It is cold. The views are nice … in the few hours of daylight that there are!!
We are apparently currently attending the ‘Scienitific Council’ meeting of the Convention on Migratory species and all the official badges – probably with correct spelling - (and allegedly many of the official papers) have become embroiled in some kind of customs dispute and been sent back to Oslo. Hopefully, they will be located soon.
All delegates have been provided with a conference shoulder-bag (faux animal skin) of goodies. Herein we find a jaunty bright yellow rain-hat, waterproof poncho and a reflective arm band. The host country obviously does not mean us to get wet or run over during our stay here. There is also a Jamie Oliver note pad and some memory sticks from CMS and EU loaded with documents. We shall definitely not go short of reading material.
The conference hotel, the Bergen Scandic, is currently bravely hosting two conferences simultaneously. The other concerns ‘Psycopathy’ in the local community. This may cause some confusion and we are pondering what will happen to delegates from either conference who accidently attend the wrong one and, in particular, how long it may take people to realise that they are in the wrong place.
Outside it is hovering around a non-balmy 2 degrees but it is occasionally sunny – at least we think it is, as daylight is something we’ve not seen a lot of since we arrived. Northern crows scream overhead and a few magpies also haunt the occasionally cobbled streets. Bergen is famously both cosmopolitan and picturesque but that is probably enough about the location (for the moment).
So, what do we expect from this meeting, especially noting the backdrop of global economic gloom and doom? There are a host of issues in front of the meeting, including many that directly or indirectly affect marine mammals.
Unfortunately, the outlook for many migratory species is bleak; climate change is now affecting them directly and indirectly and this offers a new and urgent challenge. Will this meeting of the convention take adequate action to address this matter? Only time will tell …!
Also on the agenda is a significant draft global work plan for cetaceans, a considerable piece of work that will hopefully ensure enhanced (and concerted) action on all species of cetacean that are currently listed on Appendix I and II of the Convention (approximately 40 of the 86 species that are currently recognised). Other important draft resolutions up for consideration concern marine debris, fisheries bycatch, marine noise and other matters. Some of these issues are of great importance to cetacean conservation and welfare (and so of considerable interest to us) and we shall be doing our best to ensure that the meeting is successful and has only positive outcomes for all and any migratory species of whale and/or dolphin.
One growing issue here and in other international agreements is the role and behaviour of the countries from the European Union. Readers who follow our blogs from the International Whaling Commission will know that in recent years these nations, including the UK, have started to act exclusively in consort in that forum; seeking unanimous positions on all issues via a process that requires them to confer extensively with each other. This has generated concerns about access to national delegations (essentially they often claim that they cannot speak to us because they are too busy speaking to each other) and what exactly each nation is doing has become obscured in this process. In the IWC context this has caused huge problems. Will it do so here? We shall see.
We will not report from the Scientific Council but begin blogging in earnest next week when the main CoP (Conference of the Parties) opens. Stay tuned for more from the Norwegian fiords!