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.