The world whales have been spared the threat of the clocks being turned back fifty years and the IWC sanctioned commercial whaling, but it seems that the unnecessary slaughter of ten humpback whales and transparency may have been the price.
Dogged by continued accusations of corruption and vote buying and feeling unable to discuss the Chairman and vice-chairs proposal on the ‘Future of the IWC’ in the scrutiny of public view, the Commission took its horse trading behind closed doors.
As the US IWC Commissioner said yesterday that on speaking with other countries about the US proposal for its ASW hunters, most delegations expected some trade off for granting a quota. If this is what the US is willing to state dogged the issue of quotas for a recognized ASW hunt imagine what the double-dealing was like behind closed doors.
However, thankfully his lack of transparency did not prevent nations from seeing through the failing in the Proposal.
The prospect that the IWC could control the current renegade whaling was surely tempting to many, but the reality was that this Proposal was never going to do that. The devil, as they say, was always in the detail.
It effectively abandoned the precautionary principle for political science and indeed, this fundamentally flawed approach to the science underlined the flawed political approach to everything else, including international law, relying on ‘gentleman’s agreements’ for nearly all its substance. And all this without any guarantees on Scientific whaling or whaling under objection.
The whalers demonstrated that they had no intention, and showed no indication, that they would surrender these Treaty rights. Yes Japan dangled the prospect that it may scale down its Antarctic hunt, but it was never willing to surrender the principle of Article VIII because it can always rely on it to escalate quotas it in the future. Iceland was clear that it would never give up trade in whale products for this is the only way its whaling could hope to be profitable .
Japan’s actions on blue fin tuna at the recent CITES meeting shows how it can make that Convention dance to its tune. The prospect of a CITES down-listing of whale species following IWC commercial whaling quotas would have brought overwhelming pressure on any future IWC that thought it could regulate trade on a nod and a prayer.
The reality was also that the proponents of this deal were also already talking to South Korea to adapt the proposal to allow for their whaling to be recognized in the deal. So what was meant to tie in three countries was, within minutes, already being expanded to allow for more.
We did see progress made on the protection of small cetaceans and WDCS welcomed the initiative of Belgium to address the issue of their protection of this under represented group within the IWC.
The failure of the IWC to see through the application of Denmark for ten humpback whales, brought on behalf of Greenland, was indicative of the underlying problems that the IWC refuses to face up to in addressing aboriginal subsistence whaling.
Whilst WDCS welcomes the saving of live of minke and fin whales, the unnecessary deaths of these ten humpbacks will shame the IWC for years to come, especially if they end up on the dinner plates of tourists in expensive hotels.
Overall the IWC is at a turning point. WDCS believes that what may have happened here is that countries that came to the table to negotiate away the moratorium may have realised that this is not an point of principle that is worth sacrificing because those who would gain never intended to honour the approaches being made, - and for those who opposed any form of commercial whaling there is a realization that there is a need to challenge the fundamental principles of the IWC and find a way to end commercial whaling once and for all.
WDCS remains committed to working with all countries and delegations that will work to end commercial whaling and teh abuses of ASW once and for all.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)