The meeting opened and shortly after this the meeting closed.
There was just enough time for some speeches of welcome and a coffee break. There will now be two days of private meetings about The Deal.
The meeting opened and shortly after this the meeting closed.
Along the sea front people are doing the same kinds of things that happen on sea fronts all over the world and the red bricks of the promenade are starting to heat up in the early morning sun. There are some joggers and just a few swimmers. Other people are moving their towels into place on sun-loungers to reserve them. Jet skis are being hauled into place and on a quiet part of the red bricks, a small troop of local youths, including one girl, who is modestly dresses in an all-over track suit with her hair covered, are practicing kick-boxing, kicking a pair of padded bats held high in the air by their trainer.
Two patrol men riding two-wheeled Segways weave through the throngs of tourists and local people strolling on the promenade. Sunday is a holiday for all and the hard sand adjacent to the sea is filled from one end of the bay to the other with local boys playing football. (The IWC is not of course the only international competition happening at this point and here football is a major interest.)
Some newly planned palm trees provide a little shade as delegates migrate along the promenade from their seaside hotels to the Conference Centre of the Golden Dunes.
Outside the conference centre today there two types of police in attendance, some standing behind the small trees that line the pavements. (They are not seeking camouflage, just enjoying the little shade that the trees offer.) The men in the smart khaki-coloured uniforms carry a two handled baton on their belts but the equally smart policemen in blue uniforms also have revolvers at their hips. Across the car park outside the conference entrance, tents are being moved into place – perhaps to take the overspill at coffee time – and inside a closed commissioners meeting is occurring in a hot room in the basement that we shall call the dungeon.
This cramped meeting of the commissioners (potentially representing 88 countries) only (give or take an aide or two) is expected to be looking at a revised version of the Chair’s proposal (The Deal). The last few days in earlier closed sessions were mainly devoted to discussions about this and Saturday may have been taken up with trying to draft something new – something more sweetly sugared to suit the tastes of a majority who might then vote it into place.
So what can we expect to see over the coming next few days?
Well either there will or will not be a new proposal to discuss, if there is (or perhaps even if there is not, we can expect countries to state their positions and at this meeting countries that have long been allies in their opposition to whaling may fall out. In particular the support from the
The less surprising support from the whaling nations (or at least
The skies here are full of birds. Squadrons of swifts in formation dissect the air shrilly screaming and the fragrant fish-processing docks at the northern end of the wide sandy bay help to ensure that there are many gulls, but there are also a range of species that Europeans can easily recognise, including house sparrows and collared doves (which are nesting in the palm trees along the red brick promenade). Then there are some more exciting avian sightings even in the heart of the tourist sector including a lot of kestrels and, rather surprisingly, an encounter in the middle of a hotel garden with a young booted eagle.
Fledgling kestrels just outside the conference centre.
Some of the gulls can be seen at night emulating bats and feeding on the fat and juicy insects that swarm around the powerful spotlights that line the shore. Their meals no doubt include a few of the large and winged cockroaches, which are poised to take over the world, when it finally become clear that human dominion has failed.
The gulls and the small kestrels seem to spend a lot of time sparring. The kestrels are perhaps a little smaller and but are more formidably armed with hooked beaks and talons. Both species seem to rearing their fledgling at this time and I suspect that the kestrels may have a less than holy interest in the young gulls. Perhaps as this is
The small kestrels state the following: ‘We should stop our constant arguing. This is making the bird community dysfunctional; we are at an impasse!’
The gulls listen with interest, their small brains hoping to find a way forward that might protect their precious and demanding chicks from the rapacious kestrels.
The kestrels continue: ‘What we suggest is that you allow us to take some of your chicks; not enough to harm your population obviously, just enough to satiate our appetites and allow our population to thrive.’
The gulls look less impressed, but the kestrels press their point.
‘If you agree to this we can have peace; you can carry on making that bloody awful noise that you make at five am in the morning and we can continue to… talk about other ways to improve things for you. We would also stop taking some of the other smaller birds that we now prey on. Perhaps we would even conserve them.’
One of the gulls, who perhaps has been out too long in the hot African sun, moves a little close to the chief negotiator of the birds of prey. ‘Tell me more’, he says ‘we have argued too long. I, for one, respect your right to eat us. Let us reach out across the cultural divide, let us be friends’.
Some of the other gulls now gathered in a crowd for what might appear to be some kind of a conference are mewing loudly.
‘Don’t be such a nit!’ one calls but he is hushed by others from his northern colony.
The compromise minded gull moves closer to the falcons ‘How many of us do you wish to eat’ he says. ‘If it is less than you do now, that might give comfort to my brothers and aid this ‘peace process’!’
The kestrels say that it will be ‘sustainable’ (that is seen as very important and many gulls are now nodding) and according to the calculations – because they will have to expend less energy hunting and quarrelling - they will need less gull babies than now.
The calculation is complex apparently and chief gull negotiator now moves forward to hear the details (something about a choice of tuning levels for the kill quota algorithm) and in doing so comes within striking range of the other side and, because they just cannot help themselves, true to their nature, they lunge, they grab, they rend and they eat him all up.
Assalam o alaikum Gentle Reader. Greetings from IWC 62 in Agadir, Morroco.
Whilst we try to make sure that our diaries from IWC meetings include light-hearted elements, the nature of the forthcoming meeting is going to make this difficult. The Chairman’s proposal for peace or compromise (or however you wish to dress it up – we shall call it THE DEAL here) is a proposal for the re-endorsement of commercial whaling – you will find discussion about the fuller implications of this elsewhere on the WDCS websites - and this is deadly serious. Nonetheless we shall seek to inform and entertain.
Our location is Agadir. This is seaside resort in
The ‘Golden Dunes Conference Centre’ is where the IWC has already been holding its cycle of annual meetings for the last 3 weeks. The meetings so far have been closed and have consisted of two weeks of scientific committee meetings and then some technical workshops, including further discussions on The Deal.
Whilst WDCS has been in attendance, we are not able to report from these closed meetings until the Commission’s plenary – the Sixty Second Annual meeting - which opens on Monday 21st. Meanwhile, let us tell you a little more about the locality. Whilst the ‘Golden Dunes’ may now have disappeared below the touristic developments; this is a friendly place and there are neighbouring towns which can be easily reached (for example the lovely Essauira and silver-edged Tifnit) where Moroccan architecture and other aspects of its culture shine through. But back to Agadir, the new red brick promenade (still under construction at its northern end – providing some interesting trip hazards for the unwary) is the focus in the cooler evenings of an amazing cavalcade of cultures. If you want to meet the locals and experience the carnival of nationalities here, take a stroll on a cool Sunday evening. Morocco is popular with the French, the British and the Russians; and flocks of them come and nest in the numerous hotels along the shore; they browse in the numerous souvenir and craft emporia (small camels made of camel skin being one purchase option) and feed in the many cafes and small restaurants. Many now come and stare at the signs outside the conference centre announcing the IWC is here – indeed it seems to have become something of a tourist attraction.
One strong element of local culture which is certainly alive here is the fine and ancient art of bartering – and perhaps this is relevant to the IWC meeting to come – here if you want a small model camel, a taxi-ride or, in fact, to purchase pretty much anything, you expect to have to haggle. And if you start this process, you should not expect to walk away without concluding a purchase; that would be seen as rude. IWC member nations take note!
And of course we shall be haggling in the IWC. One side is saying ‘we will accept your interest in conservation of whales, in whale watching and even in issues relating to the smaller cetaceans (the small whales, dolphins and porpoises which are disputed as relevant to the IWC’s work)… if you accept our right to kill some whales for profit’.
In reply, some are saying something like, ‘that is kind of you, how many whales would you like; we would like to see less whales killed than now and it must of course be sustainable’.
Others, of course, express a view that the whales should be left alone!
And so it is that under the strong Moroccan sun in a meeting hosted (we anticipate) in part in a tent, the whale’s future will be bartered.