Changes that would have encouraged collaboration with the United Nations to further protect whales and dolphins in the high seas could not be agreed on by governments attending the final day of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Panama.
Opposition from the whaling nations blocked consensus resulting in Monaco withdrawing its proposal and inviting countries to join a task force to discuss this issue further at a later date.
Yesterday (5 July), Member States agreed on a resolution sponsored by Germany and the other EU Member States, as well as Switzerland, on the ‘importance of continued scientific research with regard to the impact of the degradation of the marine environment on the health of cetaceans and related human health effects’. In short, this means addressing the negative effects of high levels of organic contaminants and heavy metals on the environment and how that impacts on whales and dolphins.
Germany, on behalf of the proponents, also noted the health problems arising from the high level of contaminants present in whale products and encouraged collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO)
NGOs take the floor
For the first time in many years, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) like WDCS were awarded the chance to express their opinions or raise concerns on issues chosen by them during the final week of the meeting. We are thankful for the opportunity to represent our supporters and civil society and we hope this practice will be maintained and eventually increased in upcoming meetings of IWC.
The new Chairs are appointed
St Lucia provides the next Chairman of the IWC and Belgium becomes the Vice-Chairman
And the next meeting will be in……
Scientific Committee will be held in Korea in 2013, and the plenary in …. to be decided when someone volunteers to host the meeting.
And in conclusion
In summing up the meeting, Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO of WDCS said; “After decades of the whalers abusing the IWC, WDCS is especially pleased to see the pro-conservation countries seeking to ensure that all the IWC Parties live up to the spirit, as well as the letter of the law. The advances in governance achieved last year and the message from this year’s annual meeting in Panama that aboriginal subsistence whaling should not be corrupted by commercial whaling, is a clear indication that the IWC now means business.
We sincerely hope that South Korea reconsiders its threats to resume so-called ‘scientific whaling’, and actually concentrates on eliminating its legalised sales of net-caught whales that is acting as a cover for its domestic illegal whaling”
You don’t successfully stop criminals by legalising their criminality
This year WDCS was pleased to welcome the fact that the IWC also addressed the issue of marine debris and ocean noise going so far as being willing to hold a workshop on the noise issue. The plight of small cetaceans was not forgotten and the IWC called on Mexico and New Zealand to address the plight of the Vaquita porpoise and the Maui dolphin respectively. WDCS has been campaigning to protect the Maui dolphin.
WDCS would especially like to thank the exemplary actions of the Latin American countries in pursuing whale and dolphin conservation at this year’s IWC meeting and the courage of those EU Member States who fought to ensure that EU law on the strict protection of cetaceans was not undermined.