil society that actually was the moving force for the moratorium in the first place because the governments of the world were unable to take action to protect whales) cannot control so-called scientific whaling or whaling under objection. It admits that these blackmail tactics of the whalers have forced this situation
The release states that, ‘Under our proposal (in which the moratorium remains), although whaling, including in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, will continue, there are marked differences.’
NO, the moratorium does not remain. It falls. This is an absolute misrepresentation and no one should fall for this.
YES, whaling does continue in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, but the only real difference is that the Sanctuary decision is effectively overturned for the whalers and fin whaling is made legal as opposed to its current illegal status.
The release also again repeats the impossible stating that, ‘In addition, no other IWC member nations will be allowed to establish whaling operations.’
HOW? The proposal has no ‘sunset clause’ that brings all quotas to zero is anyone breaks the ‘deal’. And its illegal and in fact patronizing to restrict whaling to only three rich whaling countries.
The ‘deal gives political quotas out to the whalers, whilst bypassing the current debate on ASW quota requests. In fact it puts into place quotas that no one has agreed for example the highly divisive Greenland demand for ten humpback whales.
The authors of the press release bandy the RMP and quotas around as if all IWC implementation trials have been completed, whilst dismissing existing classifications as of no consequence. WHO are the authors to say what the RMP will deliver? It feels like the EU Common Fisheries Policy applied to whales- and look what that has done to fish populations.
The authors suggest that the press have concentrated on lots of other conservation issues. Well the truth is that the IWC has been working on these for a long time, whale watching, environmental threats etc. However the whalers have always dismissed them. Nothing in this proposal suggest the whalers will have to support these in the future, and why should they? They have only one interest and that is that they get profitable whaling back.
Do the authors of a scheme that will cost member countries an additional £12 million a year in fees to pay for the whaling will have funds for protecting the North Atlantic Right Whale? Is Iceland going to give all its profits from whaling to conservation efforts for the Amazon River Dolphin? Dream on.
What I do welcome in the press release is the final admission that issues such as trade, ‘scientific whaling, whaling under objections will not be dealt with under the proposal
The authors finally admit that, ‘Such differences are not easily resolved. That is why our proposal exists – to provide a framework to allow us all to address these differences in a calm manner, and sooner rather than later.’
This suggests that the proponents believe that the deal has to be instigated and then these issues will be discussed. At last they admit that the deal focuses on giving the whalers what they want and then sets about discussing these crucial issues. But why should the whalers even discuss these issues with any sense of commitment if they get commercial whaling back first?
In summary the authors of the press release ask is this a ‘whalers’ charter or a balanced and realistic proposal?’
It’s a ‘whalers charter’, that seeks to save whaling and not whales