At 19.53 or thereabouts there is a general return into the Great Windowless Hall.
The Chairman mounts the stage and says 'Hello everybody we will reconvene at eight o'clock'.
A distinguished NGO delegate rushes to the front to photograph this momentous moment.
A few minutes later members of the efficient and effective IWC Secretariat are moving papers around the room.
The piece of paper that we have been awaiting for many hours is entitled 'Paragraphs for Inclusion in Chair's Report'. It notes some of what happened earlier and concludes
'While recognizing the diversity of views in the Commission on the issue, the Commission recognises the importance of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary to many member Governments. The Commission resolved:
a. to continue to discuss the establishment of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary as the first substantive agenda item at IWC 64;
b. that if consensus cannot be reached on the item, a decision will be taken in accordance with the Commission's Rules of Procedure.
At 20.2O The Chairman, now joined by the Executive Secretary on the stage, announces that the latter is taking orders for gin and tonic. 'Hands up for gin and tonics' he says amiably.
A sea of hands rise.
And just a reminder this is not a verbatim report. We welcome comments and your help in making it accurate. Thanks to those who spotted many mistakes already.
Simon Brockington, the Executive Secretary, is on the phone on the stage. Is he putting through the drinks order?
A paper airplane is flying between delegations. The Korean Commissioner complains that this is 'not in accord with the rules of procedure'. He is rewarded with laughter and some applause on the side of the Great Hall that can see what is happening and confused and worried glances from the saide removed from this airplane diplomacy.
A line of Secretariat staff have appeared at the exits. There is no escape.
20.32. Please take your seats... this matter was complex and sensitive, says the Chair and he thanks all for working so hard on it. He explains the agreement as described above.
We now have very little time for many items, he notes. As it is so late we will need to adopt reports very quickly, Next year's agenda will allow time for more conbsideration of matters not considered at this meeting (is he sure?)
Can we adopt the Conservation Committee and the sections of other reports dealing with conservation plans.
Australia - on the conservation committee report we would like to have a full discussion at next year's meeting.
Mexico: I agree. This is the longest report we have ever had.
The distinguished delegation of Mexico
The reports are adopted in totality (including all the many parts of the Scientific Committee report not presented or in any way described or probed). Except for one...
Chile: Sorry I would like to introduce a small issue in the Scientific Report. There is a matter of stock estimates here presented in a table that needs to be clarified. Why are these presented?
There is an ominous silence. Everyone wants to be somewhere else.
The Chair goes to Debbie (Scientific Committee Chair) for clarification. She says: The purpose of compiling this was to look at the estimates and determine which ones had been accepted.
A statement is read on small cetacean contributions. A long list of groups has contributed a combined £10,300. There is appreciative applause.
Italy is very glad to also make a voluntary contribution of £25,000... because Italy 'believes in these projects'. More applause.
France will do likewise. A further outbreak of clapping.
The Chair of the Commisson moves to conclude the agenda in record-breaking brevity. In the private commissioners' meeting we also decided a few matters he says. The Chair of the Commission will be decided by postal vote. Vice Chair of Conservation Committee will be Alexandre de Lichtervelde, the Belgium Commissioner, [Congratulations.]. We now need to decide on next year's meeting.
Panama takes the microphone. Their commissoner speaks of his small country with a vibrant and growing economy. Panama City has become a centre for international meetings. He lists other attributes including a law for sea mammals that prohibits hunting and he has already issued a list of countries that require visas. [That may be handy.] He continues to extol the virtues of his country and its capital and then a video is turned on with vibrant background music that shakes the hall (and we notice some Latin delegates starting to move to the beat). We see scenes of dancers, tree frogs, beaches, more dancers, shipping, beaches again, a whale or two (a rare sighting in this place) and some dancers.
So we shall be going to Panama City for IWC 64.
The Chairman moves to close. He heard he might be asked to chair only two weeks ago and since then he has had great help from the Secretariat. 'Simon and Greg you are wonderful', he adds.
Two members of the Secretariat are retiring: redoubtable Bernard and dear Fiona. There is a long and affectionate standing ovation for them and gifts are unveiled (explaining the strange veiled shape that has been standing beside the stage foir many hours) and handed over.
The Chairman declares the meeting closed.
Members of the Secretariat are soon swiftly dismantling the room. Flags are confiscated first and name plates quickly follow. Delegates whirl around saying good bye and thank you to each other (little knowing that they will meet each other the next day somewhere else on the island). Reporters are on their phones trying to explain what did (or did not) happen. Policmen and security guards start to relax and soon the Great dark Hall is almost empty.
We say almost because over in one dark corner of the Hall the WDCS communications team continues to work its magic long after everyone else has left. At 10pm, or thereabouts, they are finally gently encouarged to go and find some food... and sleep.
In the spotlight themselves: WDCS Team Media: Laura (on the left) and Danny
WDCS extends its thanks to the IWC Secretariat for their support and assistance and also to all NGO and national delegate friends for their help and support. The Blog Scribe thanks WSPA for updates and amusements (and allowing him to occassionally go to the toilet) and his editors as ever. Stay tuned for a retrospective on this very important meeting, more explanations and further expressions of gratitude, after we have had some sleep.
In the meatime, we note that BBC Radio Jersey ran a series of reports from the meeting through this last week. In the final installment they pitched Niki Entrup of WDCS against two pro-whaling pundits and this unterview can be accessed HERE for just the next few days. (Apologies to those of you too far away to take advantage of this).