How often do we want to meet?
So after a rather miserable lunch – we return to the Great Hall for the final session, which is administrative. Donna the Australian Commissioner now takes the microphone and takes us through the report of the Finance and Administration (F&A) report. It is now 16.10 and she goes at speed through a number of matters.
UK delegation in reflective mode
Then we return to a substantive manner. F&A left the issue of whether or not the IWC will continue to meet every year (or ever other year) hanging.
The USA says this is linked to their proposal for the Joint Aboriginal Quotas which has not been discussed yet, although their spokesman says he has a reasonable idea of how this will go and would prefer annual meetings for the next couple of years.
Various views are expressed. Australia says that there is important work to do following The Pause and they prefer annual meetings, but moving to biannual in the future.
St Lucia reminds us that the aboriginal quotas are up for review in 2012.
France likes biannual meetings, as does the rest of the EU.
Brazil says keep them annual for now but the work of the Scientific and Conservation Committee should continue.
Russia would prefer a biennial arrangement when aboriginal quotas are set for ten year period. (Did the Commissioner just grin?)
The Acting Chair asks the Chair of the Scientific Committee where the quota reviews stand. She says it would be difficult to do this in 2011.
Australia says let us meet for the next two years and then biennially thereafter.
France wants to make sure that the Scientific Committee meets every year
So, says the Acting Chair, shall we meet for the next two years and revisit this next year? It is agreed. (Nothing changes.)
We move on through F&A and amongst other things we come to the fees for NGOs. In the future, each NGO will pay £520 for its first delegate and then £260 for others. Interpreters are free.[Bargain – get me some of those.]
F&A finishes and we return at 16.54 pm to Agenda No 3. This is to allow a number of things says the Chairman vaguely, but one of these things is a statement from the US now found in document IWC/62/31
An Inuit whaling captain then greets us. He says it is difficult for people from moderate climates to imagine life in places like Barrow. He explains that they have been able to live for generations because of the Bowhead. He notes that Agadir has many things to offer that he does not have back home and adds that the relationship of his people to the bowhead whale is at the core of his culture. He says that they have met every standard and requirement requested…. He is concerned at how his people are being treated here.
The Alternate US Commissioner comes to the floor. He is pleased that the Commission reached consensus on Denmark, but he is aware after further consultation that we may not reach consensus although all members here ‘profess’ support for indigenous whaling, and he withdraws his proposal.
So remaining in front of us is ‘a proposal from the chair on the way forward’.
The Vice Chair says that a period of reflection does not mean inaction.
He then presents a detailed proposal. It has two key elements:
Firstly that ‘member nations continue to work together to take initiatives on particular matters of importance but which have not received general support; and secondly an agreement to minimise plenary discussions on certain contentious matters for which it is clear no progress will be made. There are four points under each heading.
Some amendments are offered by Iceland and others.
The Acting Chair, at 17.29 pm, notes that this can stands as a proposal, a guide from the chair and will just issue a chair’s statement at the end of the meeting.
Spain thanks him for putting his ideas on paper but that it is bit too long for a decision, we would need to find better language and shorten the text.
Iceland says he is free to make proposals.
Australia thanks the chair for his proposal and as she understands it correctly this is not something that we have to agree. This is not approved and the previous Chair’s proposal is also not agreed. This should be clear and in the record. The spirit of the proposal is to give us time for a pause.
Spain says we must be clear in the record.
Monaco says that we have had recent problems with you [the Vice Chairman] making a statement on your own behalf and this being confused with something issued by the IWC; care needs to be taken, he stresses.
Korea makes a short statement – the gist of this is that they phased out commercial whaling after the moratorium came into place. But they still want whale meat. They think the RMP is best way to manage whaling and look forward to it being completed for the North Pacific.
Australia recommends decoupling the Scientific Committee from the Commission from 2011.
Any views? Chile supports Australia and so does Norway.
USA asks about the budgetary implications.
Australia: there is some extra work involved in running meetings in two different places.
The Executive Secretary notes that many member nations see many benefits but we do not have venue next year and this may put us under strain.
Austria and Japan say that we should not take a last minute decision on this.
But ‘this is a good idea’ says Brazil.
Norway says he could solve this by not separating the meetings but moving both to September and looking at this then. He is supported by Iceland.
The USA supports in general and 'further to the last two commissioners we would not move the timing of the Scientific Committee.
Australia thanks everyone for their comments and suggests we discuss this early at the next meeting.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer is then thanked for his efforts and he announces his retirement from the Commission.
Cherry Alison lists infractions for us. There are quite a few.
South Korea explains in detail how those found guilty of illegal whaling will be punished in Korea. In 2009 the Korean government detected 16 illegal whales.
The Great Hall
Where shall we meet and will Simon wear Nicky’s shoes’?
We move to agenda 24; date and place of annual meetings. The Acting Chair says there are a number of governments interested in IWC 63 but none have confirmed this.
If by September 1st 2010, there is no confirmation, the Secretariat will have to host that meeting.
Nicky Grandy will be leaving us after ten years announces the Acting Chairman. New Zealand is enthusiastically waving his name plate.
Dr Grandy we salute you, says Sir Geoffrey. Nicky has give us distinguished service and given help to the whales and supported 88 members with highly divergent roles here. She has conducted her role with cheerfulness. Nicky we are all grateful to you and we know previous commissioners from New Zealand have had robust exchanges with you and he apologises for some of the language used then.
St Lucia speaks of the Alice in Wonderland world of the commission. When she first arrived we wondered if this small woman could deal with the reins of two teams of people. [She returns to talk of Mount Difficulty for a while but the scribe fails to follow.]
The US Alternate Commissioner thanks Nicky too.
The African group of countries give her a present.
Then Korea thanks her too. He proposes two new agenda items for this year – i. decision on sustainable use of Nicky Grandy or ii. Consensus decision on Nicky Grandy.
Some laughter follows.
Japan says he feels the same way. IWC has had a very difficult and challenging time. He too has a gift – it is a doll and he tells a story: a fairy came to fishermen; to stop her leaving they stole her clothes and to get her clothes back she had to dance. This is a traditional story. I feel like I would like to take away your gown to keep you in this organisation he adds.
A deputation from Japan now approach the stage and the doll is handed over by the Japanese Secretary of State.
Spain notes that the coordination on this issue is the easiest she has had. She wishes Nicky well from all the EU nations.
The longest serving commissioner, the Russian Commissioner, is now called on to speak for all the Commissioners.
First Mexico speaks for the Buenos Aires Group – he recognises Nicky as neutral and professional. How will Simon [the new Executive Secretary] wear her shoes? he asks And he thanks her for her good nature. ‘We shall miss you dearly’.
The Russian Commissioner then hands over a gift and speaks in English: 'do not forget IWC – we shall sing one song for you; are you ready to hear?', and he sings the old Elvis number: ‘love us tender, love us so, for our Nicky we love you,… love us tender too, love us too, for Nicky we love you, and we always will.”
Something is unwrapped on the distant stage.
Nicky thanks everyone for the gifts. This is turning out to be quite a roller coater ride she says. She is grateful for the improved atmosphere in the Commission. She hopes this may be her legacy. She makes a special comment about her excellent staff and singles out Greg Donovan for special mention. She does not know how he does what he does. I used to be so frightened at the call of ‘Point of Order Mr Chairman’; but I have been grateful for the opportunity of meeting such a diversity of people.
The Acting Chairman thanks all the Commissioners and he makes a special mention of the interpreters and also the technicians. He finally welcomes Simon Brockington [the Executive Secretary nominate] and thanks Morocco and Agadir
And so we leave the Great Hall for the last time. (One of us has been in this building for every day but two since May 30th, will he be able to function in the wider world? Could he function before. He cannot remember.)
WDCS would like to express its thanks in particular this year to Australia for being an inspired champion of the whales, including its team in the scientific committee. Buenos Aires Group thank you for standing so firm and, Argentina, congratulations on many fine interventions.
We are also very grateful to our colleagues representing the UK, Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria. Thanks also to our good friends in the Scientific Committee and our sister NGOs, especially (but not only) HSUS, AWI, WSPA, EIA and Prowildlife.
We salute Monaco for his independent thoughts (and reserve the right not to always agree with you).
We (again) wish the executive secretary, Nicky Grandy, a happy retirement from the IWC and thank the IWC secretariat for their efficient assistance through this difficult and complicated meeting.
Welcome Simon and good luck in your new role.
Our thanks also to the kind people of Agadir; we are not sure about the small camels made of camel, or the street cats that sing so copiously in the night, but we like the red brick promenade and the wonderful tolerant mixtures of cultures found there, especially of a Sunday evening.
Finally, we hope all the fledging kestrels that had their nest in the palm tree at Maxwell’s restaurant have a long and happy life in this bustling urban environment. We make our way back up the red brick road for one last time – back towards the fragrant fish docks where we live.
Alexander of Belgium demonstrates the famous fan.
How often do we want to meet?