Further to numerous complaints about the brief nature of the report from the first day of the IWC this morning (well two complaints – one from someone who is actually here), here are some more words from the pool-side where we have been enjoying the aquarobics with some young Russian ladies and their more mature husbands.
The day starts bright and sunny. It is not as hot as it was a couple of weeks ago during the Scientific Committee when temperatures were in the forties and scientists started to keel over like so many dominoes in the heat.
Today the climate is less Sahara and more
Delegates enter via the coffee area and under the somewhat surprising picture of a whale shark. The whale shark (which is not of course a whale, or indeed a dolphin but … essentially a shark) last featured at the IWC meeting in St Kitts and
Senior diplomats and politicians are present today. Ministers, even ex-prime ministers, and their delegations are meeting and greeting as the last few minutes before the meeting begins. Camera flash guns are going off all around – everyone is photographing everyone else. Cameras, mobile phones, TV cameras – all kinds of recording equipment in being excitedly waved in the air.
Sir Geoffrey of New Zealand
Various consultations can be seem going on; for example the Australian envoy for whales finds the UK minister, Richard Benyon MP, who is here to show his solidarity with the whales and they are soon deep in discussion. Senior delegates elsewhere shake hands or bow, and exchange small witticisms and congratulations or commiserations over the latest football scores.
Finally everyone finds their seats and some drumming begins from the far end of the room. Is it a troop of Belgian fan dancers? Sadly no.
A troop of Moroccan musicians and dancers in splendid traditional dress march in from the back. They are rewarded with applause.
Then Anthony Liverpool, the Vice Chair of the Commission, acting for the Chairman, who is unwell and wisely absent, thanks the King and the host country for their hospitality.
He welcomes everyone and the deputy major of Agadir and the Secretary General of Moroccan fisheries welcome everyone and wish the meeting well.
The chairman then rules it is a coffee break. No one challenges this, and delegations vie for beverages in the small hall way area under the watchful eye of the whale shark. Delegates bearing deeply secret pieces of paper bustle around avoiding NGO delegates.
After the tea break, the Secretary of the Commission, Dr Nicky Grandy, reads out a list of countries without voting rights; there are many. Delegates carefully note them down (not much point lobbying them if they cannot vote – should there be a vote).
Acting Chairman Liverpool is pleased with how the discussions have gone; he does not want discussions to be interrupted – commissioners need to be able to express their views without interruption. Delegates should therefore keep points of order to a minimum because it can be very disruptive. No second interventions from any country will be allowed until all countries that wish to speak have spoken. NGOs may address the meeting later (albeit briefly and giving delegates the opportunity to enjoy the small rather public rest rooms in the dungeon area). This is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. One individual per organisation will speak (no choruses).
Turning to the important issue of how delegates will be able to watch the important football matches happening over the next few days during the world cup, it seems Mr Liverpool has a cunning plan. He is going to close the commission for a couple of days. Various groupings (such as the European Union) will only need to send one representative into a series of bilateral working groups with the whaling nations, concerning The Deal.
And so it is, Gentle Reader, that we are all sent out (people on the podium calling for those not chosen to take part in discussions to leave the room as quickly as possible) and we head swiftly to the pool, because the fate of the whales is now in the hands of a few people who probably don’t like football.
Examination of the whale shark.
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