Day 2. Just 33 minutes of open meeting.
The doors are firmly closed. The Commission this Tuesday morning in a cloudy
Outside, for the first time this meeting, there are some protestors. There are banners and chanting but they are kept far from the meeting hotel. Their voices will certainly not reach behind the closed doors.
So we cannot tell you about anything happening at the IWC at this point and instead we will tell you some more about a feature of the city instead.
One year ago the IWC was in
For this is the
One of the striking things about
For many foreign visitors this has been difficult to interpret what is going on with these animals. Most look hale and hearty, although a few look a little old and stiff and a few have squints but, for the most part, these are certainly not the unhappy mangy and diseased dogs seen running wild in some cities. Local friends report that many are fed and, to some extent, cared for but that they are also allowed to range around the streets. Many it seems are cared for as puppies but as their cuteness fades, so they increasingly have to find their own way in the world.
At least in this part of town there seems to be plenty of food on the streets and, in the evenings, many dogs can be seen foraging around the bin bags left outside homes and cafes. We have also spotted a few â€˜dog nestsâ€™ â€“ places where some like to curl up at night and sleep, although it is not always the same dog in the same place and sometimes dogs nest together.
Their seeming indifference to people by is only broken by their road crossing needs! Dogs will careful select passers by that they somehow inherently trust (it is interesting that they will not just do this with anyone but often seem to wait patiently for just the right person) and walk with them across the busy roads. Frankly, this is obviously a major survival skill here for the dogs because the roads are very busy, the cars move at high speeds and a dog on the streets without this skill will certainly not survive. The odd doggy squints and maybe some of the stiff legs may be testimony to how some learn this lesson the hard way.
There are rumours of occasional round-ups of the city dogs by the authorities but these are very unpopular with many local people, who see the city dogs as part of their way of life.
Eventually after a long coffee break we are allowed into the meeting for a full 33 minutes until the long lunch break.
Chairman Hogarth announces that we are now 81 (no it is not a birthday),
Uruguay now gives her opening comments, stressing new relevant regulations in her country including relating to whale watching,
The Chairman now takes us back-to-the-futureâ€¦ of the IWC â€“ a new document has been produced and â€˜agreed by consensusâ€™ in this morningâ€™s meeting behind those closed doors.
Despite this consensus,
We pause here to note as we always do that our reporting from the IWC is not verbatim and should not be taken as such â€“ we try to capture the gist of what is said and we are pleased to make any corrections if we have interpreted any matter incorrectly.
The meeting closes almost as soon as it has opened with the chair calling for a round of applause for a great reception hosted by
[Delegates were taken to the reception elsewhere in the city last night in a flotilla of coaches with police cars with flashing lights to the front and rear. Motorcycle police outriders surged ahead and stopped the traffic at every junction, so the coaches full of VIPs (and ourselves) could sail by. Rarely have coaches moved more swiftly and efficiently. Out of the window we see one gentleman on the pavement making elaborate bows as we pass, obviously in acknowledgement of our celebrity.]
So what is in this document about the Future of the IWC?
There are three parts â€“ reforming the working procedures of the IWC [perhaps they will give some consideration here to its seemingly increasing secrecy]; the terms of reference for a small working group that will go away and think some more about the Future of the IWC; and also terms of reference for an intersessional group on â€˜issues related to the Scientific Committeeâ€™.
Amongst other things the document calls for greater consensus within the Commission, it calls for Resolutions [one of the main ways that the Commission makes its views known and for example calls countries to action or account] to be submitted 60 days in advance; the small working group has a list 22 elements/issues to look at, including Climate Change, the Conservation Committee, Ethics, Whale watching, â€œCoastal Whaling (i.e. within EEZ)â€? and so forth. 24 countries are in this â€˜small working groupâ€™, including the
And what will the intercessional group on the Scientific Committee be thinking about? Possibly separating the Scientific Committee from the Commission meeting, so the former occurs long before the latter; also â€˜communication with the Commissionâ€™, confidentiality and many other matters besides. It will be a busy group!
And now to lunch. Outside we hear some dogs howling.
The afternoon starts with some quiet consultations at the front of the room â€“ first the alternate commissioner to
The governor of an Argentinean district is ushered in. He talks about the right whale â€“ how rare it has become, how all the things that we previously took from it we can find elsewhere. He speaks of its slow recovery (the translator insists on â€˜bow whaleâ€™ but an accompanying video shows the southern right whale). He eloquently describes the development of whale watching in Patagonian seas. The governor also comments on the emotional bond that can develop with whales.
There is warm applause but also some grumbling from some delegates.
The Chairman thanks the govenor for attending and notes that we shall come back to whale watching in due course.
Another minister now takes the stage â€“ we must move away from our 1950s function says Peter Garret from
Equador mentions mutual respect for sustainable development.
Aboriginal Whaling starts and suddenly stops.
The Chairman now tries to move the agenda on.
The Chair whispers to the Secretary. Then, convivially, he agrees to this unusual arrangement â€“ a short presentation but no discussion. The clock says 15.04 pm.
A similar presentation follows for humpback whales. The stock she says is almost fully recovered at some 9% per year â€“ the proposed take of ten humpback whales is â€˜sustainableâ€™.
With respect to minke whales off west
Delegates are now looking at document IWC/60/23 rev â€“ the schedule proposal (an earlier version had several curious mistakes).
There is a loud rumbling in one of the secret corridors that flank one side of the big meeting room. A few delegates grip their tables and consider popping underneath in case it is an earthquake.
Meanwhile the Greenlandic minister is talking about changes to her laws and showing pictures of the activity. She states that methods have been improved since the 1980s. She introduces a whaler in her delegation and says that we are welcome to ask questions [although obviously not today]. Some delegates are taking pictures of the slides showing the whaling activity.
She goes on to talk about distribution from the various hunts, including that some meat is sold to the one and only processing plant, owned 49% by the home rule government
Greenlandic whale meat â€˜needsâ€™ used to be 670 tonnes, their new minimum is now 730 tonnes; and apparently their needs have never been met and the number of Greenlanders has increased. Even worse, takes of other marine species have declined because of new legislation.
She concluded with reference to the Scientific Committeeâ€™s helpful advice.
She requests that the take of 2 bowhead whales should be confirmed and a new take of ten humbacks added.
She refers to a definition of aboriginal subsistence whaling in the 56th meeting Chairmanâ€™s summary. There are similarities and differences in whaling around the world, including in... and she starts to list whaling communities and includes
There is applause. Hesitant and first and then it buildsâ€¦ the chair allows it.
The Chairman reminds the meeting that this is a presentation from
Then, rather alarmingly we suddenly lurch from hunting whales to whale watching.
Arne Bjorge notes that the Scientific Committee has found that whale watching can have long term affects on some whale populations. The Scientific Committee plans longer tern studies. He details some other aspects of the report from this yearâ€™s meeting.
The Australian minister leaps in and stresses the importance of live whales â€“ 100 million people have watched whales. In Latin American 900,000 people now annually do this. It can raise public awareness and aid marine conservation.
He also notes that whale watching does need to be managed and that the IWC is the relevant body to do this. [A whaling nation delegate yawns luxuriously]
The Mexican commissioner congratulates the Scientific Committee on its work and agrees with
Whales are favoured as live animals and people are prepared to spend money to get close to them says the
We break for coffee â€“ one delegate at least hastens to the 21st floor of the San Cristobel tower part of the hotel where there is a small cafe with an extraordinary view... and sometimes food .. search of a biscuit. But he fails.
The Chair thanks everyone for their comments and whale watching closes.
We move with alarming acceleration to the RMP (The Revised Management Procedure] â€“ the mechanism for quota calculation for commercial whaling.
The Scientific Committee Chair details this highly technical issue and picks his way throgh the relevant parts of the complex report from the Scientific Committee.
The Chair of the Scientific Committee asks the Head of Science for advice as he actually took part in the survey. The Head says that he agrees that the report should be clearer and they will try harder next year.
The SC Chair ploughs on through his report.
We move very swiftly to the RMS (The Revised Management Scheme) â€“ the management scheme for commercial whaling.
The Chair notes that work has been done on this for some time. No one has anything to sayâ€¦
The Chair thinks it is important too and notes that the
Then, suddenly, we are looking at the â€œReport of the Scoping Meeting for a Workshop on Welfare Issues Associated with the Entanglement of Large Whalesâ€?. This met a few days ago. The Head of Science works through this until his microphone gives up and a hand held microphone is raced in. The agenda for the planned workshop includes looking at
- The key species involved
- Identification of the most critical interactions
- Types of entanglements
- Damage and wounds caused
- National data
The suggestion is that a 4-5 day workshop is needed, perhaps just ahead of the next IWC meeting.
[Sorry, he did not say that bit about cooking.]
The meeting closes.
Two competing conservation NGO receptions now erupt. The first breaks out loudly in the foyer of the Sheraton blocking the way of air flight crews trying to leave and probably causing departure chaos in the international airport down the road. Co-hosted by the team from WSPA, their redoubtable leader can be seen chasing the waiters out from the kitchen area where they were apparently malingering with food and drink.
The noise continues for some time and then suddenly ends and delegates are encouraged to wonder off into the dark to a separate reception hosted by WWF somewhere near by. Let's hope they make it back for tomorrow. Let's hope that they bring bring biscuits from the outside world.