The opening of IWC 63.
Monday 11th of July.
The hall of the annual whaling Commission looks much the same as ever as delegates gather. Some are moving into place to sit behind their national flags and name plates. Others are milling and chatting in the aisles. The NGOs are vying for seats at the back at the room but (and this is very exciting) this year they have tables, water and electricity sockets (thank you Secretariat). The seats at the further back being the most popular as no one can read your emails and skypes over your shoulder (well not directly from the screens anyway).
Note books are poised, lap tops precariously perched on laps (and tables), and outside the raucous calls of gulls high overhead punctuate the muted rumble of the traffic on the streets of St Helier.
Press interest has been building over the last few days and scattered around the hall are a handful of reporters (recognisable by red badges), many of whom know this forum well and what to expect. Indeed, there are many people here who have been attending the IWC meetings for years, in some cases even decades. But there are new faces too. Several of the European Commissioners are new, including the UK’s Commissioner, Richard Pullen, today flanked by his minister, Richard Benyon MP. Perhaps this year the latter will get to speak. Despite coming all the way to Agadir last year, because the Commission rapidly went into secret session for three days, he was not able to say anything, although of course a ministerial-level presence from the UK was noted.
We are also pleased to welcome a new canine delegate. Following hard on the paws of her distinguished colleague Giles, the guide dog who used to accompany the UK’s previous Commissioner, the formidable Richard Cowan, comes Vicky. She will be assisting the UK’s legal expert. Hopefully Vicky will be less mischievous than the redoubtable Giles and especially when in buffet areas and receptions, where Giles’ loyalties were clearly sometimes torn between attending to his master and answering the call of his stomach.
Anyway, we are now under ‘starter’s-orders’ and further to the preceding months of preparation and closed meetings, we wait to see if anything will change this year.
And they are off… stay tuned.