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.