It is cool and cloudy in
[It is hot in the meeting room â€“ will the fragile peace hold in this heat? Certainly there are some hot topics coming up. Will there be biscuits. Will the earth move. How is the dancing going?]
The major of Taiji sits quietly.
Japan take the floor to refer to its claim for coastal whaling â€“ which is usually made at this point in the meeting. The delegate notes that the major of Taiji, one of the towns that conduct this type of whaling, is sitting quietly behind him. But in the new spirit of IWCâ€™s attempts to reach a common ground, they will NOT make this request this year.
There is a small pause. The earth shakes gently, somewhere a city dog howls and then we more suddenly into the review of
[The temperature soars].
The Scientific Committee Chair now describes the main part of the Scientific Committee report. He draws particular attention to the proposal for a new review process for lethal research that the Committee supports.
Switzerland takes the floor for the first time and he thanks the hosts and then the Scientific Committee for their â€˜tremendous and excellent workâ€™. He notes that scientific whaling is a difficult topic and so it is excellent to see this progress.
Japan seems to like the plan too. He notes that they were actively involved in achieving this success in the Scientific Committee and commits to the process. As far as scientific committee is concernedâ€¦ he hopes that the commission and general public will also achieve greater understanding of scientific whaling.
The chair is again peering towards the back of the room and cannot make out who wants to speak. [This is a big international meetingâ€¦ get him a telescope, lend him some binocularsâ€¦ come on.]
India compliments the scientific committee but also calls for the increased use of non-lethal methods.
New Zealand also welcome the report of the Scientific Committee but adds that it will come as no surprise to all that they oppose the scientific whaling programme in the southern ocean. This issue inflames people in
Slovenia, on the behalf of the EU block, notes that there are several non-lethal research techniques and that these allow for non-lethal studiesâ€¦ scientific whaling should be brought under IWC control in the first place and then phased out.
The Australian Minister, Peter Garret, strongly opposes killing whales in the name of science. There is simply no need to kill whales in this age. Special Permit whaling is commercial whaling and he has particular concerns for humpback whales and fins because of their conservation status. There is no defensible level of scientific whaling. No scientific reason for this.
He proposes that the approach to scientific whaling is reformed. The Commission does not currently play a part in approving these takes and he thinks it should. Indeed, Commission should agree by consensus such matters.
Secondly, research should seek to meet the aims of the Commission.
Garret concludes that Special Permit whaling can only be a source of division and it must stop.
Mr Cowan of the
Iceland says he will refrain from a long political speech, he does not wish to spoil the friendly atmosphere hereâ€¦. But does not agree with
St Kits and Nevis says, at some length, that this is an important issue and that such research is important for the fishing and whaling industryâ€¦ he says that sharing the economic benefits of whales will be an important development in future discussions.
Japan says shall we just go back to the usual exchange of acrimonious comments? He believes that positions are first made and then arguments follow from this. He knows that some countries say there is no need for lethal studies but â€¦ well he does not agree.
I might be convinced, he adds, if you say there is no need to kill any animal in the 21st century. People tend to close their eyes to the information not supporting their positions. The information from our studies is ignored because it does not fit with the arguments.
He continues at some length and is also concerned about how journalists report Japanese science. He calls on media and NGOs to join the lunchtime event where the latest results of Japanese science will be presented but urges also that there should be no emotion-based acrimonious comments there.
This issue, he concludes, is a symbol of the problems that we face.
Russia talks of Copernicus and the middle ages when we thought the earth rotates around the sunâ€¦ he was burnt at the stake and the crowd cheered. In this crowd was the beginning of the NGO movement. There is laughter and some low level jeering.
â€˜Japan' he adds, 'is clearly not researching whales so they can have a database of the lengths of the tails of the whales â€“ we will never work out the RMS or get out of the moratorium without this [lethal] researchâ€™.
Chairman â€“ there is no action here that we are coming to.
US â€“ We oppose
Portugal stresses the importance of science to the IWC but notes that modern research starts by minimizing lethal aspects.
Mexico notes that Japanese research has not even met its own aims.
Korea says that we do not use a single standard for scientific studies. In his delegationâ€™s view, problems have arisen because political decisions have prevailed. The decisions of the Commission have been charged by political values. We cannot stop scientific whaling under these circumstances. We need to return to reason [the floor is shaking gently]
Luxembourg is not happy with Special Permit whaling â€“ in the current state of knowledge, these are not meeting scientific priorities and therefore should be stopped and non lethal research techniques used.
St Lucia associates with
The Chairman says that he still has a long list of speakers and notes again that there is no action here.
Peru associates with
St Vincent and the Grenadines, however, associates with those that support lethal research â€¦ and so it continues.
[Now we are cooking]
Switzerland says that lethal research is only acceptable where other methods cannot work and any suffering of animals needs to be justified.
Spain goes back to what
The Chairman notes the report and endorses its recommendations, which include (if we can think back that far) the recommendations for a new review process in the Scientific Committee.
Coffee and no biscuits follow. [Come on
The restart of the meeting is delayed because with camera bulbs flashing at the front of the room, Morimoto-san, The Japanese Commissioner, is presenting Peter Garret the Australian Minister, with several volumes of what we assume are the results of Japanese research or perhaps a collection of books of Japanese recipes. It is not clear. Perhaps we will never know.
On to the SAFETY OF VESSELS.
[No cooling off in the Commission today]â€¦ This concerns actions against the Japanese whaling fleet on the high seas.
The Japanese statement includes the following sentiments:
â€œViolent actsâ€?. â€œHarassmentâ€?. â€œTrespassâ€?. â€œIrritable Chemicalsâ€?. â€œInterfere navigationâ€?. â€œSerious Damageâ€?.
Their spokesman says (in Japanese) that important people are watching how the member countries will react to these acts. The only organization mentioned is Sea Shepherd.
He mentions the need for co-operation between nations and the need to bring the wrong doers to justice.
Mexico speaks up to support
New Zealand fully shares concerns for the safe operation of vessels in the southern ocean â€“ the risk of maritime accidents and their consequences are of great concern. Next years the fleet will be in an area where they have rescue
There must not be risk to human life and property. They will continue to work with
Australia was deeply concerned with the escalation of matters in the southern ocean and whilst opposed to whaling under special permit and supportive of the right to protest but it must be lawful and so he calls for the â€˜utmost constraintâ€™. Our calls were not heeded last season and several incidents took place that were not in accord with safety at sea. National or international laws may have been violated.
Iceland notes that the Commission has already condemned this activity by consensus and welcomes the international co-ordination on this matter reported by
India gently recognizes the right to demonstrate but urges that it must be peaceful.
Peaceful activities would be encouraged says
We now come to that most important issue, the Climate Change workshop. [WDCS strongly supports this initiative.]
The Australian Minister speaks up strongly in support of the need to address and actively manage emerging threats. He is pleased with the climate change initiative and that one of his scientists, [we will name him â€“ the redoubtable, Dr Nick Gales], will Chair this meeting. He pledges 10,000 Australian dollars to the project.
Italy makes her first intervention and â€˜adds her voiceâ€™ to all other countries who have thanked
France also supports, as does
Costa Rica also welcomes the workshop. It is in line with the focus of their work and it is important for
Equador notes the threat of pollution.
Luxembourg (in the form of its scientific advisor) then congratulates the Scientific Committee on its excellent body of work on environmental issues. He notes that the Commissionâ€™s Standing Working Group on Environmental Concerns was exceptionally well attended this year and considered a broad range of important topics. We associate with the earlier comments of
Climate change is a fundamental threat to whales and it is entirely appropriate that this body should seek to understand it more fully. The Scientific Committee has made excellent progress in its preparation for this workshop and we thank them for their hard work. Details of the workshop can be found on pages 17 and 18 of annex K.
Noting that the workshop does not presently have full funding and some matters remain to be resolved, Luxumbourg requests that this agenda item is held open to allow us to consult with other delegations and to report back at a later time on progress.
Finally he thanks
[And here we break because the biscuit shortage is now so accurate that we have to go and have a lie down.]