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IWC 64 Blow by Blow Account of what happened

Here reproduced in one place and in sequence are all the diary reports from the WDCS team attending IWC 64, starting on the weekend before the meeting opened.

 

 

BLOG 1. STORM CLOUDS BUILD OVER PANAMA CITY

IWC 64 in Panamá City, Panamá

Here begins the blog from the WDCS Team at the sixty fourth meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

There are thunderstorms in Panama City today. There are often thunderstorms here at this time of the year. Not for nothing is this time of year called the wet season and, occasionally, the adjacent roads have adopted characteristics more usually attributed to rivers than roads, complete with currents, eddies, gullies and water-borne debris including the occasional unfortunate visitor. Today the rain is relatively slight and so we are only lightly drenched and not in immediate danger of being swept into any of the human-sized drainage holes along the road side.

However, vast black clouds are towering over the impressive and highly varied sky scrapers that form the city centre and small flocks of noisy bright green parakeets swoop into cover when the rain begins to fall. They know it can swiftly become torrential and knock them from skies. Lightening sears the eye and thunder rocks the vast meeting halls of the El Panama hotel which is currently housing the meetings of the International Whaling Commission. Meetings have already been ongoing here for over two weeks and until Monday they remain in ‘closed session’ and we cannot report from them, but we can speculate on what the key issues are going to be in the coming week.

Indeed, the atmosphere inside the IWC next week may prove to be as stormy as it is outside. The IWC is currently facing a few not exactly minor administrative problems. There is, for example, currently no chairman for the meeting. And, after the walk-out last year byJapanand its allies (which they insisted destroyed its quorum) and stopped its business dead, there is no agreed way to avoid this happening again – although many lawyers from many countries have undoubtedly been busy working on this.

If we can get over these hurdles, the meeting will actually start and have to agree to its order of business and this too is no simple issue. Last year after the meeting was closed down prematurely, it was agreed that it could resume where it left off, which would be with the debate about the proposal for an IWC Sanctuary in theSouth Atlantic. Now the big problem with that is this is the same issue that precipitated the walk-out in 2011.

For some nations that have people that conduct whaling under the category of Aboriginal Whaling this meeting (the sixty-fourth annual meeting of the IWC) is a critical one. This is the year that their quotas have to be renewed and because the IWC may move to a biannual meeting cycle they are seeking renewal periods of six years rather than the usual five. This is where the infamous proposal fromDenmark(on behalf ofGreenland) to kill yet more whales will be considered and you will find much about this elsewhere on the WDCS website. But for any of the ‘aboriginal’ quotas to be agreed, the IWC needs to be functional and three quarters of those voting need to be in agreement. These all look like high hurdles for the IWC to leap right now!

Other key issues at the meeting include whether or not the IWC will support the proposal for a South Atlantic Sanctuary for whales which, for many years, has been championed by Latin American countries in particular and also whether the IWC will expand its programme of work on environmental threats. In this regard, WDCS and others have been encouraging more effort to address marine debris. This is a growing threat in the oceans and its effects on whales and dolphins are only poorly described but there is reason to be concerned, and thiss is the kind of issue where the IWC can make a difference.

Historically, the IWC has made its decisions by resolutions, although in recent years it has endeavoured (unsuccessfully) to do its business by consensus. We may see more voting at this meeting. Resolutions are passed by a simple (50% +) majority. There are two resolutions proposed for this year, one concerns marine pollution and its effects on cetaceans and their human consumers proposed by the European Union countries and the other comes from Monaco. Monaco’s resolution calls on the UN to help sort out the problems at the IWC and is likely to be quite controversial.

So whilst we await the opening of the meeting on Monday and the lifting of the prohibition on reporting from here, let us tell you a little about where we are.

So, the IWC is being hosted byPanamaand held at the El Panama Hotel inPanama City (so definitely in Panama). The hotel is in the business district of a bustling and sprawling modern city (complete with highly idiosyncratic tower blocks) which marks the Pacific end of the famousPanama Canal. The Canal is, of course, the short route from the Pacific to theAtlantic (or visa versa) and is achieved via a series of massive locks (because one sea is a little higher than the other) and it helps to underpin the Panamanian economy. Some forty boats – mainly huge container vessels – transit each day. The average toll is apparently $100,000 and allegedly fees are paid in cash. The canal is an impressive engineering feat and quite an awesome sight. It is also getting bigger as the Panamanians expand it to allow even bigger vessels to pass through.

Coming back to the immediate locality of the conference hotel – which comes complete with swimming pool and a selection of sunbathing tourists which the be-suited delegates will soon be trooping backwards and forwards in front of – the streets are lively mixtures of hotels, tourist emporiums and cell-phone vendors. However, the most significant local buildings are the two massive adjacent casinos: cavernous darkened halls lined with thousands of electronic gambling machines and guarded by various levels of security agents and croupiers. (Please be assured that the only reasons that we know about them is that this is where the only local cash machines – the ATMs – live.)

It is rumoured that small groups of elderly American tourists enter this places never to leave. Lured in by the pretty lights and the great god of chance they spend their remaining years wondering the halls quietly spending their pensions and occasioning happening upon the coffee bars for nourishment and toilets for relief but never quite finding the way out.

The streets around the hotel are a riot of honking cars and taxi proprietors shouting ‘taxi’ at anything that looks like a tourist, in case this shouting (and honking) encourages the tourist to use their service. There is also a remarkably high density of a number of what might be generous described as gentlemen’s clubs and, somewhat incongruously embedded amongst them, a rather good and wonderfully inexpensive vegetarian café. But this may be pretty-much as much of Panama City as we shall be able to share with you for sadly our blog is not likely to focus very much more on the world beyond the El Panama conference centre as – of course – we need to report what happens within, where we shall again be gambling with the lives of the whales. That is unless of course the meeting stalls, in which case we shall probably leap in a taxi and head for the rainforest that flanks the Canal and go and set up a small working group there with some toucans and the local white-throated capuchin monkeys and three-toed sloths.

 

BLOG 2 One day until the Commission opens

IWC 64 plenary hall

This is the blog from the WDCS Team at the sixty fourth meeting of the International Whaling Commission

Daybreak is gray here inPanama City. A few black vultures hang high above the tower blocks; weird specs circling high in the sky possibly searching the streets for the odd prone body left over from the excesses of the night before. At ground level the long-tailed grackles are dancing on their big feet as they sift through the rubbish. There is no doubt that Saturday night is a big party night here. Long lines of limousines and large four-by-fours (most complete with blackened windows) were witnessed streaming into the casinos last night. A bus load of young female dancers were also seen to be delivered at the main door of one establishment. Then through into the early hours, loud music blared from the local bars and the streets were full of revellers, crazy driving and much honking.

Now, in the early hours of Sunday morning, it is much quieter for a while and then the loud and enthusiastic bells of the of the nearby beautiful gothic Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Church of our Lady of Mount) shatter that quiet and call the faithful to prayer. Along the streets leading to the El Panama Hotel, which is hosting the IWC, some bleary-eyed club and shop proprietors fail to meet that call and instead are busy sweeping and hosing down the pavements. The air is already hot and humid.

Soon, in the El Panama Hotel itself many key strategic meetings are happening behind closed doors. European nations are probably in coordination somewhere; the ‘like-minded’ (the pro-conservation countries) may also be meeting at some point; and, from mid-morning, we can be sure that the famous commissioners-only meeting which runs the day before all IWC meetings will be tackling those sticky issues of chairing, quorum, agenda and so forth. To what extent these closed meetings achieve agreements that set the scene for what goes on for the rest of the week is unclear but we can be sure that they are doing something important in there.

Meantime, back in the El Panama, lesser delegates and non-governmental observers (sometimes referred to here as NoGoes or more usually NGOs) listlessly roam the halls meeting and greeting and gently lobbying each other. In the big pool in the centre of the El Panama many delegates – malingering scientists and others – have donned their bathing costumes and are forming small but no doubt strategically crucial working groups out in the water. This may be their last chance to see daylight for a few days so they will be trying to make the most of it.

Elsewhere in the city there are events today to celebrate the whales and the largest of these is an event at the Clayton in Ciudad del Saber (City ofKnowledge) – an aerial display in support of the proposal for the South Atlantic Sanctuary.

But come early afternoon and just when we expect an important closed-door IWC commissioners-only meeting should be occurring, we find a large number of these very same commissioners and their staff propped up on the tables around the El Panama pool bar. What has drawn them here and why are they not locked in fierce debate in some firmly-sealed overly air-conditioned room somewhere out of the public eye? The answer is apparent on the big TV screen behind the bar whereSpaincan be seen trouncingItalyat football.

Apparently the closed-door meeting is enjoying a prolonged coffee break to allow the distinguished delegates to enjoy the match, and watch the heavy rain falling a few feet away. (The rain has also blissfully reduced the humidity and the heat.) Will there be a Chair, an agenda, a functional meeting. Stay tuned!

 

Blog 3. Some matters are settled and a vote is held for the first time in four years

2 July 2012 – 7:06pm by laura.doehring

Report from the WDCS Team at IWC 64 – Monday Morning

Monday starts off as a sunny day. The heat rises off the streets and grackles forage amidst the detritus as delegates make their way slowly (in order to minimise perspiration) to the big conference halls of the IWC.

We exchange the traditional greeting with the locals:
Taxi
No gracious
Taxi
No gracious
Taxi
No
Taxi
No

And so forth.

Inside the halls of the El Panama conference centre: at first the doors leading to the vast main hall remain firmly closed as final tests are made on sound and light systems. Then an avalanche of delegates pours through the doors and ranges around the rooms seeking name plates and flags. At sixteen minutes past ten the meeting opens. Many NGOs are delighted to find that they have tables to lean on. Many delegates in larger country delegations are not so blessed and can look forward to balancing their lap tops on their knees or neighbours for the next five days.

Herman Oosthuizen the South African Commissioner and chair of the previous meeting calls everyone to order and welcomes several Panamanian ministers and the assembly of several hundred people (including over 90 pro-conservation NGOs).

Simon Brockington, the Executive Secretively of the Commission, resplendent in a sharp suit, then makes a welcoming speech. Sixty-nine contracting parties have arrived as of last night, he tells us, and adds that whilst everyone is aware that we deal with difficult issues here, this organisation, the IWC, has considerable strengths – the commitment of the contacting parties is amongst these. He is pleased with the increase and volume of intercessional work. This increase has been witnessed during the previous week of meetings where he was also struck by the positive atmosphere and outcomes.

What are our other strengths? He asks and then briskly answers his own question. Efforts to address ‘governance issues’ are amongst them. Being able to review one-self is a healthy thing, he stresses. The IWC also has great knowledge. We have tremendous assets in the scientific committee he adds. He wishes everyone a successful and harmonious meeting and is applauded.

The Panamanian minster of foreign affairs then addresses the meeting and welcomes everyone to the 64th meeting.Panamahas recently established a corridor for the study of marine mammals and to promote whale watching. He also tells us about the Panamanian stranding programme and adds that the IWC is seeking to move forward and he hopes that we have a nice stay.

There is warm applause and we are suddenly, startlingly (and perhaps dangerously) plunged into darkness except for the festive lights of a hundred laptops and iPads. Then a video begins and we are shown some beautiful film of whales and other marine wildlife, including our old IWC friend, the whale shark.

There is applause and the lights come back on and a few delegates have changed seats.

Acting Chairman Herman asks us all to remain seated as a procession of ministers, their staff and some press leave and then we break for coffee.

During the break a small flock of NGO delegates hand out squeezable ‘stress dolphins’ to delegates. A swift coffee later and a new voice is speaking from the Chair – it is Bruno Mainini of Switzerland, who has been selected by the closed commissioners meeting yesterday to act as Chair for just this meeting. Is this acceptable? There is a pause and then applause slowly builds. He looks pleased.

Simon Brockington reports on credentials (which means who does and does not have voting rights). Japan and New Zealand met smoothly on the credentials committee we are told and the Czech Republic and Peru had problems, but new credentials for the Czech Republic just arrived.Peruis asked if she has presented credentials and she says they will follow soon. Simon also confirms thatUruguayhas paid its dues and he now reads out all the countries in arrears that have their votes suspended. This list includesGreece,Hungary,Congo,SlovakRepublicand many others.

Chairman Bruno then explains how he means to conduct the meeting – we want people back promptly from coffee breaks and he wishes to meet with no more than ten NGOs to discuss how they will be allowed to speak – something which has been quite controversial in the IWC.

Simon Brockington tells us we need to be ‘smart-casual’ for the Panamanian reception tonight. He then explains how the microphones work: A commissioner pressing his button will flash green and be registered to speak. A second press of the button will cancel it. ‘Press it once and wait’ he adds and chuckles.

Chairman Bruno moves to the agenda and asks if anyone has any comment.

Denmarkconfirms that his button works as advertised and then thatDenmarkis here as an EU member.Denmarkgenerally allies itself withCyprus(who as the current holder of the EU presidency will be summarising the position of the EU nations), except when speaking forGreenland.

There are no other comments. So, quite swiftly, we have a Chair and an adopted agenda. The first item will be sanctuaries. The issue left hanging last year when the pro-whaling block walked out.

Brazilhas a flashing green light in front of him and now firmly and carefully presents the sanctuary proposal on aSouth Atlanticwhale sanctuary. He notes that this matter was thoroughly discussed last year and there has been a small revision to the proposal. He notes among other things that the proposal is to protect whales within ‘ecologically meaningful’ boundaries. He hopes the proposal will be adopted using rule E – preferably by consensus. There is a pause.

Japantakes the floor. He is opposed to the proposal. It is vague and lacks a vigorous approach and is a ‘shot-gun approach’ with little rationale. He adds that the SAS is more prohibitive than precautionary. There is no commercial whaling in the southern Ocean so the whale resources are recovering. It is an absolutely unnecessary proposal. He hopes IWC will make calm judgement and reject proposal.

Indiais delighted to be in the beautiful and picturesque city ofPanama, thanks the hosts and stresses his support for the sanctuary.

ColombiathanksPanamafor organising the meeting and is committed to the non lethal use of whales. She supports the sanctuary.

Next St Kitts and Nevis, represented by Commissioner Daven Joseph, he sees nothing new but then proceeds to criticise it at length. The proposal could have far reaching negative consequences. It would show that a few countries could impose their narrow interests on how the high seas are managed. This is the business of the international community and not just a few states. He is also concerned about the United Nations Law of the Seas. He notes that the countries have not included their own economic zones in the sanctuary. They are protecting their own interests… yet they want to impose it on the rest of us. He is worried about marine transport.

Antigua and Barbudais equally sanguine about the proposal and states that the scientific committee has flagged concerns about the sanctuary proposal. It would be a ‘feel good – self seeking’ measure she adds.

Norwaymoves in. They support whale sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) when they are justified. There is no scientific justification for it he says briskly.

Ecuadoris completely in support.

AustraliacongratulatesPanamaon the good organisation of the meeting and the Chair on his election. The sanctuary is ‘entirely consistent’ with article 5 of the Convention which provides for the establishment of sanctuaries. She speaks of economic benefits – that they draw interest and also that whales provide ecosystem services. Two weeks ago inBrazil[at theRio+20 meeting], her prime minister called for the use of tools like this to protect marine biodiversity.Australiastrongly supports the sanctuary and no whaling should be allowed in this or any other sanctuary.

Others speak in similar vein – either strongly for or against. Church bells ring in the background.Icelandcares for it not all and emphasises again the issue of the exclusion of the EEZs (national waters).

Cyprusintervening for the first time on the behalf of the European Union nations that are parties to the IWC notes that she holds the presidency of the EU and supports the proposal. She is also grateful toPanamafor hosting.

Switzerlandcongratulates his colleague for being elected to the chair and is in favour.

Chairman Bruno notes that many are still waiting to speak but he is hearing nothing new and there is no consensus. How would you like to proceed he asksBrazil.

Brazilsays we are discussing matters under rule E – the commission shall make every effort to reach consensus but, if this cannot be achieved, then there is a procedure to follow. He believes all aspects of this issue have been discussed and all questions answered and seeks the Chairman to start the procedure by vote.

The Chairman agrees and Simon Brockington is invoked to explain the procedure.

Cherry Alison from the Secretariat also comes to the stage to assist with counting and Simon notes that they will take matters very carefully this is the first vote for 4 years and the first that he has run. But he is interrupted

TheRussian federationis waving his flag enthusiastically. Do we have a quorum in the meeting he asks mildly? Not all delegations have credentials, have registered or are paid up!

A quorum is 45. Simon has no doubt there are more than 45 members present. He asks Chairman Bruno if we need to count. The Chairman thinks there are more than 45 and that we can proceed.

Simon continues and a spead-sheet table appears on the screen. The first government to vote will beSlovenia. He explains the vote – this is for a schedule amendment for the south Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. It requires a ¾ majority to pass. If you support the establishment of the sanctuary you vote ‘yes’ – if you do not ‘no’.

[Will the new microphone system cope with this?]

There are four categories of votes – yes, no abstain and ‘not participating’.

And so we start.

Sloveniais first and reminded to press his microphone. He says carefully ‘We support and therefore we say yes’. After each vote the Executive Secretary repeats the vote and it is noted on the spread-sheet on the big screen.

We will not record each vote here. The voting pattern is somewhat predictable. TheUSAhas a problem with the microphone and shouts ‘yes’. Demark says ‘yes’ but notes he has an explanation for his vote which he will make later.

Then to some surprise and delight Gabon says ‘yes’ – seemingly breaking away from the west African anti-vote and Morocco abstains.

The result is as follows:

Yes =38; no = 21; abstentions = 2; and not-participating = 0

Chairman Bruno says thank you everyone. I know some will be disappointed (the proposal having failed to achieve the required 75% majority of votes) but this vote in which everyone is participating is a good sign that we are functioning well.

Denmarksays he has been instructed to support the proposal as put today.Brazilthanks everyone who supported them.

We break and the NGO are told to go and talk to themselves.

 

Blog 4. Voting is not declaring war

Report from the WDCS Team at IWC 64. Monday afternoon

In the lunch break (and thank you Panama for continuing to feed us) less than ten NGOs of various types are seen to meet with Chairman Bruno. Viewed from a distance his gesturing is emphatic and he is probably explaining the rules to them and that he means to be strict. A little later a small delegate from the World Society for the Protection of Animals is seem nervously approaching him on the main stage. Perhaps she is seeking a little more than the five minutes she was allotted. Around the big hall the audio technicians are seemingly incensed because someone appears to have cut the line between some of the microphones and in the entrance way to the hall a dangerous coffee spill has occurred on the now extra-slippery marble. Many delegates are negotiating in the pool.

As noted earlier, the issue of whether non-governmental organisations should speak during the IWC meetings has been controversial. In many other international for a, comments from experts in non-governmental groups are welcomed. For example the voice of WDCS has been heard in the meetings of CITES and the Convention for Migratory Species in recent years. However, at the IWC, we have got no further than experimenting in the last couple of meetings with very short comments from NGOs from ‘either side’ and these short comments have been little more than an opportunity for delegates to take a short comfort break.

The NGO interventions being planned this year will have to abide by the code of conduct for observers and not say anything inappropriate – which may mean not being critical of any contracting government. It is rumoured that a special seat is being developed for those making NGO interventions. It will be similar in design to a medieval catapult. In the event that an NGO commentator launching forth on a five minute intervention says something inappropriate, a member of the secretariat will be empowered to press a button that will shoot them high into the air and back into the NGO ranks at the wings of the main meeting room. Further to this plan, there was also allegedly some discussion about whether the NGOs could be shot at as they travel through the air and if so what weapons might be used. The cold harpoon being supported by some and others suggest a more humane approach such as a darting gun.

The meeting resumes and we return to the Sanctuary discussion which seemingly has not concluded.Norwaywants to make a comment on South Atlantic Sanctuary. He notes that Brazil has said that it will come back with this proposal next year and he wishes to comment. This has been on the agenda for a long time and should be subject to a full and thorough review by the scientific committee. The Chair of the Scientific Committee reports that no items were raised on sanctuaries in her committee and the Chair of Conservation Committee notes that the second international conference about sanctuaries for marine mammals was held in Martinique earlier this year. He thanks sponsors and notes the special attention it paid to the critically endangered vaquita.

Many countries are now offered the floor but none of them actually want to speak. The new microphone system is playing tricks on us. So, we jump an agenda item and Japan starts to address us on the topic of ‘The Future of the IWC’ and mentions the potential for biannual commission meetings. The Russian Federation says that as he is speaking for the first time he will thank the hosts [did he not speak earlier?]. He wishes the chair good luck during these difficult sessions. Having wished him good luck he notes that he does not fully agree with the chair that voting shows the commission works well. In his opinion it does not work well. And he would like to know which countries wish to still work on the future process. He proposes a ‘way forward’ that the working group on the future continues and, whilst it does so, there should be no votes on sanctuaries and some other matters.

India now speaks – he is of the view that the moratorium should continue and IWC has been playing an important role in conservation of the whales. Perhaps he adds we should rename the convention as the International Whales Commission. Guinea then extends felicitations and speaks of the obligation to work hard to save our Commission. He is pleased with the Scientific Committee and urges everyone to try to move forward and he reminds of the previous IWC Chairman, Bill Hogarth, who tried to avoid voting and work against the ‘impasse’. Australialikes our efforts on improved governance. She notes that the Commissioner from Japanspoke about biannual meetings and she agrees with him. The best way forward is to focus on those matters where agreement can be reached. She says the future group is over – its work is completed. It is over; it is over, she says over and over. The distinguished alternate commissioner for Argentina agrees. Significant progress has been made and now we start work on new issues, such as marine debris. Korea starts to speak and high pitched squeaking sears a few ear drums and he is told to remove his head phones.Korea reconfirms its commitment to conservation and sustainable use of resources. He thinks the current stalemate can only be met by working hard.Ecuador likes Argentina and Australia. Mexico says before voting on anything please think of all the closed processes that have failed here and he lists them starting with the Irish Proposal. He says let us build on common issues – and he too mentions marine debris.

Now Monacospeaks – he says that the future of the IWC is a ‘fragile construction’ but there are clear indicators of progress, for example in the work of the conservation committee. However, our big problem is that our own resolutions are ignored by our members and here he refers to the resolutions to be discussed later in the week. He adds that ‘a call to a vote is not a declaration of war’. It is a normal democratic process.Chile next speaks up. He likes what many that have spoken before have said. He lists them and then adds that, on the issue of the controversy that relates to voting, he sees no need to establish that voting is a declaration of war. The Chairman attempts to summarise that voting is an acceptable process. But Belgium wishes to say something. He wants to add to what has been said before. The procedure needs to be improved. We need to build our scientific capacity he adds enthusiastically. Chairman Bruno suggests Belgium could be briefer, that he will be more strict in the future and when he ‘throws the line’ that will be the end of it!

We finish discussion about the future of the IWC with no clear conclusion –  but also no ongoing work planned – and move to Whale Stocks and the Scientific Committee (SC) Chairman, Debi Palka, struggles briefly to separate her head phones from the microphone and then tell us which part of the SC report we should be reading. Debi tells us we have at last an estimate for minke whales in the Southern Ocean. This has been many years coming. She adds that the current estimates are underestimates and there are at least two genetic stocks that meet at a ‘soft and sex-specific boundary’ [which sounds like a lot of fun]. The Scientific Committee is trying to determine how the population is changing and Debi looks forward to telling us more next year or ‘when you guys meet’ [and here she is referring to the possibility that the Commission will not meet next year but only the year after]. Debi notes that Japan was trying to conduct a sighting survey this year and this was prevented by a protest group [which she does not name]. Another survey is however planned. Chairman Bruno thanks Debi and her Scientific Committee for their hard work and asks for any comments.

Mexico is pleased that Antarctic minke whale estimates have been concluded and notes the possibility of a decline has been highlighted.

Australiais similarly pleased and notes the importance of the circumpolar surveys and that sadly the ‘SOWER’ survey work is no longer continuing. She also notes the importance of the comprehensive harassment [Editor: ‘assessment’ I think] of other species and ongoing work in other fora. She also notes that there is a variety of interpretations of the apparent 30% decline between the last two Antarctic surveys and that this emphasises the need to keep working on this in a non-lethal manner. There are some odd booms and then Japan expresses his heartfelt appreciation to the Scientific Committee and notes we have an estimate and the need to clarify further what is happening. [He does not make a commitment to non-lethal research.] Indiais interested in Antarctic humpbacks and further research which should include small cetaceans. Chair Bruno concludes and the Commission notes the Scientific Committee report and endorses any recommendations.

Debi now comments on the seven stocks of Antarctic humpbacks. Work has progressed well although Debi is concerned that calling the stocks A-G is not very imaginative. Many local humpback whale researchers were able to join the SC this year and Debi notes that this is a benefit of moving the meeting around the world. The Commission notes the Scientific Committee report and endorses any recommendations. The blue whales now move in. Debi tells us the latest information about them which includes new reports on Chilean blue whales.Chilenotes blue whales were heavily hunted on her coastline and that the animals there may be a new subspecies. The Chilean navy have been helping in research and a partnership between different nations sharing photo-iD images exists.

The critically endangered Western north Pacific grays whales enter the hall. Several have been tagged off Sakhalin Island Russia. The anticipation was that they would migrate and breed to the south but to Debi (and everyone else’s) surprise they moved across the Pacific, one even going to Mexico. Some scientists have even suggested that the whales that used to migrate past Koreamay now in fact be extinct. Mexico notes that the gray whales in Baha California have recovered thanks to international cooperation; an important lesson he says and he congratulates Dr Bruce Mate who is in charge of tagging whales. Russia notes that the western gray whales population structures needs more work and that not all scientists agree there are separate populations. He reminds the meeting that there was a sighting of grey whales off Israel and Spain. It seems they are ‘restoring their historical settlements’ and returning to the North Atlantic. (There is some giggling from certain scientists still scattered as lurking variables around the room here.) He notes that it is true that oil companies are busy in Sakhalinbut they are also putting much money into research. And their activities are governed by environmental impact assessments. A third oil platform is indeed planned and it has passed its environmental impact assessment. Local and international NGOs are also helpful. The UK urges that appropriate mitigation plans are put onto place especially if another platform is to be built and supports the IUCN western gray whale initiative and working group.

Southern right whales enter the halls. Argentina hopes we will have a population estimate soon and notes great effort is being made to achieve this. Other small stocks swim by facilitated by Debi’s soothing delivery. Then we come to the POWER cruises, which are research cruises to count, biopsy and photo-iD whales in the North Pacific.Japannow speaks to say that he hopes the IWC will continue to support these surveys and Japan promises to continue to cooperate as much as possible in these surveys. He thanks the US and Korean governments for their support. Debi has nothing under ‘other stocks’ and so the stocks issue is done for another year.

After afternoon tea and some dangerous coffee spills that have formed slippery puddles on the polished marble of the hotel and convention centre, we enter the complex and controversial world of aboriginal whaling with the report of the sub-committee that met last week. Austria (briefly mistaken for Australia) asks about the domestic situation with regards to the US Makah hunt. TheUS says that hunt is subject to domestic environmental assessment and other factors.

We move on to the issue of aboriginal needs. The report from the aboriginal subsistence whaling workshop last week is read and then Vincent and the Grenadines (St. V & G) now moves to answer a question from Argentina asked in the working group last week about whether samples from its humpback hunts had been taken from harvested whales. He says that samples have been sent to Japan where Dr Goto looked at them (considering 8 kinds of microsatellite loci). However, there were also some problems with the 2003-2006 samples when the preservation fluids they were in failed.

The UK welcomes the submission of data and samples from the St V &G hunts. He encourages timely provision in the future and hopes whale welfare will be improved, including via participation in the appropriate working groups. Argentina asks St V and G about a second whale noted in the media and not in the official accounts. St V and G reminds the Commission that the requirement is to report whales taken in the previous year (not this) and he has reported appropriately. One whale taken in 2012 was verified, sampled and samples sent to theUS. The samples have been received and they are now interviewing the crews and will report any stuck and lost [and perhaps take] next year.

The Chairman now calls Australia. They believe that aboriginal subsistence whaling must follow the appropriate processes and they have previously noted their concerns about ad hoc advice. She seems to have some concerns about extending the quota.

Indiathen notes his position that the IWC should work on reducing dependence on whales although India is highly conscious of the cultural and subsistence needs of peoples. They prefer whale watching and eco-tourism. Russiais concerned at this statement [could this be a rematch of the fierce debate between these two countries last year?] and notes that there is ‘no rice in the tundra’ – no alternative source of food. He recalls that India said something similar last year and that there was discussion between the two governments further to this and regrets this new statement from India and that this will lead to further discussion.

St Vincent and the Grenadines says that he is a bit confused about the International Whaling Commission being concerned with phasing whaling out. His take is a very small one but other countries require these takes for their very survival. Guineahas similar sentiments.

Now comes Argentina and he apologies for taking the floor once again. They do not object to aboriginal subsistence whaling when it meets the correct objectives as they understand them: that it would be for subsistence purposes. He sat in the working group and we expressed two positions which he would now like to emphasise – we want to see catch limits in numbers and not tonnage. Tonnage presents many problems. It would be clearer to use numbers. [Greenland uses weight of meat from different species combined and not numbers.] Argentina also feels – especially if we move to biannual meetings – we should not move away from the five year block and especially for those populations where the limit has not yet been determined. In this sense we must express concern about the catches of St V & G andGreenland. They do not for us, he stresses, meet the definition of aboriginal subsistence whaling. They have a commercial element that is higher that would be allowed and he refers back to the comments made by theDominican Republic in the Aboriginal working group.

The Chairman asks all parties if they could wait for the presentations of the countries asking for aboriginal subsistence whaling. Korea generally supports Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling but they have questions on the block quota presented jointed by St Vincent and the Grenadines, Greenland and the USA. He asks if the unused portion of the block quota should be carried forward. This requires careful consideration he says.

Greenland wishes to counter the points from Argentina. We have heard a number of times that they cannot comprehend the conversion and he cannot understand why they keep asking this. This is a multispecies hunt and 660 tonnes is the human need. It can be satisfied by the various combinations of the species caught. We fulfil all criterias for both concepts. If anyone doubts it, they should read the Greenland paper. It is very informative and only 94 pages. (There is some giggling.) St.V & G wishes to respond to Australia about their hunt. Questioning their hunt and linking to something said by the Dominican Republic– oh sorry it was Argentina he clarifies. We have had a quota for [the past] 25 years. If for 25 years, this body considers us not to be aboriginal then something has to be wrong with all of us, he adds very loudly, and certainly to bring this to the forum is ‘regressive and regrettable’ and it brings the question ‘where is the future of the IWC’?

Chile says the proposal covers six years so if we don’t know when the next meeting is we believe it is difficult to come to a decision. Monaco supports aboriginal whaling when it follows the rules but he shares the comments made by Argentina and he says over the years that St. V & G has never convincingly demonstrated convincingly the that it qualifies as aboriginal and he notes that he is one of the longest standing members of the Commission.

The Chairman is now ‘throwing the line’ but will allow Mexico to speak. He does and the Mexican Commissioner supports Argentina, Chileand Monacoand adds that not even in the schedule [of the IWC] is the St. V and G hunt listed as aboriginal.Belgium says he will not take a position now because he wishes to hear the presentations first but he adds that whilst the scientific committee has found that the takes will not harm the stocks, there is more to quotas than this! And with that we adjourn and consider going to a reception.

Please note that the WDCS blog strives for accuracy but is not verbatim nor an official record of what is said. We welcome corrections.

 

Blog 5. The First Vote on Aboriginal Hunts

Report from the WDCS Team at IWC 64.

Daybreak reveals a gentle milky sky and a flock of some thirty tovi [or orange-chinned] parakeets cackle noisily on the telegraph wires overhead as we head to the conference centre. These small parrots are queued up for the breakfast provided by the nice man who has a bird table out on veranda of his apartment. The gentle sky may be a kindness as there may be a few sore heads (and feet) this morning further to the reception provided by Panama last night when many delegates took to the floor and danced the light-fantastic to Latin rhythms provided by two live bands.

At nine am sharp, with what might be called Swiss precision, Chairman Bruno is in his seat and, shortly after this, calls the meeting to order and thanks Panama for a nice reception during which he hopes many delegates had useful discussions. [This would have been difficult noting the volume of the bands but we can hope.]

The redoubtable Doug DeMaster, Commissioner for the US, now briefly makes a presentation of the three ‘bundled’ aboriginal quota requests from St Vincent and the Grenadines (St V &G), Russian and the USA. [Note that the request for an increased quota from Denmark is not in this same ‘bundle’, which it is proposed would be voted on as one quota, meaning that a vote against the St V and G quota would also have to be a vote against the US and Russian requests.]

All the catch limits he tells us are sustainable as agreed by the scientific committee. He had intended to be brief but, further to the comments yesterday afternoon, he believes that he will need to say more and address the three issues raised yesterday: Whether we go to bilateral meetings is irrelevant. The six year block will need to be reviewed in 2018 and a meeting is scheduled then…. The scientific committee (SC) advice is very clear and there is no scientific basis for a five year block period being safer than a six year one. The results of considerable efforts from the esteemed members of the scientific committee have also endorsed the carry-over aspect. Finally, the issue of whether St V & G meets the term ‘aboriginal subsistence whaling’ – the Commission has previously agreed that it does and they have [also] improved their hunt. We should not reward good behaviour with a vote against it.

George Noongwook the chairman of the Alaskan Whaling Commission is passed the microphone. He represents four of the Alaskan villages that depend on whales. Their life is different to the life most of us experience. They have one local store with very local groceries and other produce. A pound of meat might cost 11 dollars there. There are a few jobs in the village apart from working for local government or the school. They don’t get most of their food from the store but from the wild. Most of you – he adds addressing the hall – will never visit our villages but the statements that you make here have a very real impact on peoples’ lives. We take the rules very seriously. People cannot sleep when the quotas come up for renewal. People worry about how they will feed their families. Our bowhead stock is healthy, we know this from our observations and science confirms it. Most of you here will never have to prove your need for food but we have been told that we need to do this. In 1997, the IWC asked us to increase the efficiency of out hunt and we have done that, and despite deteriorating ice conditions. We continue to work on upgrades to our weapons. We have faced many threats to our quotas – this madness has gone on for many years and this is devastating to us. I don’t want to keep saying negative things. That is not my way. It is not the way of my people but you need to know that what you decide here affects us. We are a people just as you are even if our way of life seems alien. Our food comes from the oceans and not the grocery store. If you would like to learn more several of us have left our families. Please come to our booth at the Expo centre and thank you in advance for your support for our proposal: a proposal by theRussian Federation, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the USA. Thank you very much.

There will be a possibility at the end for NGO interventions, says Chairman Bruno, but first he opens the floor for the Commissioners and the secretariat start to prepare the special NGO catapult.

The Dominican Republic feels that in theCaribbean humpback whales are looked at differently. 40,000 people go whale watching in their sanctuary. We have not had aboriginals in our region for three hundred years. St V & G has broken many rules. We do not support their hunt.

Japansaid he has listened carefully. We think sustainable-use based on scientific findings is important and Scientific Committee has said that it is possible to have sustainable use. We strongly support the proposal.

Ecuador agrees with aboriginal whaling, as long as it is properly supported. However, we reject the application from St V and G. It is not aboriginal. It is a recent development and there is a lack of compliance and we ask them to withdraw the request.

Mexico speaks next he notes that there is no problem with the stocks that the US means to hunt – 12,300 animals in this stock which has recovered and this has been helped by the Alaskan Whaling Commission. The implementation review of the bowhead whales is sound and the scientific committee should be complemented. Russia also complies with the rules. The case of St V and G is complicated. It is in a single package and we would have liked to have dealt with each hunt separately. St V and G is much closer to commercial than aboriginal whaling. We would like to offer technical support to St V and G in terms of whale watching.

Guinea says that the SC has agreed sustainable use is possible and will not harm the stocks.

Colombia believes the requests should be taken separately and the St V and G request came late. The information provided yesterday should have been presented to the Scientific Committee. They too offer help to strengthen skills in whale watching in St V and G.

Chairman Bruno now asks countries to associate with other and be brief. [He is throwing that line.]

Chile is worried about the proposal too, including the timing of hunts and associates with the Dominican Republic and others. They support Russia and the US but would like to see separation of the St V and G proposal because they do not comply and challenge the moratorium.

Costa Rica respects aboriginal whaling in the case of the USA and Russi abut, regarding the request from St V &G, it does not have sufficient scientific rigour and she speaks of discrepancies in their reporting.

St Kitts and Nevis congratulates the aboriginal whaling caucus for coming together to defend their rights in this forum. He speaks with increasing volume and notes that we are all conscious of the needs of coastal and marginal peoples as confirmed at Rio+20. He congratulates the USA for showing the leadership and courage here. Rights must not be trampled on by some here, including those who in their own countries are struggling to defend the rights of their own people. This proposal has met all the standards required by our Commission. It falls within international acceptable norms and we must underline the fact that the law of the sea convention give coastal states the sovereign right to utilise marine resounded in their waters as they see fit and for some states is rude and bordering on racism. We small vulnerable countries are being singled out. This is scandalising the reputations of fellow Caribbean and Latin American countries and congratulations to the Dominican Republic on the millions that they make from whale watching. St V and G only want fours whales from a stock of ten thousand! Who gives Argentinaand others the right to tell others how to use their resources. These countries – he adds with great emphasis and volume – are ‘rude’.

Just yesterday, continues Daven Joseph, forSt Kitts and Nevis, I was listening to the news.Australiawishes to sell live cows toIndonesia. The amount of cows coming out ofAustraliacould take up all the land space onPanama! Would we tellAustraliahow to sell four of these cows? NO! This is ‘colonialism reborn’. Some countries are trying to impose their will on a small country. Every country comes here with its own interests but we must come here in the spirit of compromise. We have guidelines from the scientific committee and clear protocols.

I ask you to desist from bigotry and do what is right!

The Chairman asks St Kitts and Nevisto come to an end. And he does – and the Chairman adds sternly that he is not interested in discussions about whale watching or cows in Australia.

St Luciais called to the microphone and as this is the first time she is speaking she thanks the hosts and, further to the reception last night, calls for dance-offs rather than debates. She tells the Dominican Republic that there are full blooded indigenous peoples living in the relevant countries and she agrees with theUS about the sustainability of the hunts. St Lucia always bases her decisions on science and food security is also important. The whales are being taken to provide food!… do not split this proposal this will build distrust and animosity. … let us be rationale and not point fingers about what is aboriginal or not. The question is are these hunts sustainable; and.. yes they are.

Iceland supports the block of quotas and celebrates the fact that he has whaling and whale-watching side by side. This has been going on for ten years and they are compatible. ‘It is very easy to run this together.’

India enjoyed the reception and says so. He is not opposed to subsistence whaling based on actual needs and scientific assessment. But India is opposed to commercial use.

Cyprus is called to the microphone and speaks on the behalf of the member states of the EU that are parties to the IWC and supports this proposal. The EU is committed to supporting the rights of indigenous peoples and the need to meet their subsistence needs. We are guided by the precautionary principle and the scientific committee and I think that is all Mr Chair. (And apparently it is).

Apparently Korea also had a nice reception experience and has sympathy for the needs of aboriginal peoples and stresses that Korean coastal whaling shares much in common with aboriginal whaling. They too have a long history going back to prehistoric times and in some areas such asUlsanwhale meat is still enjoyed. They would like to support aboriginal subsistence whaling but he emphasises that certain peoples in certain countries have suffered from the moratorium – some people who had traditionally taken minke whales for food. Fishermen inUlsanarea had been expecting to take whales again for food after the moratorium ends. And he mentions the need to recognised cultural diversity.

Antigua and Barbuda associates with the supporters of the proposal and adds that in 2012 we need to respect the Scientific Committee. The request before us will not harm the stocks. Food and nutritional security are human rights and no country should have to prove its need for food.

Denmark notes that the three countries in the quota block currently being discussed have taken a different path to Denmark but he supports them whole-heartedly. He fears that the IWC will go redundant if we don’t accept this request. The Inuit peoples should not have this need each year and he opposes splitting the proposal.

Some other speakers follow and we will just sample a few here –South Africa promises not to speak about other large animals and fully supports the proposal. Switzerlandalso fully supports it and opposes splitting it up.Israelthinks the same.Argentinaechoes the concerns and comments of others in the Buenos Aires Groupo. He is unable to support the proposal as it is. Brazil makes similar sentiments. Monaco states again that there is no evidence of earlier hunting in the Caribbean. He says we need a historian to help us in the commission not just scientists. He will not interfere in consensus.

The NGOs are now allowed to speak. Louise Mitchell Joseph a native of Bequi [the island from which the St V and G hunt of humpback whales is conducted] now addresses the Commission. She supports aboriginal whaling where needs are genuine. This is not the case in St V & G. Never in the history of archaeology in her country has there been any evidence of whaling associated with aboriginal peoples. There are no petroglyths. This is an activity learnt from Yankee whalers. It cannot be justified on economic grounds. It is conducted by people of mixed race. Not all of the people on Bequi eat the meat – much of it is taken to the main land. The current trend amongst young people in Bequi shows declining interest and finally she notes it has a negative impact on tourism before Chairman Bruno cuts her off.

Matthew speaks for the Bequi whalers. We are not gross exporters he says. We all have to be green but not necessarily the same hue [of green]. Some seek to impose their values on communities still recovering from colonial suppression. He does not agree that indigenous communities cannot use new technologies to further their lifestyles.

Chairman Bruno: There are no formal requests for splitting, so is there consensus

Loud static fills the air and a few pieces of moist tumble weed roll through.

Argentina and Ecuadorcall for more time to consult.

We break for coffee and more blogging.

We return and find Chairman Bruno calling on the congregation to now tell him if consensus has been found in the coffee break.

Uruguay, on the behalf of the Buenos Aires Groupo, replies that there is consensus on Russia and the USA but not on St V and G. He asks for the Chairman’s advice.

Mexico urgently calls on Panama to host another reception on Thursday (evidently Lorenzo needs to dance some more). He moves on to ask for the opportunity to vote separately on St V and G.

The Chairman calls on the US to speak. TheUS opposes efforts to divide the proposal and re-states that they all (in his opinion) meet the standards required and a joint proposal should be considered.

So, says the Chairman we must go to a vote and Simon Brockington, the Executive Secretary (and a renown dancer as of last night) now explains again how the voting procedure works but Antigua and Barbuda asks for clarification – are we voting separately or jointly she asks?

Jointly says the Chairman. A distinguished Commissioner is seen sprinting across the slippery marble to his seat.

Simon says there are enough commissioners here to be quorate. He can see enough commissioners or alternate commissioners in their seats. Oman’s credentials are not yet in order and he will not be called on to vote.

The vote by roll call begins. The EU nations vote ‘yes’. The Latin American countries vote ‘no’ with the exceptions of Mexico and Panama. TheCaribbeancountries ‘yes’.Australia‘yes’ and so on. TheCzech Republic is registered as not participating. Gabon votes no; all other west African nation yes. India abstains. Monaco abstains.

48 yes, 10 no, 2 abstain and 1 does ‘not participate’

Mexico explains his vote. His national laws require him to safeguard the cultures of indigenous peoples – he asks that the bundling of quotas does not happen again. He supports the US and Russia because it is inline with the aboriginal definitions and not an increase. He reiterates his concern about the St V and G hunt.

Costa Ricarespects the hunts of Russiaand the USA and then makes similar comments toMexico.Ecuadorfollows suit, as do others includingArgentina.Monacosimilarly notes he does not support the request from St V and G – the fusion left us in a situation of having to abstain and calls for this mechanism of fusing quotas to be abandoned.

The Chairman now calls on Greenland viaDenmarkto make the presentation of their quota request. This is a multi-media event with many contributors and a long power point. We shall focus here only on a few issues and you will find further information about this proposal elsewhere on the web.

Greenland stresses that this is a multi-species hunt based on weight of meat and that several species are taken, including bowhead whales fromDiskoBay. [They do not mention their takes of small cetaceans which include orca.] The population used in the calculation of this request is the whole population ofGreenland

Whale products are sold in restaurants – ‘people like to go out and eat nice dinners once in a whale , as anywhere else’.Greenlanddoes not consider this a commercialisation of hunting.

The floor is opened now for comment.

Norwayspeaks of the embarrassment of having to make needs statements.

St Luciarefers to ‘water water everywhere and not a drop to drink’ [and probably by doing so wins some kind of a bet] but that in the case ofGreenlandit is ‘ice ice everywhere’. The Scientific Committee supports this and so does she. If this quota is denied other resources, including small cetaceans, may be targeted to meet needs, she adds ominously

Japansays that they are consistent in their approach on each proposal and the Scientific Committee repeats its advice that science will not harm the stock. As the Danish Commissioner explains and theGreenlandrepresentatives told us we can obviously and definitely confirm the indigenous nature of this hunt.

Icelandnotes that Greenlandic whaling is based on scientific advice from the scientific committee and the current needs are not met by the status quo, so they support the proposal.

TheDominican Republicnotes that they seem to be working on the conservation of whales in his country, so others can eat them. Has the Scientific Committee ever looked at the issue of whether watched whales are easier to catch? He also comments on the only very limited data on meat conversion factors based on very limited sampling and weighing. He is equally concerned about the lack of inspectors. TheGreenlandwhite paper also notes that because of pollution concerns, whale meat is not recommended to pregnant women and children, but the tourists are never informed of this.

Brazilnow speaks on the behalf of the Buenos Aires Group. They do not see this as an aboriginal take. The Scientific Committee is working on the development of long-term strike limits and the Scientific Committee has advised against a multi-species approaches. He would like the Scientific Committee to finish its work before this quota goes forward.

St Kitts and Nevisbriefly fully endorses theGreenlandproposal.

Heavy rain is now falling on the roof.

Switzerlandrespects the rights of indigenous peoples and if some parts of the meat are sold commercially that is acceptable. To deny this would be to impose a false and romantic view of indigenous whaling – they support the proposal.

Ecuadorassociates with theDominican Republicand states there is a strong commercialised element.

Russianotes the SC supported the catch for Greenlandand there is a need for the meat and there is a need for products from the hunt to be exchanged for money, as noted in the results of the working group. Exchange of whale products for other foods causes shortening of life and increase in disease. Food resources should be diversified and this diversification is what people are used to and marine mammals cannot be substituted by domestic animals as suggested by some, for example India. The substitution of rice for tea is not recommended he adds. He adds that there are two NAMMCO countries whaling –Canada andIndonesia – that are not members of the IWC. Do the opponents of this hunt wishGreenland to also move outside of the IWC. It is not in our interests to isolateGreenland. We should adopt this decision by consensus.

The Chairman seems to sigh, but we move on.

Argentinasays that the reception last night was very good and thanks Greenland/Denmark for the information provided and then refers to the conversion factors [meat to whales]. The Scientific Committee has commented on the lack of details and concerns about the weighing procedure.

Antigua and Barbudacalls on the scientific committee for support.

[A few EU nations have been seen running around but none speak.]

The Chairman notes that this item will be held open but he is not planning a further discussion on this. Is this OK for youDenmark?

Denmarksays that he has heard no rejection of his proposal just some concerns.

[He might add that he has heard nothing at all from the EU nations here.]

He agrees withBrazilthat the long-term Strike-Limit-Algorithm is needed. He thinks there could be consensus here (is he not listening). ‘So my feeling Mr Chair is that there is some kind of consensus… at least try’!

But the Chairman breaks for lunch and a torrential deluge follows which may well affect any subsequent voting as many delegates may be stranded in local hostelries (if they have ventured beyond the relative safety of the El Panama complex). Some smaller NGOs may have been swept away all together. We shall see.

 

Blog 6. Parrots and Marine Debris

Report from the WDCS Team at IWC 64. Tuesday afternoon

After a short visit to the world of daylight out on the road where the tovi or orange-chinned parakeets live, we are returned to the vast gloomy meeting hall.

The tovis, by the way, live in a flock of some 30 individuals and they range along the road to the south of the El Panama and beyond. Most are paired up. Indeed within this flock are seemingly many happy couples. They typically sit in pairs on the telegraph lines and ledges provided by the apartment blocks and casinos that line the busy roads. The pairs often gently preen each other and when they are feeling particularly romantic they gently exchange small offerings of food; mainly fruit but occasionally a crunchy beetle or a refreshing ant, or even something they have found on the streets, especially after the local human partying of Friday and Saturday nights.

Anyway, back to the meeting. The Australian minister (Tony Burke – an old hand at these meetings) has arrived and he now reminds us that at the 2010 meeting when we last discussed theGreenlandquota, a consensus was arrived at only with great difficulty. This new proposal fromDenmarkis not in accord with this previous agreement he emphasises clearly. We were told byGreenlandthat there would be an opportunity to lower the number of whales taken. Now, two years later, we are being asked to increase it and various undertakings made in 2010 have not been met.

Indianotes that various NGOs are providing reports on this issue and he does not support the proposal.

New Zealandwill not support an increase in quota, especially given the difficult discussions of two years ago.

Heavy rain hammers on the roof and thunder shakes the hall.

Japanstruggles to be heard against the noise of the deluge. He prefers consensus and notes the report of the scientific committee.

Chilereiterates concerns and is surprised thatDenmarkasks for a quota that lasts until 2017, meaning that we might not be able to review it before 2018.

Mexicohas a long stream of concerns, including why no information is provided about protein sources from the flourishing fisheries ofGreenland.

St V and G thanks those who supported their application during the ‘bruising’ they received earlier. They support all aboriginal whaling.

The Chairman asksGreenlandwhat they would like to do.

The Danish Commissioner says that this is just a machine that goes on and on. There are no rules on the humanity of the activity in the IWC. If you could catch a whale with a baseball bat you would … but that is not acceptable, we have asked the whalers to buy canons. Each costs $2000. If you want to dehumanise the hunt then continue, Mexico, with your request. It is an excuse. I know Mexico well enough to know he will go in with a decent hunt. The quota duration is not a problem and with respect to the comment fromAustraliawe have fulfilled your expectations we paid at the last meeting by exchanging fins for humpbacks. I like the brevity and clarity ofNew Zealandwhich just says they accept. They do not debase themselves with coming up with [spurious] arguments. I will not ask for a vote. Let us keep it open and I will tell you when there is a possibility to take it up again.

His Greenlandic colleague also wishes to speak and she talks about licensing and the Greenlandic white paper recently submitted here. [94 pages]

The debate about Greenland is now paused and the Chairman takes us on the report of the Conservation Committee – agenda 8, 9 and 10.

Dr. Lorenzo Rojas Bracho, the distinguished commissioner for Mexicoand Chairman of the Conservation Committee, now tells us about ‘stinky’ gray whales and that this famous phenomenon may relate to ingestion of hydrocarbons. He passes the baton then to Debi Palka (SC Chair) who outlines the Scientific Committee’s report on ship-strike related issues which includes a proposal for the maintenance of an officer to work on entanglement and ship-strikes.

Lorenzo also notes thePanamamarine traffic separation scheme which is intended to help reduce ship-strikes on cetaceans.

He tells us about the rest of the Ship Strikes agenda item noting that Frederic Chemay, the new IWC commissioner forBelgium, has taken on the role of the ship strikes chairman.

Cypruscomes to the microphone. On the behalf of the EU nations that are members of the IWC, she rapidly lists a range of threats including marine debris, now recognised as a threat through entanglement and ingestion. She notes that ship strikes are a problem and, more concretely, when a whale gets entangled it may be more susceptible to a ship strike… and a whale wounded by a strike may become infected. The IWC can play a significant role in coordination and investigation [of such issues] – the IWC Scientific Committee has done some work on small cetaceans – we are convinced that this work is most important in the future.

Panamaspeaks to their work in trying to safeguard for whales the entry areas for thePanama Canaland would welcome advice from others too.

Francenotes that ship strikes are important to them and also the relevance of the Pelagos Sanctuary [in the Mediterranean] to this. Francewill also continue to work on disentanglement and likes data collection and sharing information with ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS [the two European cetacean agreements].

Argentina thanks Mexico for this work and supports the work of the committee on ship strikes. CouldPanamagive a presentation to the Scientific Committee on their efforts?

TheNetherlandswelcomes the initiatives for workshops in the Caribbean looking at entanglement and theNetherlandswill be contributing financially to their organisation.Australiacelebrates Lorenzo and also stresses the importance of the ship-strikes data coordinator.

TheUSthanksPanamafor the wonderful reception andMexicofor leading this committee. They call for all to take part in this group. TheUSis also working on the ship-strikes issue and they too support the Caribbean workshops and thank theNetherlandsfor financial support.

BelgiumechoesCyprusand thanksMexicofor his excellent chairmanship and looks forward to more of the same.

Bruno now notes NGOs will shortly be called on to speak on items 8 and 9 [the catapult is presumable being prepared somewhere].

We move on through the Conservation Committee’s report [incidentally all reports are now on the IWC website for those that wish to read them].

Southern Right Whales now swim in andChileandPeruare keen to protect them.

The national reports on cetacean conservation are noted and we suddenly move, perhaps a little confusingly, to whale watching. Scientific Committee chair, Debi Palka, takes us through the whale watching part of her report, noting a call for training workshops. The Scientific Committee has recommended to itself to keep this matter on its agenda. Her committee also looked at the proposed five year plan for whale watching. She also notes a recent workshop was held inPanamabringing together people interested in these matters.

The Chairman now comments that as we are now talking whale watching and therefore an NGO should be alerted to the opportunity to make an intervention on this. [The catapult and stopwatch are primed.]

The Chairman of the Conservation Committee now completes his report on whale watching too.

The US reports on whale watching activities in his country and that they use the Dolphin Smart and Whale Sense Programmes – which are voluntary and we can find out more about them at the booths somewhere outside [in the rain].

Indiasupports whale watching and eco-tourism but it should be safe for the whales and whale watchers.

Argentinasupports work on whale watching. This is an activity ongoing since the 1970s and supports all the recommendations from the committee.

Panamahighlights whale watching as a wonderful non-lethal use of resources.Panamacan be promoted as a first class place for whale watching. We mean to carry out this activity sustainably inPanama. We are training our tour operators.

Cyprus, on the behalf of the member nations of the EU, notes benefits to many coastal communities an this can be driving force for ecotourism. Whale watching can also make a valuable contribution to research. In the past few years we have an increased dialogue between the SC and the CC and this helps to develop science-based options for whale watching.

Others speak similarly and this includesKoreawhich has whale watching in theUlsanarea.

The first of this afternoon’s NGO speakers now comes to the microphone: Augusto Gonzalez of CEBSE notes $7 million indirect income from whale watching in his country. This is significant. They often see the same whales each year and the whales already face many threats – all of us here share the whales as a single resource. The whales always come back to the country where they are born. Our whales are important and valuable.

A tricky coffee break follows when many delegates seem to struggle with all the marine debris circulating in the halls.

We resume and, in fact, marine debris now surfaces very swiftly and Debi tells us briefly about her report. The relations between cetaceans and marine debris is poorly understood she says. A workshop has been recommended and, amongst other things, it would looks at the issue of standardised criteria for debris and a centralised database.

Australiasuggested that this workshop should be held jointly between the Scientific and Conservation Committees.Australiashares the growing concern about pollution and debris and welcomes the work by the scientific committee in this respect. This is a global concern and they welcome the joint workshop – another excellent example of the work that the two committees can do together. We note that a large number of other international organisations are also looking at this and she reiterates that she welcomes the JOINT workshop.

Cyprus is now speaking (as you know on the EU members of the IWC behalf) and is delighted at the successful work of the conservation committee and looking at the many issues from the SC and we commend them for their work on the growing and important problem of marine debris and in particular plastics. This threat is not fully understood we can help to fully investigate it – we note many bodies have recognised the need for coordinated action.

TheUSnotes the global partnership on marine litter. They also have a domestic initiative which is ‘Fishing for energy’ (he would like to send us to the Expo booth outside again to learn more about this). In the Fishing for Energy initiative fishermen collect old gear and use it as a source of clean renewable energy and any metals are separated and recycled.

The UK, in support of Cyprus notes the valuable work being done by a number of countries including Panama on this issue. The UK supports the joint workshop as a joint initiative.

Austriain support of the EU statement adds that he would like to fully support any and all IWC endeavours in the field of marine debris. The IWC has recognized 7 environmental concerns, and marine debris spans across at least 3 of these, namely habitat degradation, chemical pollution, and fishery interactions, and involves important aspects of IWC scientific and technical work, for example entanglement , but also including ingestion of plastic. Marine debris, as one of the most visible and perhaps controllable forms of pollution, ranging from microplastics to giant nets, is a threat to cetaceans, and we therefore support and are looking forward to the results of the proposed IWC marine debris workshop to be held in 2013.

Argentinalikes the marine debris initiative too and mentions various examples of where the problem can be seen and inArgentinathey expect to do more on this.

Redoubtable Claire Bass of WSPA and today’s next NGO to be briefly allowed near a microphone has only one minute to speak – as the five generous minutes awarded under this agenda item has been split between her and a colleague.

She says:

Thank you Mr. Chair. On behalf of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, I would like to thank the government of Panama for the extremely warm welcome it has extended to NGOs at this meeting, and also for the wonderful reception last night. [12 seconds used]

WSPA wishes to congratulate the Conservation Committee on the excellent breadth and quality of its work. We believe that the IWC should seek to divert a greater proportion of its time and financial resources to its growing conservation agenda, and in particular that the Commission should undertake a review of the work of its Scientific Committee with an aim to afford more time and budget to its conservation work. {33 seconds gone – hurry up Claire] I speak on behalf of many NGOs in welcoming the addition of the issue of marine debris to the Scientific Committee and Conservation Committee’s agendas, via a joint workshop. As noted by several member nations, this is an issue which already has the attention and concern of many other intergovernmental bodies, including the UN, and welcome the suggestion by Australia, the European Union and other speakers that the IWC should seek to co-operate with such bodies in order to contribute to multi-agency solutions on this global problem. [one minute plus gone – bad Claire]

Finally, Mr. Chair, I am pleased to tell you that the Environmental Investigation Agency, OceanCare, ProWildlife and WSPA will collectively be contributing £17,000 in funds towards this workshop. Thank you Mr. Chair. [30 seconds over]

The chair says that was quick but a also bit too long – so the colleague following will have less time but the extra £17,000 was worth the thirty extra seconds. There is (for the first time) widespread laughter.

Lorenzo moves to resume his report which now looks at the voluntary fund for research in small cetaceans. But first he thanks Claire Bass for her donation.

He notes a variety of concerns about various small cetaceans – and appears to congratulateMexico(i.e. himself) for his work on the vaquita and then apologise for doing so.

Nick Gales, the lead scientist from Australia, notes how important this work is that many of the most endangered cetaceans are small ones.

TheNetherlands aligns itself with the statement by Cyprus and donates some money to the ‘smalls’ fund.

Germanytakes the floor for the first time extends compliments to the host and is concerned about the noise coming from pile driving. He announces some new survey work on porpoises that may help to understand and mitigate this issue.

Italynow donates 15,000 Euro to the Small Cetaceans Fund and theUKprovides a donation of £10,000. It is clear from the level of support for this work says Nigel Gooding theUKCommissioner that it can only go from strength to strength.

Argentinasays that small cetaceans are integral to the IWC.

Francewill make a contribution too [but does not say how much].

The Chair moves to close but Monaco waves and apologises for being half asleep. He is very concerned about the declining levels of many small cetaceans but here it is a misnomer. We need to look to all cetaceans.

We seem to move to some local wildlife when a sloth is then called forward…

No sorry it is Birgit Sloth, a Danish conservation NGO and the chairman reminds her she has less time than she should because of Claire Bass.

Many threats are worse for small cetaceans than big she says. Our activities affect not only the giants of the sea but also their small relatives. The small cetacean fund is a good example of cooperation between NGOs and governments and also involves local communities. Our Danish Whale coalition will collect and make available some funding for this. [2 minutes and 54 seconds]

The Chairman thanks her (and the NGO catapult is put away for the day).

Finally, Lorenzo tells us that the new Vice Chair of the Conservation Committee is theUK’s alternate Commissioner, Mr Jim Gray. There is some gentle back slapping in theUKdelegation and polite and slightly reserved cheering as befits the British delegates.

Lorenzo now tells us about the conservation plans which the scientific committee also seems to be pleased with. The scribe now refers you to the rest of the Conservation Committee report as published on the IWC website as a comfort break is required.

Link to IWC documents: http://iwcoffice.org/_documents/commission/IWC64docs/iwc64docs.htm

We move to close for the day and Bruno Chair tells usAustraliais doing a side event at theCrownPlazaat 6pm and there will be reception tomorrow by the conservation and welfare NGOs – invitations will be provided in the morning.

Has the rain stopped yet? Will we be washed away? What do the small parrots do in the afternoon when it pours?

We rush unwashed and hot to the reception hosted byAustraliabut more of this tomorrow perhaps. Here ends the report from Tuesday.

Tales from the pool side – episode one (and perhaps only)

As a small respite to readers from the IWC meeting we bring you a short romance: a story of inappropriate and unrequited love, inspired by the locality and its avian denizens.

Fernando, the leader of the tovi parrakeets, has a secret. His secret, from the perspectives of his people, is an inappropriate love. He has fallen for a beautiful young female, which in itself would be of no concern to his flock-mates but what is awkward about this particular romance is that the object of his desire is a bird of another species; a species known by the unlikely and somewhat undistinguished name of ‘variable seedeater’.

Now the variable seedeaters tend to malinger around the sparse vegetation that fringes the swimming pool of the El Panama Hotel in Panama City (in Panama). Here a handful of trees and shrubs and large blue pool form something of an oasis in the middle of the hotel and indeed the surrounding business district. This is a relatively peaceful zone away from the busy roads and the major construction site to the west of the hotel. Quite a few birds use this area. Not just the long-tailed grackles that seem to permeate throughout the urban sprawl and but also some more exotic birds, even the occasional brilliantly coloured tanager and exotic woodpecker.

Some of the delegates to the IWC meetings emerging blinking into the daylight from the vast cavernous meeting halls devoid (as is traditional for the IWC meeting place) of windows, have been delighted to spot the occasional flash of plumage around the pool and this has also helped to explain (or perhaps excuse) the occasional IWC delegate seen surveying the swimming pool’s periphery with his binoculars.

Anyway, amongst all the avifauna disporting itself around the pool, the variable seedeaters are probably the dowdiest. They are small robust birds with black conical bills and, as their name implies, they are variable in plumage, mainly black with a variety of other markings that vary across the various races seen across the Central American region. At least that relates to the males. The females are in fact – at least to the human observer – even a little duller: olive-brown above, paler below, and with white wing linings, but for some reason that we may never know Fernando, the bright green tovi parrakeet, finds one of these little brown birds very lovely. For some little while he has been stealthily leaving his flock, gliding down to the pool-side and presenting the object of his growing admiration with small offerings of fruit. She has been somewhat alarmed by the sudden appearance of this larger green bird by her side and she has, of course, entirely missed the point of the fruit because she is a variable seed-eater and her variability does not extend to fruit. Fernando is equally perplexed.

We will strive to bring you occasional updates on this seemingly misplaced love affair as the IWC develops. Perhaps we shall draw some strength and inspiration from this pool-side romance.

 

Blog 7. Korea decides to go Scientific Whaling

Report from the WDCS team at IWC 64: Wednesday morning; The advent of ‘reckless whaling’!

We can hear the Tovi parrakets as we wake up. They fly by chattering and shrieking and then settle at their usual morning post on the telegraph wires opposite our modest hotel awaiting breakfast. There seems to be much gossiping in the flock this morning.

The big issues for today are:

• Where are we with theGreenlandrequest for more whales?

• DoesKoreareally mean to start scientific whaling on the endangeredSea of Japanor ‘J’ stock of minke whales?

• Can the EU nations find a clear voice on issues or will they coordinate themselves to a standstill?

The heavy rains of last night have washed the streets somewhat cleaner and we advance towards the moist marble opulence of the El Panama Hotel under a cloudy sky. On route, the various street vendors of various things are variously vending them.

Curiously, inside the main hall, the first arrivals are the handful of scientists left over from the earlier meeting of the Scientific Committee here inPanama. We spot the Greenlandic scientist and his counterparts inFrance,Austria,Luxembourg,NorwayandJapan. The distinguished figure of the WDCS Director of Science – currently annexed to theUKdelegation – can also be seen striving to remove a large gobbet of chewing gum from the sole of his shoe. All these gentlemen have been malingering in these halls for far too long.

As the clock ticks towards nine, other delegates start to rally. The Chair is in his seat on the dot of nine and sadly surveys the room, noting the poor time-keeping abilities of others.

EU delegations have been in coordination (probably all through the night) and their commissioners look especially bleary eyed as they enter the room; or is this more to do with the fine Australian reception last night.

The Chair opens the meeting at nine minutes past nine, and reminds us that the issue of the request fromGreenlandfor an expanded hunt is still in play. [We know.]

He also notes that some of those NGOs will be allowed to speak again. Those who will be given their five full minutes of fame – including remarkably Claire Bass again – are told that they must stay in the room all day because there is much on the agenda and the Chair means to be strict.

We move to the agenda item covering Whale Killing Methods and Associated Welfare Issues and the report of the meeting held on June 25th.

Michel Stachowitsch (one of those lurking scientists) and the distinguished alternate commissioner for Austria(resplendent in his traditional wooden bowtie) gives the report of this meeting which he chaired. The full report is on the IWC website. Various papers were presented and three countries noted that they provided their reports on this issue to NAMMCO as they found this more satisfactory.

The full report of the meeting last week can be found on the IWC website but as Michel takes us through this. We note that the Chairman of the Eskimo Whaling Commission had noted that its hunt was 75% efficient and that this is an improvement.

Euthanasia was discussed and it was concluded that the appropriate tools were often not available for use at sea. Guidelines include putting the welfare of humans first and animals next.

The Chair offers the microphone toTanzaniabut he really does not want it.

Cypruson the behalf of the EU members gathered here at the IWC believes that the IWC has a clear role in animal welfare issues.

Australianotes with concern the highly variable reporting of welfare data by some members. Three countries reported to another organisation, she adds, butAustraliadoes not see this as an alternative to reporting to the IWC and regards this instead as an abrogation of responsibility to the IWC.

TheUSA[happy 4th of July guys] congratulates Michael on his workshop, supports its work and highlights the successful work ongoing inArgentinaandBrazilon disentanglement. TheUSis donating $12,000 for apprentices to come fromArgentinaandBrazilto theUSbe trained in disentanglement.

St Vincent and the Grenadinesuses darting guns and there seems to be some improvement generally, except when there is adverse weather. They are looking at an enhanced weapon system. The guns they currently use were made in the previous century and are consulting with theUSand other countries.

Japantries to make an intervention – we hear ‘testing… testing… this is the microphone – we will try again’ then.. Mr Chairman, thank you very much. We have been presenting reports to the IWC and the relevant authorities in the IWC for the improvement of killing methods and for the safety of workers voluntarily. I believe that we have obtained results and reduced times to death and improved efficiency. From the standpoint of animal welfare we have been able to follow the IWC guidelines. We have agreed that reduced times to death are more humane and we have fulfilled this purpose. The data that we have provided voluntarily has not always been used for the purposes intended. They have been used by anti-whaling organisations and nor for the purposes intended. Therefore Japans reserved the right on this.

Argentinathanks theUKfor its recent workshop on whale killing welfare and supports its conclusions. In the Buenos Aires Group (BAG) they have always supported whale welfare.

Mexicothanks ‘Mike’ for this chairing and associates with theUSAand David Mattila.

NowNorwaycongratulates Greg for his report … and also Michael for chairing. However, he adds. I have listened to some of the speakers here and if criticism is being addressed toNorway, it is not justified. From 1993 more than 25 reports have come fromNorwayand from 1980 we have worked in the relevant workshops and data from 5,500 minke whales have been presented. We have worked to improve our and other hunts. We found that the discussions in IWC were not very productive. Sometimes they were counter-productive so we took them to another body where they can be more sensible. There we could discuss animal welfare and not whaling. Our data were often twisted and misused and the outcomes of some recommendations were counter-productive. Whale hunting is a legal activity and we as hunters should improve our methods and we will continue to do so.

I suppose, says the Russian commissioner gently, that everyone is aware that we are a peaceful country and we help countries reach their independence. Over 200 years ago we stopped the British fleet in US waters and today is Independence Day for theUSA, and we are pleased that we helped with this. There is laughter and applause and some head shaking. He adds that the times to death in the Russian aboriginal hunt is declining and less bullets are being used. 45 new darting guns have been purchased for the Russian hunt and they are grateful to the Norwegian whale killing expert (Uncle Egil) and also for help from theUSAand others.

ColombiaandArgentinathink welfare is important and the latter thanks theUSfor its training support.Brazilsupports the recommendations of the whale killing group and also thanks theUSfor its support on disentanglement and thanks the famous Mr Dave Matilla who was instrumental in all this.

India appreciated the work of the United Kingdomand thanks them.

Michel continues with his report and describes Mr Matilla as a pillar.

Amongst other things, the intercessional work by theUnited Kingdom(a workshop complete with recommendations) is noted – this was intended to try and find ways forward on this topic. Several countries had thanked theUKfor its work last week and Michael notes thatNorwayand theUKhad joined forces to provide a good atmosphere for good animal welfare. An expert workshop on euthanasia of large whales was mooted to help entangled and stranded whales where euthanasia was the only option. Unconsciousness and death in whales are often difficult to determine and techniques should be improved. Liaison with other animals welfare bodies was also urged.

Chairman Bruno thanks Michael for the great job that he did. TheRepublicofKoreaagrees and finds the [efficient] killing of whales desirable. Whales caught in set nets are usually found dead and any attempt at euthanasia has usually not worked but under article ten of their new directive inKorea; any person who has incidentally caught whales must report it promptly to a police station and take necessary measures to rescue it. Likewise theRepublicofKoreawould be pleased to provide relevant information on this matter.

Mexicois keen on welfare and theUStoo – they thank theUKfor hosting a constructive and successful workshop. TheUSagrees that animal welfare activities are much wider than just whaling and theUSsupports looking at welfare across a wider range of matters. He hopes thatGreg Donovan’s overview of welfare will be published.

TheUK in support of Cyprus– thanks Michael for his excellent chairing and other countries for this contribution and will coordinate the intercessional work. He invites all contracting parties to take part in the work and will report back to IWC 65.

The NGO catapult is prepared and Claire Bass of WSPA is allowed again to speak. She also congratulates theUK on its welfare work and welcomes the recognition that many activities’ can affect whale welfare and lists countries which have recognised that a range of activities affect whale welfare. She looks forward to constructive and collaborative work on welfare and she suggests that the intersessionl group could draft some guiding principles which could cover all areas of the works of the commission. There may be costs involved in this and she makes another donation – £3,000 – to help this.

Chairman Bruno thanks her for her presentation and for the donation, and she must have been on time as she is not scolded in the least. He now consults with the executive secretary and then notes and endorses on the behalf of the whole Commission the report of the welfare group.

We move to item 12 – ‘Socio-economic issues and Small Type Coastal Whaling’ and, as is traditional at this point,Japanpresents its case for a special quota for its coastal communities. He notes the similarities between their claim and aboriginal subsistence whaling. The case is calmly presented and he now tries to pass the microphone to the chairman of the small type whaling towns. A small microphone problem ensures and then we are told that 25 years have passed since the moratorium came into place. Many small towns had whaling as an integral part of their history and small type coastal whaling is small-scale and coastal resources of minkes are healthy and abundant. We have utilised whales for thousand of years and he provides more details of these traditions.

AUKminister arrives and there is much bustle in theUKdelegation and a lap top computer is gaily thrown in the air and then allowed to crash to the ground to celebrate his arrival.

Korea then speaks up – if anything more strongly thanJapan– about his traditions including the famousUlsanpetroglyphs that show ancient whaling. The Commissioner is concerned about the effects of the moratorium. The Korean government is under pressure from the people of theUlsanarea (one of the coastal villages). They doubt that the IWC is taking this issue seriously and supports the request fromJapanand notes the similarity to the situation inKorea.

St V and G has a clear understanding of this issue and the regrets the constant denial of this request by the IWC and they identify with the coastal communities of Japan and the lack of empathy of people here for his people and the people in Greenland. Thanks much.

Guinea agrees

Australia says this is a commercial quota proposal and an exception to the moratorium. Commissioner Donna Petrachenko explains thatAustraliatherefore cannot support this proposal which would undermine the moratorium,Japanspeaks about science butAustraliahas concerns about the viability of any whaling in this region and notes there are many other threats, including ship strikes and marine pollution (but no mention of marine debris). She adds that the conservation status of J stock whales remains unknown: this is a ‘protection stock’ and should not be whaled upon. That would be a disregard of science. Efforts need to be made to recover this population. We have heard talks about sustainability andAustraliacannot support this proposal she says very clearly.

Iceland says that the long history of this proposal shows we have a problem operating in a sensible and sustainable way in this forum and supportsJapanands also the views ofKorea.

TheUSassociates withAustraliaand remains concerned about the large removals of whales offJapanandKoreaand notes that they support that the Scientific Committee should complete the review of these stocks at the next meeting. They also support the continuation of the moratorium and hence not the Japanese proposal.

Denmarkasks if any scientific whaling will be conducted in addition to the quota. What would be the number taken for scientific purposes – only if this is done [provided?] can they take a view.

Russiasays that no one in this room has such a long history of whaling as Japan. This started 9000 years ago. Only Korea has a similar history – the Japanese were the first human beings to utilise this resource. The Russian Commissioner has been to these ‘villages’ [or as the scribe knows big cities] and seen the celebrations when a whale is landed and the emotion involved. It is important to protect their cultural tradition. He calls on distinguished delegations to support cultures worldwide. InPanamahe has been to several restaurants and in all they ask for the traditional Panama food and, as a rule, they ended up with a hamburger or pizza! It is important to keep traditions and we support Japan. He calls for a decision made by consensus.

New Zealand says this is a difficult issue and he does not doubt the impact on coastal communities of the moratorium but ‘that was over 25 years ago’. He is also sorry about the impacts of the tsunami and NZ was one of the first to send in a rescue team. But he cannot support this exception to the moratorium. The commercial nature of this hunting means NZ cannot support. If we review the committee’s report you can see how difficult it is to identify the population structure. The boats involved in small type whaling also take part in scientific whaling – producing hundred of tonnes of whale meat. The Government of Japan has authorised the takes of many whales. University research has shown the communities are not suffering. We do not support.

Cyprus on the behalf of blah blah blah does not support any ‘new type’ of whaling and has serious doubts about impacts and the lack of defined need of coastal communities.

Ecuadoris also concerned and does not support.Argentinaprefers to have the report of the scientific committee report before this happens. He also notes a large quantity of meat unsold (1200 tonnes). Why do they need more?

Monaco is ‘completely opposed’ to commercial whaling and associates with Australia.

Colombiarespects the rights of all people to food but fully supports the moratorium and STCW might establish a new loop hole.Costa Ricathinks this will open up commercial whaling and supports others with similar concerns. Chile aligns itself similarity. This is because of high lethal bycatch the ongoing work of the Scientific Commitete and because STCW is a way if lifting the moratorium. They also note reports of radioactivity in the whale meat and suggest that people should avoid easting it.Brazilalso does not support.

Chairman Bruno notes that he has closed the list but now lists others than wanted to speak but will not be allowed to.

The NGO delegate who was poised to speak, a Mr Eugene LaPointe of GGT, is also not allowed to take the floor as he cannot be given precedence if countries are not allowed to speak

Japan thanks those countries that expressed support for his proposal and he is aware that there has been opposition. He supported aboriginal whaling yesterday and notes (again) the similarity of the whaling he proposes [as STCW]. He does not understand the commercial concerns – agriculture and forestry also have a commercial nature – why should whaling be exceptional. According to the rule of procedure he would like to consult with concerned countries and keep the topic open and tomorrow and the day after come back to this topic.

A frenetic coffee break follows. Many delegates are consulting – Greenland is seeking votes for its expanded quota; Japan seeks votes for its small type coastal whaling and much coffee is spilt.

Ice dancing on wet marble allows delegates to return to hear Scientific Committee Chair Dr Debi Palka speaking about matters relating to stock assessments and the RMP (the agreed mechanism to calculate commercial quotas) – this is an especially dense part of the Scientific Committee report.

The US notes that the fin whale quota approved by Iceland is more than three times greater than what the Scientific Commitete would approve. They also do not think that a sei whale implementation is appropriate at this time.

Icelandthink their fin whale quota is good ‘variant 2’ and stresses that this was also discussed by NAMMCO, which thinks the takes are precautionary.

The UK associates with theUnited States. The catch is 1.7 times higher than what would be approved by the RMP

Argentinasays something but it is not translated. We assume he associated with theUSandUK.

Debi now tells us about trial plausibility and the need to meet the Commission’s conservation objectives. Trials have medium plausibility with respect to the stocks of the North Pacific minke whales. Simulation trials will be used to advise on variants next year and she pauses before going to bycatch.

Bruno Chair thanks the scientific committee for their excellent work.

No one comments and we move along.

Debi describes the next portion of the Scientific Committee report noting also that how to assess mortality associated with marine debris was touched on.

There are not comments and we suddenly move to special permits andKoreaasks for the floor. He thanks Dr Palka for her leadership of the scientific committee but he also sees several controversial points relating to whales in Korean waters. There is a difficulty in identifying stocks. He hopes that matters can be progressed.

Chair Bruno tries to move on butIndianotes he supports the revised management scheme and hopes that the Scientific Committee can resolve any problems. He is, however, concerned that some countries are not adhering to the revised management procedure and he asksNorwayif there are at risk of exceeding their own quota developed via their own version of the RMP?

Mexicosays that whatKoreahas said worries him greatly. He is very worried about stocks and we are looking at a second research effort that will very likely reach the same conclusions as the other research efforts.

The Chair asksNorwayif it wish to reply.

Their distinguished scientist says that they are about half way through their whaling efforts this year which have been affected by the weather. They will not exceed the quota.

TheUSAopposes lethal research. It is unnecessary for modern whale management and conservation.Koreaneeds to follow procedure P in terms of developing its proposal. Takes of minke whales in this area would be composed 100% of J stock whales.

Australiaassociates withMexicoand theUSA. There is no reason to kill whales in the name of science. All necessary data can be collected not lethally. She invites the scientists fromKoreato visit her research station inHobartto learn about non-lethal measure.

Argentinadoes not support scientists whaling and we worry about the impact – and we support theUSand others.

Chair Bruno says we now need to move to scientific permits.

Denmarksays that they do not wish to participate in this kind of discussion on scientific whaling.

Panamaassociated with other members of the BAG (Buenos Aires Groupo) as doesEcuador.Germanyis in the BAG too – or at least he agrees with them -and adds that scientific whaling could open the door to commercial whaling.Monacoregards scientific whaling as ancient and obsolete.

Bruno notes there are many more speakers on his list.

Koreasays the scientific research they plan will be discussed in more detail. TheUKnotes that special permit whaling is unnecessary and of little value and there are perfectly adequate non-lethal approaches.

The impact of whaling is being looked at by the scientific committee – we need to avoid depleting small stocks.

Japansays that the committee agrees that implementation is allowed.New Zealandsays we now seem to be in the middle of the debate on scientific whaling – he takes particular exception to whaling in the southern ocean and makes sentiments similar to that made by the Commissioner from the other side of theTasman Sea. He concludes that scientific whaling proposal fromKoreaborders on the reckless.

Switzerlandagrees that scientific whaling is bad and then says something about other members being advised not to speak… but his meaning is unclear.

St Kits andNevislikes scientific whaling – this body should promote research especially on stocks that are not endangered or threatened.

Cyprusnotes you have heard already from someUKstates and she add on the behalf of blah blah and she will come back under the ‘special item’.

Norwaysupport the right – valuable knowledge is undoubtedly collected through this scientific approach.

The Chair notes that we are speaking about scientific permits under the wrong item and that the comments will be recorded under the next one, but before he can get thereIndiatakes the floor to firmly oppose scientific whaling.

Russiado you want to take the floor under 13 or 14.Russiaseems prepared to wait.

Agenda item 14 is cracked open andRussianotes that Japanese research is interesting for the understanding of the whales and their habitats inAntarctica.

Chairman Bruno tries again to close item 13 – third time lucky.

The Commission endorses the scientific committee report on this matter and moves on. He promises again to get the comments in the right place and he looks to Executive Secretary, Simon Brockington, who smiles and nods.

Chairman Bruno notes that special permits have been issued in the North Pacific byJapansince last year.

Debi Palka now reports on the Scientific Committees discussion on special permit/Scientific whaling. She notes that the scientific committee has a process known ‘fondly’ as annex P. In between these regular reviews the committee will only receive short reviews on scientific whaling programmes – see pages 82-86 of the scientific committee report this year. She records that the lack of discussion about this does not mean accord from all the scientists in the committee.

It is time for the first six year review of JARPA II and so the committee agreed a programme to deal with this.

Chilenotes that she did not participate in the previous discussion because of confusion about the agenda item. She is not happy with how the small closed group of experts has been set up to review special permit reports. Special Permit studies are not useful to this Commission. The biggest bycatch of whales occurs inKorea– there individuals should be used for research.

Australiasays that none of the reach conducted byJapanorIcelandhas produce any results of scientific merit and this is all the more serious because of the open nature of this research. There are many substantial and generic arguments against this. The unnecessary deaths of so many whales means we need to work together on non-lethal programmes. With respect to the workshop planned to review Iceland’s lethal research program, Australia adds that the budget for this has been scaled back – there remains a proposed allocation of £24,000 – we do not see any benefit in having this funded and we propose the reallocation of this funding.

Thank you Mr Chairman saysJapan. Under article VIII we conduct scientific research and the data provided produce a huge number of scientific papers – 380 articles have been published and 170 articles in scientific journals. The science cannot be denied. Article VIII allows any party to use. This SC recognised the catch data under special permit. Some delegations emphasise said we have to return to science but the scientific committee clearly recognises the data from our researches. Accordingly our special permit is recognised.

South Africastates that science has made much progress since the treaty was founded. They do not support lethal scientific whaling and asksKoreato reconsider.

However,St Vincent and the Grenadinesthinks scientific whaling is useful and conducted within the necessary guidelines.

Brazil has difficulties with the concept of scientific whaling – there are other non-lethal methods – and associates with others of like-mind.Norwayin the form of their scientific lead has absolutely no doubt that the scientific programmes ofJapan(and he lists them all) give valuable information including on the age and health and diet – some things cannot be investigated by non lethal methods. Now we hear that,Iceland(their scientific lead also speaking), has no doubt about the usefulness of special permit whaling andIceland’s research has led to more that 150 reports and articles. He strongly disagrees with the views that scientific permits have not produced any useful research.Icelandhas been preparing for the planned review of their research andIcelandstrongly opposes any suggestions not to do this but he was not quite clear if the proposal was to abandon or delay the review.

Cyprus… says that in its statement made previously, they stated their opposition to scientific whaling and they are very concerned about Korea’s new proposal. J stock is considered endangered and catches should be avoided. There are very high levels of by catch and precaution should prevail – we are also in disagreement with the opening statement fromKoreaabout minkes eating fish stocks that should be eaten by humans instead.Mexicoassociates with the BAG and withAustralia’s comments on the budget issue [whether money should be given to an official IWC workshop-based review ofIceland’s scientific whaling]. There has been little useful science, he adds and details several serious criticisms.

TheUKcomes to the microphone next and associates withAustraliaon the financing of the review workshop. This whaling programme has finished and the money should be redistributed so the full costs of the scientific committee can be met. Chairman Bruno tells theUKwe shall consider this under the report of the Finance and Administration Committee. Monaco associates with Australia and he has heard about the number of papers but there are papers and papers and science and science! How many of them have affected our paradigms and knowledge? Together with Chile he believes that the reporting from the scientific committee should be improved with regard to sensitive issues like this. It is not enough to tell us there is not consensus – we expect this when a number of scientists are appointed with a specific position on this. We wish to hear reason based on evidence.

Chairman Bruno says please associate with others and I would like [in due course] to hear from an NGO on this point. He calls for Koreato speak but a nasty whistle occurs and then Korea booms across the room and asks what agenda item we are under. Some delegations are still speaking about scientific whaling he says. This should be discussed under the relevant item but before we have substantive discussion here are some preliminary remarks. We are under no obligation to inform you in advance of any plan. We are only under moral obligation to submit a plan. This is done in the spirit of trust, good faith and transparency. [It is getting louder and hotter in here.] Koreacontinues: We do not accept any proposition that whales should not be killed or caught. This is a forum of legal debate not moral debate. Such kind of moral preaching is not relevant or lawful.

Chairman Bruno now has severe technical problems. The list of speakers in front of him keeps changing and he proposes a lunch break, and so there is one.

Blog 8. Reckless whaling poised to begin

Report from the WDCS team at IWC 64: Wednesday afternoon.

So we are now half way through the Commission meeting and many matters of substance remain open and Korea has announced it means to start scientific whaling.

A hasty and marine debris-heavy lunch passes by all too quickly and then we are back in the big hall where we live. The Chair explains that the new microphone system has now totally broken down and that Commissioners will need to wave to gain his attention.

We return to the deadly topic of ‘special permits’ or as it is also known ‘Scientific Whaling’.

Dr Debi Palka, Chair of the Scientific Committee, tells us that no new proposals have been received.

There is a pause and then Debi explains how the Scientific Committee runs its review of the results of special permit hunts. She stresses that the process tries to make this independent and that data availability matters are defined in annex P3.

TheUSnow speaks up to support the earlier comments from some nations about not funding the Icelandic review.

Icelandsays again that they have been preparing for this review [for their ‘scientific whaling’] for a long time and they do not want it postponed or delayed, as it will disrupt the work of the Greenland {Editor:Icelandsurely – pay attention] research institute. If the Commission decides this we will have to live with it but it is not what we want he stresses.

Japansays that it has listened with interest since this morning and again wants to tell us about the huge number of peer-reviewed articles in journals. In the scientific committee we need data brought by scientific research and 100% data on this comes from special permit scientific research; we need this for age structure. Many delegates denied this important work this morning and he is disappointed at this. But he thanks Professor Walloe [ofNorway] for this support – he explained that there is data that cannot be obtained from non-lethal research. We need lethal research. In the discussion, we heard a lot of arguments and some continued to deny this – not constructive! I may say that this kind of discussion comes only from political will and not scientific evidence. This Commission, especially on Monday morning said we should work for whales based on science but in today’s discussion I could not match this.

Australiasays he originally raised his flag to speak toIcelandbut he now addressesJapan. He is one of the scientists who has spent much of the last decade in the Scientific Committee and there is a very solid scientific basis to the criticism being levelled atJapan’s research. Whilst of course some things can be measured from dead bodies, the scientific committee has not concluded any useful information from this lethal research and most of the discussion there revolves around criticism of methodology.

Australia, he adds, is critical of how the review programme works. After the taking of 200 whales a review is indeed due, but the question here is one of timing and who funds it.

The Icelandic scientist comes to the microphone again and saysIcelandcannot accept any delay. The sample size of 200 is not very big but numerous scientific projects were made on each whale. We are looking at multi-species management as well as feeding and pollution studies. If we postpone the review many involved scientists would not be available. Because of the small size of the programme it may be suggested that it could be taken during an annual meeting but this would be impossible. It needs to be held in the country of the proponents. It is clear and there should be no doubt that the costs should be paid by the IWC.

Chairman Bruno has heard enough about this but Professor Walloe wishes to speak to support Iceland. The review is already late and delayed by the financial crisis inIcelandhe tells us. The review should be carried out as prescribed but the delegate fromAustralia‘kicked it to me’ I have to say that Article 8 is not limited to science for conservation. It is true there is some debate about the value of the science being published.

The Global Guardian Trust is the next NGO to be brought to the microphone. He is based inTokyo and his organisation promotes sustainable use. Article 8 is critical to proper operation of the IWC – we have heard from the Chair of the Scientific Committee that important information has been provided to the IWC and we are disappointed at the attempts to trivialise this. Hundreds of scientific papers have been produced and peer-reviewed this adds to our knowledge. Anyone can obtain the papers on the internet. Some take the view that this information is not of interest to them but the preference of some should not subvert the preferences of others. These activities are carried out in a careful and sustainable nature. Not all research is for everyone. It is a niche-activity that focuses on some topics. There are thousands of topics. Understanding the biology of whale populations is [three minute 21 seconds] is of interest but just because I have no interest in some areas of research does not mean they are not valuable. I would ask delegates to recognise scientific permit whaling as important to sustainable use, and therefore the conservation of whales [four minutes 28 seconds – well done].

We move to the agenda item – Safety at Sea and on the Screen a slide appears labelled:

‘No longer condone the violence of the Sea Shepherd (SS) – assuming safety during demonstrations on the High Seas’.

Japannow makes claims about SS – including wounding of its scientists and the use of weapons, including ‘fire bombs’.

A video follows for a few seconds showing two boats seemingly locked together -filmed from a third which seems to be training a powerful jet of water towards them. A rigid-hulled inflatable flying the skull and cross-bones flag is shown next andJapannotes that acid bombs have been thrown and one of their seamen splashed with acid.

The issue of non-biodegradable materials to entangle propellers is mentioned. And the Japanese speaker notes that this is not just a danger to seamen but also to the Antarctic environment. [This would seem to be a reference to a new source of marine debris in the southern ocean.]

Japancontinues: Last year a resolution (2012-2) passed at the IWC by consensus called for ‘refrain from actions that intentionally imperil human life, the marine environment or property during demonstrations…’.Japandoes not think this is being abided by. The whaling controversy cannot be used to justify violence.

The scientific committee has also noted its concern about research being stopped by these violent activities and the Japanese Commissioner notes actions being taken to try to address this in other fora, including the International Maritime Organisation and that they seek the arrest of 5 persons – are there more? [Editor – are you sure that is what he said?] No – unclear, I fear I may have dropped off.

…. violent sabotage… criminal something… relevant government cooperate… continuous cooperation … illicit … legitimate….[please see reports from previous years on this topic]

The Chair now reminds us that the new microphones are broken and raises his flag to show how it should be done.

Indiastrongly endorses the safety at sea resolution from last year’s meeting and supportsJapan. They recognise the rights of an individual to express their concerns but that this should be within the rules of the land or international ones.

Full compliance with international law is required. The IMO is the relevant forum, addsAustralia and details some action that they have taken.

Antigua and Barbudais ‘totally appalled’ at what she has just seen. All nations should strong condemn the Sea Shepherd and this must include the flag state and country of port which have an additional responsibility. These types of behaviour are terrorism that must be condemned in all of its forms.

St V and G says we must do something!Japan’s activities are legitimate under the rules of an international body. The flag and port state will not take action – let us not fool ourselves. He complementsJapan.Tanzaniaidentifies itself with St V and G.

TheUSAsays human life is a top priority and we have called for responsible behaviour in the Southern Ocean.

TheNetherlandsis opposed to commercial and scientific whaling and disappointed by the actions ofJapanin the southern ocean. There are adequate non-lethal methods for research she adds. As long asJapancontinues this activity, it will prompt NGOs to protest. This matter should be referred to the IMO. TheNetherlandsdeplores the activities on the high seas and has been in discussion bilaterally withJapaninthe HagueandTokyo. TheNetherlandscommissioner is then seen on the big screen to take a big gulp of water.

New Zealandis also serious about safety at sea. He notes the incident that led to the sinking of the Ady Gill [the superfast Sea Shepherd Vessel that came to a sticky end] and that this was investigated and that blame was apportioned to the skippers of both vessels.New Zealandnotes that he (or rather his country) is not a flag state for any Sea Sheppard vessel. He notes Sea Sheppard has committed to return to the southern ocean.

And now….

St Kitts and Nevis– will he disagree withJapan? Interestingly we are now being given the Japanese translation through our headphones.

Chair Bruno calls a halt and the audio technicians fly into action. The problem is fixed.

St Kitts and Nevis now expresses his sympathy towards Japan. Sea Shepherd seems to be operating without fear or reprisals from flag or port states or the state where the organisation is registered. He is concerned that the protest is so much out of control that it is affecting our own sanctioned-research. We should all be concerned about this. The SS organisation is making ‘millions and millions of dollars’ out of this … under other circumstances actions of terrorism would be ended but this is being recognised inHollywood. We must all strongly condemn SS. One day several lives will be lost, he concludes.

Saint Luciathinks this is relevant here as well as in the IMO and she too emphasises how this is affecting the work of the scientific committee. When will we take this seriously? When someone dies?

Norwayassociates with the last speaker and the scientific committee. They note that Paul Watson [of Sea Shepherd] was recently arrested inGermanyand awaits extradition.

Korea supports protest apparently but is deeply concern about the escalation of confrontation.

And so it continues. … Until Japantakes the floor again: Japan is pleased that so many support them but is disappointed with one delegation that did not speak so clearly. He stresses that JARPA II [the ongoing Japanese lethal research programme in the Southern Ocean] is extremely valuable and sorry that the precious research could not be provided as planned…

Russia adds that Sea Shepherd is as difficult to find as Bin Laden! [Isn’t he dead and Watson in prison?]

The Dominican Republic calls on Japanto end its research in the Southern Ocean.

Australia now counters whatJapansays and that there are many other nations conducting research there.

The international transport workers association representative who is now given the microphone apparently as an NGO speaker is a gunner on the catch research boat. He supports sustainable use and opposes violence on the seas… and takes up 5 minutes and 27 seconds on this topic before he is stopped by the chair. [Should that 27 seconds now be given to a speaker on the pro-conservation side. Claire Bass car probably say something sensible in 27 seconds.]

The Chairman now announces that we have a problem as not all delegates knew how to make an intervention thanks to the failure of the microphones.Koreamissed the opportunity and he apologies that they were not recognised.

So we now have the increasingly bizarre situation ofKoreamaking a presentation on their intention to go scientific whaling when the discussion about this has already concluded.

Korea notes that conducting whaling under article 8 as describes in their opening statement is under consideration. And now he explains why – whale meat is still a dietary tradition, including inUlsan[a coastal whaling City]  and this is similar to subsistence whaling. Taking into account history and the 35 species that live around the peninsula, and that before the moratorium many species were taken. Since the moratorium entered into force, illegal whaling has been banned and strongly punished; Korean people have been asking when legal whaling can resume and they have been punished and whales have recovered and increasing amount of whales are eating fish that could be caught by fishermen. We have been doing research but there is a delay in stock work and this is a controversial issue in the committee. So, Korean government is forced to now conduct whaling for research. This programme is designed to analyse and accumulate data on the minke whales. It will provide comprehensive data including on stock-structure – it will be valuable research. We will submit research plan in due course. It has not been decided how many minke whales will be taken yet but this will in the national jurisdiction ofKorea. I hope this research [on stock structure] will be given the highest attention in the Scientific Committee.

The Chair now suggests that as we already had an extensive discussion on this earlier and determinedly heads off for coffee.

Much high level negotiating is now ongoing: in a the coffee area Monaco is surrounded by US officials and others and is no doubt negotiating the what is known here are the Monaco Proposal. Further up the corridor, someone from IFAW is interviewing someone else from IFAW. Many people from IFAW are seen to be running around.

Suddenly we are back in the Great Hall and in the world of environmental threats. Dr Debi tells us about SOCER – the state of the cetacean environment report. Then she tells us about the work of the committee on pollution and then its work on disease which now features an exciting new website.

Meanwhile a certain Commissioner can clearly be seen reading the WDCS blog. He points at something on the screen to his deputy. Will this matter be a disciplinary one? Or is it an amusing typo. This provides an opportunity for us to remind readers that the blog account of IWC 64 is not an official or verbatim account but we do strive for accuracy and welcome corrections.

Back in meetng, post dangerous coffee spills and many small snacks (thank you againPanama), theUSAis telling us about national work on disease events.Cyprusnow comes to the microphone on the behalf of blah blah – and is concerned especially about dolphins and whales and skin diseases. She notes the work of the disease group and that further work on this issue is important as well as ship strikes.

Chairman Debi notes that next year’s State of the Cetacean Environment Report (or SOCER) will focus on theAtlantic Ocean.

Switzerlandsays that human health issues became a big issue over the years.

Cypruson the behalf of (…) says something about degradation taking its toll on the marine environment and increasing threats to cetaceans. This is of increasing concern. We appreciate the work of the SC on this matter through E. The EU has submitted a draft resolution on continued research and human health. We will introduce at the proper time and hope we can get support from the plenary. We need to increase research if we are to understand the status of cetaceans. Need to see positive and negative events in the marine environment.

Indiaappreciates the role of the SC and Conservation Committee on environmental and health issues; this hould include Indian Ocean andArabian Sea. He is particularly concerned about climate change; whilst the efforts can be rational and regional the impacts are global and cannot be blamed on developing countries. Conservation measures must be financed by developed countries.

Chairman Debi is now at point 12.2.2 on page 87 of this year’s record-breakingly huge Scientific Committee report which talks about the ongoing research into the Deep Water Horizon event in theGulf of Mexico. Capacity building on oils spills was advocated by her Committee.

Debi then tells us about the workshop held ahead of the Scientific Committee here this year about MREDS – marine renewable energy developments. Apparently the workshop (which sounds fascinating) provided a review of the topics and some recommendations are summarised on various pages (and a figure) which Debi does not read out but tells us which pages to look at.

There are concerns about noise and renewable developments inChilein critical blue whale habitat, where environmental impact statements were called for.

Cyprusleaps to the microphone on the behalf of (…) and thanks the SC for its work and welcomes the report and its recommendations. Wind farms are developing rapidly and work is in place to look at interactions between them and porpoises, and a range of impacts are possible and taking into account cumulative impacts new approaches are needed to reduce noise. Collaboration between nations is also needed.

No one else comments and we move to anthropogenic sound. See 12.4 page sixty says Dr Debi. The scientific committee is keen to develop maps of noise and overlay these with cetacean habitat data. The work of the [IUCN] western gray whale advisory group on noise is also noted and also that the IMO is working on noise from commercial ships. The secretariat is taking part in this apparently. Then we are told about PCOD which is an approach to cumulative effects modelling, which we think Debi likes very much.

TheUSelaborates on its own work on noise. They have had two working groups – one on mapping to map characteristics and the other on cetacean distributions. Then theUSheld a symposium bringing all of this together – the final analyses will help to inform management in theUS.

Cyprus(…) member states – notes that, over the last century, noise levels have increased because of man-made activities and this provides problems ranging from interference with group cohesion to death. The EU supports the Scientific Committee’s work.

So doesMexicohe also likes the mapping work in theUS.Australiathinks this is incredibly useful work too (by theUS).Australiais offering acousticians to take part in intercessional work on this.

The distinguished alternate Commissioner fromArgentinalikes maps too and wants to join the intercessional group.

South Africawants in as well, and notes we are five minutes over time.

The Chair states that the Commission notes and endorses all recommendations. There is still much to do says the chair.

He adds that we will have to come to item 21 by the coffee break as there are many matters still to make decisions on. We will start with 18.1 but also open 21 – so please be prepared and don’t forget we have some items open e.g. 7.1.3.2 [still following?] –Greenlandwill have to tell us how and when they will proceed. I seeMonacoand because we are over time I hope it will be the last hand I am seeing.

Monaco: I just wanted everyone to know we have an amended resolution byMonacoand I would like it to be addressed tomorrow morning.

Chair Bruno says we will handle it tomorrow but it may be in the afternoon and he closes the session and we all run way.

The blog scribe has a short discussion with the blog editor thus:

Scribe: so what do you think happens next in the parrot romance story? What do you think happens to Fernando.

Editor: I think he gets lost.

Scribe: is that it?

Editor: yes.

[So dear reader if you are interested at all in Tales from the Pool Side continuing you need to let is know.]

Blog 9. Whaling in Korea: Some explanation

Report from the WDCS Team at IWC 64 Wednesday evening

Wednesday evening: many delegates have been drawn to the NGO’s reception – free food, free alcohol, free dancing and the opportunity to be lobbied by your favourite NGO friends: who could resist? Evidently many delegates from the whaling nations.

[Although I do think the cheese and bananas dish may have been a mistake.]

But whilst we are enjoying some pretty little cakes artfully arranged in the shape of the star-spangled banner on this July 4th, we are also reflecting on the difficult and traumatic day that we have just had.Korea’s intention to begin scientific whaling on the endangered Sea of Japan stock has come into sharp focus today – although it has been painfully difficult to follow the debate as agenda items became tangled andKoreaended up making its case after everyone else had discussed it.

For clarity and to help both our readers (and all the other NGOs and Commissioners sampling this blog) follow what this really means, it is important to appreciate that there is no way that Korea can hunt whales near its shores without killing animals from the genetically-distinct population known as the Sea of Japan stock (or J stock) and that is why such a plan is entirely unacceptable by any application of international conservation norms.

And let us also look at what exactlyKoreahas said in its opening statement released earlier this week because it may also bring some clarity:

“Historically, Korea’s whaling took place in the form of subsistence fishing for food, similar to Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW). It is reported that 35 species are living around Korean Peninsula. In the 1970s and 1980s up to the Moratorium, for example, about 1,000 minke whales were captured annually around the Korean peninsula. However, the long coastal whaling tradition for livelihood and nutritional purposes was suspended in 1986 in compliance with the IWC decision. At the time, the Korean government had to enforce the whalers to scrap all the whaling vessels completely, promising that they would be able to resume whaling upon the recovery of the resources. With this, the Ulsan community has long been waiting for the IWC to lift the ban for more than a quarter of a century. Good faith and pacta sunt servanda [agreements must be kept] constitute the two fundamental principles of international relations. …The Republic of Korea has been respecting and strictly implementing the Commission’s polices and decisions. Illegal whaling has been strictly banned and subject to strong punishment.…It has been also reported that the minke whale population in the north Pacific has recovered considerably to the level maintained before the Moratorium. As a result, fishermen in this area are consistently calling for limited whaling. This is because they are experiencing disturbances in their fishing activities due to frequent occurrences of cetaceans in their fishing grounds and an increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amount of fish stocks which should be consumed by human being. We therefore hope that this Commission will set in motion the review procedure as a matter of urgency to reinstate traditional coastal whaling for the future of the IWC.

Since 2001, the Korean government has been conducting a non-lethal sighting survey of the whale population to assess the status of the stock in Korean waters. But it has turned out that this survey alone cannot identify the different whale stocks and has delayed the proper assessment of the resources. It also cannot correctly identify the feeding habits of these animals and thus the impact of the whale population on the fisheries resources as a whole.

In order to meet Korean fishermen’s request and make up for the weak point in a non-lethal sighting survey, the Korean government is currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research in accordance with Article VIII of the Convention. The proposed scientific research program is designed to analyze and accumulate biological and ecological data on the minke whales migrating off the Korean peninsula. This research program will provide more comprehensive and detailed scientific information on the stocks and their interaction with other stocks will be more available. The Korean government is planning to submit research plan to the next Scientific Committee in due course. I hope that the research plan will be given the highest consideration at the next Scientific Committee meeting of the IWC.”

 

Blog 10. The Greenland Vote Approaches.

This is the blog from the team at IWC 64 in Panama.

Many delegates, now too tired to vocalise, raise eyebrows to each other in greeting and look to the heavens (or at least the roof of the great hall) as they proceed to their places.

UKMinister, Richard Benyon MP, is swift to his seat and quickly in consultation withUKCommissioner, Nigel Gooding, and the rest of the team. A few IWC scientists are again at their seats ahead of the political teams and enjoying the familiar landscape of the great hall where they live.

There are some early microphone problems and then Chairman Bruno opens the meeting and tells us that we will be working through today. This will include a vote on the Denmark/Greenland request [for more aboriginal whales for their popular restaurants and aboriginal peoples] and Bruno does not want to see any more hand-raising today – the special new microphone system is working again. [Actually it soon becomes apparent that it isn’t]

Monaconow takes to the floor and does not want to wait too long to have his resolution considered and encourages the assembly to move along. Chair Bruno suggests that this will be after lunch but he reminds delegates to be brief.

He then throws the microphone to Dr Debi Palka, the redoubtable chair of the Scientific Committee. She tells us about the Scientific Committee’s work on climate change. Is anyone interested? No, not this year; no comments and we move on to Ecosystems Modelling. Anyone care about this? Again, there are no comments and Debi turns the Scientific Committee report to page 83, where we look at issues in theArcticand the Committee has suggested some recommendations about an Arctic workshop that was originally focused on oily matters. Anyone interested? Can we see the alternate Commissioner for theUSreaching towards his button… Yes.

Thank you Chair, says Mr Wulf, theUSlooks forward to the workshop and will work with others to finalise the agenda for the workshop over the next few months.

Cyprus‘as usual’ on the behalf …. supports the workshop and that it should be expanded to all threats and continue to focus on Arctic species.

Next we hear: “Good morning, my name is Richard Benyon and I am theUKenvironment minster. I thank the Government and people ofPanamafor hosting this meeting and for their warm welcome and to you Chair for the smooth running of this meeting. I welcome all the efforts being made to address environmental and health concerns and for the work of the Scientific Committee to look at ways in which to address these issues.

I would like to reiterate theUK’s support for the moratorium, and our fundamental position against scientific whaling now or by countries who wish to go down that road in the future. I welcome the increasingly important work of the conservation committee and countries continuing to look for constructive ways to work together to address the increasing threats to all cetaceans.

In particular, I follow with great interest the progress made on welfare issues, including those associated with the entanglement of large whales and marine debris, and the ongoing work by the Commission in the development of whale watching worldwide.

I believe there is cause for optimism in the way we have worked together this week and hope this spirit of cooperation continues as we look at ways to reduce threats to whales.”

Cyprus… is worried about harm to ecosystem services and the toll being taken by environmental threats.

And then, quite suddenly, we find we are taking about the resolution from the EU about pollution and human and cetacean health.Australialikes the resolution but also wishes to change some language relating to non-lethal research.

St Kitts finds the resolution (which you can see on the IWC website) useful. However he heard that human lives were not an issue for the IWC yesterday when we were discussing ‘safety at sea’ and that it should be dealt with by the IMO. ‘This is hypocrisy’ and maybe we should discuss safety at sea again for this reason. He wants a ‘level playing field’.

Germany, a co-sponsor of the resolution, has no doubt that the proposal remains serious and a top priority. He requests the scientific committee to work more on the health of cetaceans.

The Chair, speaking asSwitzerland, supports the resolution. [Is this allowed?]

Norwaymoves to make some amendments that, in effect, cause the resolution to refer to the threat from some cetaceans only. The point being that the meat from only some populations is highly contaminated enough to constitute a threat to human health. Whilst countries cogitate on this, Simon Brockington, the Executive Secretary, wishes us a good morning and tell us about his interactions with the WHO – the World Health Organisation – which have been successful.

Colombia likes the resolution. New Zealand likes it too and all the amendments. Others speak in support. Palau likes all the amendments offered except that fromAustralia.Brazilindicates that the BAG is happy.

There has been some running around the room during this debate – a small NGO delegate is seen humbly approaching theUS delegation during the session but is swiftly shushed back to the seating in the wings where she belongs. A distinguished scientist is seen moving unusually fast to consult with an NGO colleague at the far end of the room. A Danish delegate cranes her neck to watch the activity.

Is this to do with the Danish proposal?

Meanwhile back to the debate:Tanzania does not like the proposal from Australia.

Chairman notes there are some proposals on the table but he is hopeful that we can reach consensus.Cyprus… agrees that we should keep this open and come back to it.

We go on to the important issue of ‘Other’ but there is no other to report and suddenly with just thirty minutes to coffee break we are back in Greenland.

The Danish delegate complains that Switzerland should speak from his flag and not the stage. Then the Acting Commissioner, Ole Samsing, reports that he has not accepted a roll-over position [i.e. the status quo of the existing quota] – there is no consensus to help him from at least two groupings at the IWC. He has tried everything that is humanly possible to achieve agreement. He will not speculate why there has been no support for a compromise and so he requests a vote.

TheUSsupports the quota and says its meets all the requirements for an aboriginal allocation.

We move to a roll call vote. All the European nations present vote no.Switzerlandabstains.Togo… electronic whistling and then ‘yes’.U Syes. The BAG counties vote no. Australiano. China– yes. Iceland shouts yes with great vehemence and Simon Brockington repeats it very calmly. Israel votes no. Monaco says no. Mongolia yes. Morroco yes. Naru yes. Netherlands No.New Zealand No.Norway yes.Oman(now with voting rights) abstains. Russian Federation– yes. South Africa abstains.

The vote is that 25 said yes; 34 no; 3 abstains. And so the request from Denmark/Greenland for an increased quota is refused.

Some countries speak to explain their vote or in effect to scold other countries that voted differently from them, and the Chairman allows this.

St Kitts and Neviswants us to know that we now need to reflect on the harsh winter season that is coming and that we are depriving the people ofGreenlandof their right to food and their right to existence – we should return and reflect in our capitals about this. We should consider what we are doing to humanity and this is a regretful day.

Icelandsuggests we are making the oceans a no-go zone.

Mexico notes a long list of problems with theGreenland proposal.

St Luciasays that as we have not given them a quota they have will have to go elsewhere.

St V and G empathises withGreenlandand their just right to food.

Indiaexplains its vote: they endorse subsistence whaling as long as there is no commercial take and they did not support increasing the quota.

Japansays that this is a very sad conclusion and for those in GL you are depriving them of very important source of food. [Their proposal was…] Very scientifically valid and those that say no, do not believe in science and we think these people have a right to subsistence living.

Palauregrets that the IWC 64 has just deprived GL of its main source of protein.

Tanzaniaadds that the proposal was science-based and economical, traditional.

Denmarksays ‘what a pity’ that they will go home and reflect on what will be done. The Danish government will decide in coordination with the Greenlandic one what to do. ‘What a pity’ he adds again, and comments that some governments have acted outside their jurisdictions.

Greenlandadds that she regrets the lack of responsibility accepted here. The IWC is having hard work to survive and for many years we have seen that the IWC cannot fulfill its obligations.

The Greenlandic delegation adds a few words but we miss them.

The Chairman now says no one can be satisfied on the outcome. No one to be blamed – it is all.

‘Point of order’ is shouted.

Ah yes says the Chairman – ‘point of order,St Kitts and Nevis, of course!’

We cannot be blamed for this says theSt Kitts and NevisCommissioner for this year, Daven Joseph, so please clarify.

The Chairman replies humbly that his English is not as sophisticated as that of the Commissioner and clarifies that he meant that we could not reach a consensus on a very important point. We should not blame for failure on one or another, it is the blame of the whole. We need to go home and reflect.

The debate is perhaps closed, although it is not entirely clear that this is the case as we head for coffee.

The British Minister sweeps majestically from the room with his aides and an entourage of small NGOs on his tail.

We now enter that part of the meeting that deals with the report from the Finance and Administration Committee, chaired by the Australian Commissioner, Donna.

Here a couple of key matters will be discussed – one being how quorum is achieved and the other whether or not the IWC which has previously met annually for 64 years should move to a two year cycle.

As scribes and others blog helpers are summoned to various meetings, we will just record the outcome of these discussions here and you don’t need to read all the interventions congratulating Donna on her leadership or the to and fro of this debate.

The quorum rule remains unchanged and it seems we will not meet next year [hurrah].

We move to the role of observers. This is always fun. We have heard from a few observers to date and the catapult has not yet been deployed.

F&A Chair, Donna explains that 30 minutes was allowed for observers in total and that the Chair was given discretion to manage this. At the private Commissioners meeting on Sunday this was agreed.

Ryan Wulf of theUSthanks Donna for her excellent work. He supports transparency and observers and notes that the process this year allowing observers to speak – as times allows and after contracting government have spoken – has gone very well. We should use this as the first step to the ultimate goal of allowing more fulsome interventions.

Brazilsays 30 minutes should be seen as a minimum. NGOs should reflect a balance of views and regional representation.

Cyrus/EU remains convinced that governance reforms have improved the Convention and they will also reinforce the spirit of partnership.

I have seenSt Kitts and Nevis, says the Chair in a slightly worried tone.

Do you wish the floor?

No I don’t, he replies profoundly.

Colombiaspeaks up for observers.Mexico, too.Franceinsists that NGOs enrich discussions.

Japansays only when time allows; need to give priority to Parties. We have exhausted discussion time over the last few days.

Monacoassociates especially with France (who was in favour of a more fulsome participation from observers). He likes civil society. He suggests 5% of time should be given to NGOs and we should be given the opportunity to take note of these interventions.

ACaribbeancountry says that there is nothing wrong with civil society making interventions. But he is concerned that sometimes ‘we hear 8-9 countries making the same interventions’. They should associate with themselves and not make repetitious and unnecessary interventions.

Eight or nine Caribbean countries now rush to agree with him [no only joking]Chilethinks civil society should be given more time.

Antigua and Barbudathinks there is a roll for civil society but cautions that these groups need to satisfy the requirements of national and international law and be properly constituted NGOs. We do not want people who are not registered anywhere to fulfil their aims or agenda here.

The distinguished alternate commissioner forArgentinalikes Donna’s work and he would like more contributions from the NGOs. InArgentinathey are very open to working within their democracy with other institutions.

St Kitts and Neviswould just like to associate withAntigua and Barbuda.

Other speakers follow. Most appreciate Donna and NGOs and then suddenly we are in a lunch break.

Blog 11

Thursday afternoon: Smalls and Resolutions and the return of Fernando.

This is the WDCS team blog from IWC 64.

Post-lunch, up on the main stage, the Chairman is seen to offer the Executive Secretary a ring. This is apparently not so much an acknowledgement of their relationship, as lost property.

The debate is somewhat fast and loose this afternoon.

We first hearMexicospeaking of an issue that is ‘sensitive to his country’: the fact thatIcelandleft the IWC and then rejoined with a reservation to the moratorium and then started to export whale meat. He is concerned and asks for more information about the trade in whale meat.

DoesIcelandwant to reply? No, butArgentinasupportsMexico.

Norwaysays whale meat trade is an issue for CITES not us and notes the reservations to the CITES ban thatIceland, his country andJapan hold, which makes international trade between them legal.

Icelandnow speaks and associates withNorway. That was exactly what he was going to say.

Indiasays we should cooperate with international bodies and the IWC should not lose sight of its prime mandate.

RussiaandJapansupportNorway, too.

We move to theMonacoresolution [as promised – just after lunch; well done Chair, exactly as you planned]. This is IWC 64/1 REV and available on the IWC website.

Monacointroduces this/his resolution and comments on the ‘limited gravity’ given to this Commission to allow compliance with its own measures for large whales. This is complicated by the taxonomic range of species dealt with here. The adequate integrative conservation of migratory species is a matter of great significance, including for many developing countries. This resolution is not about shifting the responsibility for whaling to the UN. He seeks to draw the attention of the wider community of countries to the need to adhere to the decisions of this body. Adopting such a text will cause modernity and marry with various activities under UNCLOS. The scientific and conservation agenda of the IWC is registering great progress and gaining much respect but it is all undermined by the fact that key decisions of this body are not respected by some of its own members. As long as we act as a restrictive club, the situation will not improve. So, to cut a long story short, he wants to stress that he has come here on the behalf ofMonaco to get your serious attention to this issue and seek progress forward in a consensus way, and I will stop here and would be very happy to listen to various remarks and then see how we proceed.

Indianow lists many other Multilateral Environmental Agreements. They are important andIndiasupportsMonaco.

Japannotes that much was changed in this resolution and this could almost be a new one. Rules of Procedure B means that nothing should be discussed unless it was circulated the day before. The reason for this rule is to allow countries to properly study matters. I will not invoke this rule he says mildly but we need more time to study and read this resolution.

The Chairman says that the document was distributed yesterday and in pigeon holes at 17.30.

Monacoagrees that it was available at 17.30 and you alleged there were new paragraphs but some were in fact deleted and two moved around.

Japansaid he checked for the new proposal over and over again and at 10.45pm he could not find it. But I am not opposing the chair’s rule on this he adds mildly.

Thank youJapansays Chair Bruno.

Monacocomes to the microphone again: the text was transmitted at 17.30 and it was in the pigeon holes at 18.12. It is not the fault of this delegation that a bug might have affected the website.

Chairman Bruno says that is OK butJapanis willing to allow this discussion and I thank them to be willing to discuss.

However,St Kitts and Nevisis now waving: I am a one man delegation – he states – and I have a serious concern about the lateness of this proposal. In fairness to small countries consideration should be given – it is unfair to my delegation – we just don’t have no time to go through it.

Can we continue? says Chairman Bruno.

St Kitts and Nevissays we need to hear from the Secretariat. Is this a new resolution? If it is I need to consult with my capital tonight.

And so for the first time, the Executive Secretary is asked for advice but it is the Chair that replies: so, he summarises, some members say it was modified in a substantial way and this makes it difficult to discuss, so we will hold it open through the coffee break and we will meantime move to ‘Administrative Matters’.

Monaco says that he will abide by the Chair’s wisdom but this document was made available 2 months ago and my colleague from St Kitts and Nevis has had more than enough time to digest this…. It is a trimmed down resolution. But I will wait until the coffee break.

The Chair asksSt Kitts and Nevisif this is acceptable but he is still determined to hear from the Secretariat about when the document was made available.

Simon can you answer?

Taxi?

Thank you Chair, says Mr Brockington with conviction – the revision was received at 17.30 – the date stamp is the secretariat’s on this document and the pigeon holes were filled [with it] between 18.00 and 18.12. It went to the website at 18.20. The time stamp on the website is correct.

Norwaysaid that they could not get it off the website either until after midnight. [Incidentally, the scribe agrees.]

St Kitts and Nevis accepts the explanation and Mr Chair I would have to discuss with my authorities this evening so please give us until tomorrow as I really really really need to consult.

So this is quite difficult says the Chair – can we look at it tomorrow morning first time. Ok saysMonaco.

The resolution text can now certainly be seen on the website, including all amendments. The most important part – the operative part – says simply this:

NOW therefore the Commission: 7. Calls the attention of the international community to the circumstance that significant unregulated catches of highly migratory species of cetaceans continue to take place, including within the IWC Southern Ocean Sanctuary; 8. Invites Contracting Parties to consider this issue in collaboration with the United Nations General Assembly, with a view to contributing to the conservation efforts of the IWC.

The full text is here: http://iwcoffice.org/_documents/commission/IWC64docs/64-11Rev1.pdf

A silver ring with a black stone is now advertised by the Chair and people are encouraged to claim it.

Everyone Loves Dave.

We try to move on to Administrative matters. All the administrative issues discussed are now enshrined in a draft resolution that will agree the changes discussed so far – such as the move to biannual meetings. But countries are now concerned that the process relating to this is not in order and the small working group looking at it has not been properly consulted.

Nonetheless Donna of Australia, Chair of the Finance and Administrative Committee, continues with her report. There is a mention of the famous and fabulous Dave Mattila and good work ongoing and the hope to extend him. TheUSis working on this.

Mexicofinds David Mattila excellent too and encourages theUSto extend him.Argentinaappreciates his work too. (Let us hope he is extended soon.)

We edge towards a coffee break which proves to be very long. Church bells are ringing outside. This may be in celebration of the fact that there has been no tropical deluge today.

Post various coffee-spills, Executive Secretary Simon notes that the document on the draft changes to procedure [including biannual meetings] is being printed at the moment and already on the website – the link works and it will be in the pigeon holes shortly. The Health Effects Resolution – complete with changes from the debate yesterday – is also out. The final document we are waiting for is the one which speaks to assisting developing countries which is being written by a number of developing countries. We will see it soon.

Donna now tells us about ‘cost saving methods’ – including a more web-based and paper-free approach. Cyprus/EU wants us to be more efficient and theUKechoes this and, on the basis that we shall be moving to biennial meetings – this is an opportunity time to make sure our processes are fit for purpose and theUKCommissioner is keen to join any group.

We now leap back to agenda 18 and the resolution fromGermanyand other members of the EU. Some amendments have been proposed and now says Chair Bruno Germany orCypruswill tell us something.CyprussaysGermanywill speak. He does and notes some changes.

There will be an NGO speaker we are told and the secretariat sets off to find the NGO catapult.

MexicoandAustraliawant some words that have been struck out to be retained. The words say ‘and take steps as necessary to counter such negative effects’ – they both say they will not block consensus but they would like these words if possible.

Japansays we were trying to find some consensus on this document but we cannot make consensus on this. He asks for the new line that now reads ‘Recalling also that resolution 2003-2 urges Governments to limit scientific research to non-lethal methods only’ to be removed.

TheUSsupports consensus. They do not object to the return of the words as requested now byMexicoandAustralia.

St Kitts and Nevishave some concerns with this document and these relate to the relationship with the WHO. In the preamble we note information exchange with the WHO but in the operative paragraph we ask for cooperation which is different and he recommends a change to address this. We should limit this to ‘increased exchange of information’.

Chairman Bruno says carefully that we are close to agreement and I will askGermanyto speak.

Germanysays that he cannot speak for all EU states that are members of the IWC but I think we are close, we will consider the other amendments and we will come back to this tomorrow.

An NGO is rolled out to speak on this item. It is redoubtable Sandra Altherr of ProWildlife, one of the sponsors of the marine debris workshop.

She very clearly tells us about health concerns that relate to pollution, including diabetes in the Faroe Islands and health concerns inGreenlandalso arising from eating contaminated whale meat [2 mins, 31 seconds]. She outlines many scientific papers [3 mins, 29 seconds] and finishes on time.

Many EU delegates are now moving around the room.

This is the last NGO on the list of speakers and Chairman Bruno now asks to meet with them all again when we break. Are they in trouble?

Suddenly we are back with the Scientific Committee report and that section that deals with ‘small cetaceans’.

The committee looked at beaked whales in the North Pacific this year – reviewing their status – and we are directed to page 72 and impacts on stranded whales are noted and that whales should be sampled for gas. It is noted that since military exercises were ended around the Canaries, there have been no atypical mass strandings there, and the Committee recommends that loud noise is kept out of beaked whale habitats.

Beaked whale are also noted as especially vulnerable to Dave Matilla [Editor: no especially vulnerable to MARINE DEBRIS; first and last warning blog scribe].

Any comments on beaked whales? asks the Chair.

Chinawould like to introduce some information about beaked whales – no he seems to be speaking about theYangtze Riverdolphin [this is the right agenda item but a little early]. They have taken some baby dolphins into captivity and hoped to protect them.

Thank youChinafor this information.

Peruhas had a die-off on its coasts but does not think human activities including seismic activities are to blame. Most animals come from one species although four species are stranding. They do not know the exact cause but suspect a biotoxin from algae blooms.

Ok, says Chairman Bruno but, in fact, we are still talking about beaked whales.

Chairman Debi moves on to the voluntary fund for small cetaceans and thanks counties and organisations. She now talks about the ongoing decline of the vaquita, despite the efforts by the Mexican government to reduce bycatch.

Debi and her committee are extremely concerned and the only reliable way to save the species is to remove entangling gear from theGulf of California. She wisely pauses.

TheUSis also concerned and then the distinguished alternate commissioner forAustriatakes the floor:

Mr. Chairman, in a follow-up to the EU opening statement,Austriahas always taken a keen interest in the core responsibility of the IWC, namely to protect whale and dolphin populations and species from extinction. We have had one worst case scenario very recently, the extinction of the baiji inChina. My fellow commissioners, we are on the brink of another worst case scenario, this time it is the vaquita inMexico.

When a bridge collapses, someone takes responsibility. When a bank or a corporation goes under, there is shame and someone takes responsibility.

Fellow delegates, how much greater must the responsibility and shame be when a highly evolved mammal species is lost forever? We are approaching that point once again. The SC has been telling us this for some time now, in the strongest language they have at their disposal. Frankly, it’s time for diplomatic niceties and step-wise strategies to take a back seat to immediate, concrete action with no compromise. We must do this for the sake of these cetaceans, and we must do it for the credibility of the IWC – we fear our organization is about to be shamed. We are already in the dock of the court of world opinion, of civil society, and under the eternal judgment of future generations on this issue, the verdict will not be pleasant if we fail.

We therefore call upon the Commission, the secretariat, the range state and NGOs to bundle and boost their efforts on the vaquita to an entirely new, higher level of urgency and resoluteness.

How much greater must the shame be when a highly evolved species goes extinct? We must do this for the sake of this species. Our organisation must not be shamed and we will be in the court of eternal judgement – we all on the Commission the Secretariat and NGOs to bundle and save the species.

Cyprus… notes that the vaquita and the maui dolphin are both endangered by entanglement. They congratulateMexicoon their work and support the call from the scientific committee to remove all gill nets from the habitat. They askNew Zealandwhat steps they will take onMaui’s dolphin.

The Chairman suggests we are still on vaquita.

Chilesupports others in this, as doesPanama.Indianotes the report on small cetacean projects that have been funded and that they are important.

Switzerlandcongratulates the small cetacean group on its work and calls on all relevant governments to act to protect them. Others make similar sentiments.

Lorenzo of Mexico appreciates the comments from everyone and lists some of the actions ongoing in his country. The vaquita recovery programme is a comprehensive one. He agrees withAustria.

Debi now moves on and notes growing concern about bycatch of porpoises in the Belt Area between theNorth Seaand Baltic. (We are on page 76.) The inner Baltic has a critically endangered porpoise population.

The franciscana section of the report is noted. We then hear some more about river dolphins including some recommendations about the boto which is used as bait in the region andBraziltakes the floor to say that they will act on these recommendations.Colombiawill also step up its actions – especially with respect to directed takes. This is a cross-border activity she adds.

Swedennow seeks some clarification: did the Chinese delegate who seems to say that theYangtze riverdolphin still numbers one thousand. [They later clarify that they were speaking about finless porpoise, not the baiji or white dolphin]

Chileis concerned that there is confusion about what the small cetacean sub-committee is able to recommend.

New Zealanddetails the work that they are doing to protect their dolphins including extension of the protected area.

Lorenzo thanksCaterina Fortunafor her excellent chairing of the ‘small cetaceans’ group.

We wonder into a discussion about something called SORP.[Is this perhaps something Dave Matilla is working on – anyone know?].

No. This seems to be the Southern Ocean Research Programme as lead byAustraliaandNew Zealand,Mexico,FranceandArgentinaare very supportive of it.Monacolikes the synergies of countries here and hopes it is open for further partnerships.

We are now on ‘other issues’ in the Scientific Committee report.

Debi tells us about some other stuff related to DNA registers and using a new format. Something called TOSSM is mentioned.

She tells us a little about a discussion about whether or not the Scientific Committee means of operation are sufficient, including for example how its conveners and other officers function. Further to a review, the committee agreed all is fine as detailed in the famous Scientific Committee hand book (available on the web)

We then review the Scientific Committee’s publications and Debi gives a big thank you to Donovan and his crew for their work.

Finally – before Dr Debi collapses at the end of her report – she notes that a new vice chair of the Scientific Committee was appointed,Caterina Fortuna(ofItaly) and the existing Vice Chair will now step up. Debi says she has enjoyed working with many fine and enthusiastic scientists.

Dr Doug DeMaster says running the scientific committee is like herding cats, arguing with mules and listening to intellectual angels [we suspect that this statement wins him a game of ‘IWC Bingo’] – and adds kindly that we thank Dr Palka for her work and commitment.

Thank you everyone, says Debi.

Nick Gales ofAustraliaadds his voice and that of his country to that of DeMaster – this is a difficult job, the scientific committee is full of difficult people he adds.

Chair Bruno also congratulates Debi, too, and thanks her on the behalf of the entire commission.

Bruno notes that we do not yet have a revised paper from the EU on their resolution – but will you allow this? Alarms squeal outside.

Germanysays that he will read out slowly the changes and they do and everyone is happy with them.

So the resolution about pollution and health is suddenly passed by consensus.

Bruno tells us that tomorrow we will start withMonaco.

Monacois pleased to inform the meeting that a slight revisions that covers some ‘light typos’ and the deletion of a few words and at 16.40 it was placed on the website – there is no bug!

‘Hi’ says Simon Brockington the Executive Secretary of the IWC brightly, just so everyone is clear on documents,Monacois up! The draft changes to the administrative document are also up and a new document from a range of countries has just appeared – a resolution for a fund of governments of limited funds.Japanhas also submitted a proposal to seek options to resolve issues related to small type coastal whaling.

And so we end another day here in the big hall – where we live.

 

Tales from the Pool Side: part two.

By vast popular demand, we return to the story of Fernando the love-sick parakeet.

Young Eleeto, the parakeet who is the rival to Fernando for the leadership of the tovi flock has learnt Fernando’s secret. He had noticed the occasional absences of his leader and quietly (which was difficult for a bird that is by its inherent nature very noisy) followed him up over the long roof of the El Panama convention centre. From a vantage point on the veranda of a pool-side room, he watches as his rival offers a portion of a mango to a small dull bird. The small dull bird is not just indifferent to his attention but actually positively shocked by it.

Inspired and empowered by this information, Eleeto returned to the flock and looses no time in informing them that Fernando has lost his mind. By the time a frustrated Fernando returns to the roost in the upper stories of the huge pink Wyndham Hotel (and casino), the whole flock knows of his ‘perversion’ and are incensed by lack of judgement.

He has no sooner landed, when they begin to chide him.

– ‘Fernando loves a little brown chica’, one cries;

– ‘Are we not good enough for you?’ calls one of his ex-girl friends, striking a vaguely provocative pose.

– ‘Traitor!’

 – ‘What’s wrong with your own kind!’

 – ‘Little brown-bird lover!’

And so on.

And the shrieking and general carrying on continues until a desolate Fernando flies away. Eleeto, if his beak allowed, would have smiled to himself at this but instead he just moves into the centre of the flock and proudly preens himself..

Shunned by the flock he grew up with, Fernando, the sad tovi parakeet, returns to the pool side where he can at least be near the object of his obsession, the indifferent variable seed-eater.

But then calamity strikes!

Perhaps momentarily blinded by his own passions or tears [Editor: can parrots cry] he makes a misjudgement, crash-lands by the pool into the handbag of a sunbathing IWC delegate. Fernando emerges in a panic wrapped in a ball of wool. The more he struggles, the more he becomes entangled and when he tries to fly, the wool binds some of his flight feathers and after a couple of wing beats, he drops like a stone into the waters of the swimming pool….

 

Blog 12“If you start unilaterally whaling you have to pay for it.”

This is the blog of the WDCS team from IWC 64.

So one more time: it is raining; the tovis are shrieking at each other; the long-tailed grackles are foraging in the detritus; taxi drivers shout ‘taxi’ at us; and the vendors are happily vending as we skip by towards the El Panama Convention Centre. In through security, into the outer hall, past the coffee and small snacks stations, past the pigeon holes (nothing in them) and finally out into the great meeting hall. Here we find AWI and WDCS quietly consulting and also a small number of IWC scientists who have been here for a month propped up in their seats. I wonder if they will try to come in again tomorrow. If they do it will not work, because this is the very last day of IWC 64.

Outside the thunder roars and a delegate from Greenpeace flanks the distinguished commissioner forMonaco, Frederick Briand, as he enters the hall.

After some kafuffle and a brief microphone failure, Dr Briand is asking for a substantive discussion about his resolution. He suggests the need for substantive intercourse with the United Nations. He then explains that he seeks consensus on his proposal and he clarifies this to mean the greatest number of countries possible voting for it.

New Zealandthanks Monacofor taking the various amendments on board and noted that he previously had various concerns and did not want to bring the troubles of the IWC to the UN. He agrees that it would be best that the resolution should agreed be with the broadest possible support.

Cyprus [and we have to apologise here as this intervention was very difficult to hear] thanks Monaco for the resolution which stresses the need to improve the IWC and calls for an end to scientific whaling in sanctuaries; also highlights the numbers of species of whale that are found in waters including the high seas and others, the IWC is the appropriate forum for this. For the EU nations she joins the call for the best consensus. [We will seek to clarify this intervention].

PanamacongratulatesMonacoand also likes consensus.Ecuadorsupports the proposal for strengthening cooperation with the UN – and consensus.

[There is a dangerous drinks spill in the middle of theUKdelegation this morning.]

Others follow similarly. Those that speak favourably use words like – thanks – synergy – United Nations – collaboration – need to show IWC is strong – admiration for the flexibility of Monaco – and so forth.

However, not everyone is so positive.

Norwayshares the concerns expressed byNew Zealandabout brining our problems to the UN.Norwayopposed the text previously brought to the UN and several other countries shared his position, he adds. He cannot accept this renewed attempt to bring this to the UN General assembly but also likes consensus.

Icelandsays that small cetaceans are dealt with by NAMMCO in their case. In this resolution we are asked to regret and show deep concern – this draft resolution is not an honest one and it cannot be so from our side – and he associates withNorway.

Japanthanks the Chairman for allowing them another day to consider this resolution. During last night his delegation looked at the issue of consensus …but the resolution would divide our forum because of its unbalanced content. He then moves through a long list of technical and legal problems with the resolution. The gist of these is that he finds the focus on the high seas inappropriate, the species breadth inappropriate; the legal foundation of the resolution inappropriate; the fact that the IWC would be giving up its legal mandate inappropriate and so forth. It is quite difficult concludes the Japanese commissioner to agree to consensus.

[And here we pause to extend good wishes to Elizabeth and her biodiversity work and we would like to reassure her that her sister is fit and well and performing well from deep in the relevant delegation – which we will not name for reasons.

Any other requests from readers – we note a strong request from the DM team at WDCS to continue the story of Fernando.]

So where were we?

TheUSlikes the resolution however.

Chinaappreciates the efforts made byMonacobut her delegation associates withNorway,JapanandIceland– the IWC is the appropriate forum. She notes the huge workload in front of the UN General Assembly and that we should not go there hastily with the whaling issue. They are sorry but they will not join the consensus.

Antigua and Barbuda claims she is an advocate of consensus building… however Mr Chair as I sat here over the last four days I have came to the same conclusion I have before about the dysfunctionality here – exemplified by the failure to support Greenland yesterday and I agree with New Zealand that we should not take our dirty linen to the UN. I know the language had been refined somewhat but I therefore associate withNorway,IcelandandJapan.

Others speak using similar language and associate with the whaling nations and also rather confusinglyNew Zealand.

After a few more interventions, Dr Briand of Monacoreplies again. He says most UN countries share our concerns about highly migratory species. There we are not interested in stocks and takes, but in conservation and this is the interpretation of UNCLOS. Suggestions have been made that this resolution is dishonest or ridiculous and there is an inappropriate focus on article 64 of UNCLOS (which deals with fishing). But Artcle 64 is followed by article 65, he adds definitively, and emphasises that this calls for more protection for marine mammals.

You don’t fish whales he adds, you kill them! You kill them with grenades; fast vessels; harpoons! There is much unfinished business on our agenda. There is too at UNCLOS. We don’t know how to handle the other cetaceans. There are many of them. Do we wish to handle the unfinished business of this body about all theses species, should we develop management plans for them? He also refers to the agreement on straddling fish stocks.

The main concern and objective of the Monaco Resolution adds Dr Briand is to build bridges into what is going on inNew York. We need to move very swiftly into the future – we cannot ignore other processes and I am pleased for all that spoke up for consensus. IWC wishes to work together with the UN and note in our remote club.

Monacothen starts to answer the specific points fromJapanbut is interrupted by the Chair and asks how he wished to proceed.

Monacosays I have to finish my intervention – I don’t plan to keep the floor for hours and hours but I need to report back and reply. We have unlimited scientific takes here – this cannot go on. InNew Yorkit was suggested that the opinion was expressed that we should limit whaling to here but that opinion only came from three nations. I propose we come back to this after coffee.

Ok says Chairman Bruno and lets us know there are yet more NGO interventions to look forward to, as they did not use up all their time yet at this meeting!

In the meantime, we return to the issue of the budget andAustraliadoes not want to fund the Icelandic workshop to review their scientific hunt. Nor does theUS.

Icelandregrets that this has come up again.

TheUKCommissioner, the redoubtable Nigel Gooding, thinks that priority should be given to the other projects and sees no pressing need for the current work at this time.

Mexicoagrees – “if you start unilaterally whaling you have to pay for it”.

A coffee break occurs. Some soft fruit falls to the floor and creates skidding issues but no lethal takes occur.

Back in the hallJapanis now telling us how they wish to proceed with their proposal for Small Type Coastal Whaling. They will not put it to the vote.Japanprefers consensus voting to hindering constructive dialogue and it is counter-productive to ask for voting. Instead their commissioner says that we will have an ad hoc small group to work on this and seek to resolve issues on small type coastal whaling byJapan. This is inline with IWC Resolution 2004/2 adopted by consensus. This resolution affirms the commission’s commitment to work expeditiously to end the hardship of whaling communities inJapanand encourages IWC members to work collaboratively on this. He asks for the cooperation of the secretariat and, as this is a small working group, he would like just six members.

This document, saysAustralia, did not meet the 100-day rule for consideration here and we cannot support consensus. Commissioner Donna is however pleased thatJapanwill not put small type whaling to the vote.

St Kitts and Nevis says that many here have been ‘tolerant’ to issues concerning conservation, and quite rightly so, but with respect to issues that affect us this is not the case and he supports Japan’s request on this matter [a small working group on small type coastal whaling] to be agreed here.Japanshould be allowed to keep this on the table and agree whatever kind of resolution they want to.

EcuadorsupportsAustralia.

Cyprushas the same understanding asAustraliaabout the 100 days rule. [That presumably mean the whole EU thinks the same.]

The Chairman proposes to keep the item open.

Japanspeaks to the procedural issue and says that their document is neither a resolution nor a schedule amendment. They believe in pursuing constructive dialogue and hence we seek consensus on this proposal. I see there is none and so we will not try to continue the discussion in this commission. I have some supplementary comments on Small Type CW – we respect sustainable use and dietary customs. We have supported every single aboriginal quota made this year but some countries opposed us yesterday on unreasonable ground, this is unfortunate as [our whaling] shares characteristics with aboriginal subsistence whaling and shows we are dysfunctional there. [He continues for some time – see the commentary in the previous WDCS blogs over the last 20 years or so on this matter]. Finally he asks that his statement be included in the meeting.

Chair Bruno asks if we can now consider the Scientific Committee budget.

Australiacomments that with respect to the £24,000 for theIcelandreview we propose to allow it go forward but in future it should be noted that we expect reviews to be funded by the countries who unilaterally commit to scientific whaling.

Icelandsays that they note the proposal that the countries conducting the research should pay. There is no upper limit to such costs – so it is illogical that these costs should be paid by the country. This matter cannot be replaced here. He is glad thatAustraliahas ‘come to its senses’ on this.

Japandoes not agree withAustralia’s view but is pleased the budget is agreed.

TheUSagrees that we can accept this spending plan and that this matter should be looked at by the Finance and Administration Commitete.

TheUKsupportsAustraliatoo.

So to summarise – no vote on small type coastal whaling; no small working group to look at small type coastal whaling; the review of Icelandic scientific whaling will be paid for this year but this matter will be looked at in the future.

ThenMonacocomes to the microphone again– do we want to keep the ball in the IWC by adding about 40 missing [small cetacean] species to the IWC schedule? We have not revisited this list of species dealt with by the IWC since 1977.

St Kitts and Nevissaid that he stayed out of the debate earlier. This issue should be withdrawn, it is ‘frivolous’ and we do not have time for this.

New Zealandsays his is not frivolous and the comments fromJapan,NorwayandIcelandshow we have a serious problem and my earlier remarks were misinterpreted. I indicated initial concerns now dealt with in the revised draft.

Monacosays let us keep the spirit of building dynamics on our side. I heard call for us to improve how we deal with small cetaceans. We see difficulties in gaps dealing with small cetaceans and also how we deal with animals sometimes on the high seas and sometimes in national jurisdictions.

Monaconow says that he will build an intercessional task force on this to further explore synergies with the UN on matters that are going on there anyway and he will invite interested parties to identify themselves now before I take a plane home. I will not ask for a vote on this resolution.

So, says Bruno, hopefully we can move on – no saysMonacoI need to know who can join.

St Kitts – we just had a proposal for a working group shut down, please Mr Chair, we cannot now decide on another one!

Yes, agrees the Chairman, please tellMonacoin the lunch break if you would like to work with this non-official group.

ButMonacocomes back to say that this is a permanent agenda item – ‘association with other organisations’. We cannot dismiss this frivolously in 27 seconds. We cannot be told now that in the order of saving time we cannot look at this again for two years. Yesterday we did not raise a point of order. I do not want to keep the floor for a number of hours but indeed I heard and recorded that a number of countries are interested in this. I use this floor as an IWC Commissioner with an interest and knowledge. This is an initiative of one member party of IWC – thank you chair.

Thank youMonacosays Bruno and we close the agenda item about the Monaco Resolution.

Administration of the IWC – when will we meet again.

The temperature is dropping now in the room and delegates are starting to drift away. Only the two rows of large pot plants stationed at either end of the great hall remain fully engaged.

We move back to the administrative arrangements for the IWC. The Commission will meet biannually, other committees likewise, but not the scientific committee which will meet each year. The new bureau of four commissioners will meet during the years when the Commission does not meet [and will be a closed meeting].

South Africaasks for clarification on how the four commissioners are chosen and asks for appropriate regional representation.

Chileasks if the Conservation Committee will meet annually or not. It seems they will meet ‘as required’. All of these subsidiary committees (apart from the Scientific Committee) will be treated equally.

Some small amendments are offered and thenMonacois invited to the microphone andSt Kitts and Nevisstarts to speak beforeMonacoroars over the top of his and makes his amendments.

St Kitts and Nevissays mildly is this the time for me to make suggestions on the suggestions made?

Well says the Chairman mildly we seem to have the document in front of us, so this would seem to be the right time. If we encounter major changes we may have to break.

St Kitts and Nevislikes a small bureau and that the 4 commissioners should reflect a regional balance but also that we could have another commissioner and this would create more balance. He suggests that the representation needs to include an African country and hence he calls for a fifth member. He adds that when we go to a biannual meeting, the priority to pay annually will diminish. The reality will be that people will prefer to pay biannually and he calls for a change that means fees could be paid biannually.

He also calls for some changes to the payment rate. He is worried about paying 2% above the base-rate.

Martin of Switzerland [one of the IWC’s financial experts] says that the consequences of the request fromSt Kitts and Neviswould be huge. He does not support the amendment or the 24 month payment period and the smooth running of the Secretariat could be affected.

The debates goes on and we will not detail it all here – not because it is not important but because it is going to be moved into a lunch time drafting group and we need to work out if we can rescue Fernando. Stay tuned.

After a while some NGO interventions break out briefly. The stop watch is started and the NGO catapult primed.

LaPointe of GGT [previously denied the microphone a couple of days ago] is not happy about quite a lot of things and tells us about them in 3 minutes and 26 seconds – well done!

Samantha Dawes of Campaign Whale then comes to the microphone. In a moving intervention she tells us that small cetaceans include some of the most endangered species such as the vaquita andMaui’s dolphin and she notes there are many strong recommendations from the Scientific Committee at IWC 64 about how to help them. Several NGOs and countries contributed to the small cetaceans fund last year and she thanks them notes further donations to support the work of the small cetacean sub committee: £11,000 on behalf of Campaign Whale, CSI, HSI, IFAW NaturaFund, Whale Man, OceanCare, RSPA and WWF International [and at 2 minutes and 14 seconds she finishes – nicely done Sam]

Three minutes left says Chairman Bruno. Another NGO is allowed to access a microphone and hopes that the good NGO interventions made here show we can behave. He encourages countries to keep going on the Southern Ocean sanctuary and is cut off at 5mins and six seconds… no he keeps going and thanks the host country.

And we go to lunch. Or in fact we stay in the big hall where we live and write the blog.

Blog 13. Last Few Hours of Whaling Commission Meeting – blow by blow

Final Report from the IWC Team at WDCS 64

Things get a little messy but much applause follows as we draw to a close.

After lunch, a few amendments are noted to the administrative document which will define how the IWC will function in the future. There is some discussion about the four commissioners who will form the Bureau and who will represent a range of views and interests.

In fact, in total, the Chair Bruno, clarifies, the Bureau will be comprised of the Chair of the Commission, the Vice Chair of the Commission, and four commissioners representing a ‘range of views and interests’. Commissioners will be appointed to the Bureau for a period of 2 year at each biennial meeting of the Commission. In addition the Commissioner who will be hosting the next meeting will also attend the Bureau meetings in an ex-officio capacity.

Bruno calls on the congregation to agree the document butGhanawants the concept of regional representation included.

South Africasays we need to define ‘regional’.

Chairman Bruno says that what we have in front of us is the most important decision that we have had to make for ‘many many years’. If we cannot conclude this we will need to meet again next year. We made great progress here and I wish us to have a positive outcome, so I will leave 5 minutes for talks and then come back to this.

ButSt Luciajumps up to speak and she notes that some commissioners may have missed some changes in the document. And the changes are read for, in fact, a third time by Donna. Then we have a short break… no, in fact, it is a long break and many people are now roving the halls taking pictures of each other and the various impromptu co ordinations breaking out all over the Great Meeting Hall. Is that the EU over there in the corner coordinating?

The Groupo Buenos Aires meets in a different part of the room. They burst into applause (will we ever known why?). Meanwhile, St Kitts and Nevisis is surrounded by some other delegates including the distinguished UK lawyer, Jolyon Thompson, who seems to be counting out options on his fingers.Japanis represented in this group too, along with Commissioners from other countries.

After much movement around the floor, Chair Bruno clarifies again that there are seven people in this Bureau.

Many delegates start to leave and many other delegates are still busy photographing each other

Can we adopt this packages of measures now enquires the Chairman hopefully?St Kitts and Nevisraises his flag. Are we adopting the whole document or just the changes to the Bureau, he asks.

St Kitts and Nevissays when the Chair of Finance and Administration read out the changes she read a version that ‘I accepted’ and he details payment issues, as he sees them. He particularly does not like the portion that reads ‘2% above the base-rate quoted by the Commission’s bankers on the day’. His government cannot accept this vagueness. He has asked many questions about this … and he makes a lengthy intervention but at this point the blog scribe drops some cream from a particularly nice choux pasty onto this keyboard and has to try to clean it up – which is distracting.

European nations are now glancing at each other and at the Commission officials mixed in with the NGO ranks on the south side of the hall.

I see your point says Chairman Bruno but time is moving on and we need to take a decision. Can we make a decision?

But St Kitts and Nevisis seeking the sympathies of all here, this is all. He agrees with all the other aspects of the proposal.

Australiasays that the 2% is the existing rule, we are not asking for anything new.

Panamasays let us arrive at a consensus – the BAG agrees with the text.

GhanaorGuineasays he agrees withSt Kitts and Nevis.

New Zealandhas been moved to intervene because he cannot see why we would use a different rule here. This has not been put to us before today and should not be used as leverage here.

GuineaorGhana(apologies – cream problem ongoing] then speaks of the constraints that affect countries.

After a little while, some more coordination’s and much photography, the Chair suggests that we may have to vote.

Cyprussays that the unpredictably here is based on people not paying on time

Thanks says the Chair and asks Simon to go for a vote

Point of clarification shouts Switzerlandand then apologises for interrupting the vote – is this a vote on the whole document or only the point of St Kitts and Nevis.

St Kitts and Nevisadds that this is not in keeping with our procedure – an amendment is proposed as I read out.

Simon Brockington, the Executive Secretary now clearly and carefully clarifies the amendment fromSt Kitts and Nevis.

[Can the EU come to a position on this in time?]

Yes. The EU block mainly opposes the amendment, so does theUSand the BAG.Antigua and Barbudais not participating.Icelandopposes.Italyis not participating.Japansupports. There is a nice clear no from the distinguished delegate forLuxembourg. Most developing nations vote yes.St Vincent and the Grenadinesis apparently not participating.

There are 15 yes votes, 41 oppose, 2 abstentions and 4 absent/not participating.St Kitts and Nevis’s amendment fails.

We move to a vote on the main document,

But Point of Order is called again. We can accept this as a consensus says the alternate commissioner forSwitzerlandwho is obviously on something of a roll.

ButSt Kitts and Nevisnow makes another speech which includes a comment made to him in a break by a rich country: ‘if you cannot afford to be here you should leave’. For the record we feel disadvantaged, he notes, and we have been taken advantage of. He has a dismal view on the future of this organisation and we all need to wake up. There is a lot of discrimination here.

Thank you says the Chair. St Vincent and the Grenadines (now back in the room identifies with St Kitts and Nevis and speaks of disparity between the weak and the poor) At this point I am sorry to have to admit that the blog scribe wonders from the room to get coffee and another choux pasty and returns to find that the whole Finance and Administration bundle has been passed, despite the protests and so – for the first time in 64 years, the IWC will not meet next year and, instead a Bureau, has been established to manage its business.

Another break breaks out and there are many more very nice little cream cakes. In fact it is worth pausing here and celebrating the fact thatPanamahas been feeding some of us since even before the Scientific Committee began, many weeks ago.

Donna now tells us more about financial matters and how much money we are lacking in unpaid country fees. But it seems that the Commission will be OK, because we are putting up the NGO yet fees again. There is some vague grumbling in the NGO ranks but no one hears them as there is no microphone any where near them.

The funding for the Conservation Management Plans for various species is noted byMexicoand he also thanks those who have donated to the small cetacean fund.

We move on to a proposal from a number of small developing countries for the funding of small developing countries. It is introduced bySt Luciaand supported by many other small developing nations andJapanandKorea,

Cypruson the behalf of the remaining countries of the EU suggests some fundamental amendments.Russiadoes too.

After a while,St Vincent and the Grenadinestells us that the resolution will not be agreed by consensus and quietly removes it.

Finally, we come to the report of the group that has been looking at strengthening conservation funding at the IWC – led by theUKand in particular the alternateUKCommissioner Nicola Clarke. The work of the group is proposed to continue. The floor is open for comment.

There is a tangible pause. Some static and tropical tumble weed pass through. There are sirens outside and then we move on and this important initiative is allowed to continue.

Donna agrees to continue as the Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee and this is welcomed by warm applause.

Are there any nominations to be Chair or Vice Chair of the Commission?St Luciais proposed and there is applause and it is so agreed.

Janine Compton-Antoine of St Luciathat says this is ‘an historic day, I am I think the first woman Chair’. There is more applause.

Are there proposals for the Vice Chair? Fredrick of Belgium is nominated byCyprusand he thanks us for the honour and he apologies for being 52 and not a woman and he mentions his predecessor, who we miss. Some applause follows.

We move to trying to identify members of the new Bureau.

TheUSwishes to join, so doesPanama.GhanaandJapanalso wave and thereby join the team.

We move to consider where all the meetings over the next two year may occur.

Firstly, who would like to host the Scientific Committee next year. SouthKoreaoffers and there is applause. Anyone want it the year after? – Apparently not.

Simon Brockington, the sprightly Executive Secretary, tells us he has been putting up press releases at the end of each day and he will file a full report of the meeting shortly. [So why are we bothering with all this blogging – perhaps it is to inform Simon’s press releases.].

As we move to the end. Thanks are given by theUSto the last Chair, Herman, and the current Chair, Bruno, for great leadership and allowing us to make good progress. Very warm applause follows.Russiaassociates with theUSand appreciatesPanamafor their excellent hosting and cuisine. He appreciates having a lady as the next chair. We have many difficulties here he adds cheerily– due to the fact that men are always ready to attack, whereas women keep the peace at home and he hopes to be in the good hands of a woman who will keep the peace and lead us to a peaceful future. Regretfully, he adds, I don’t have a song today and there is gentle laughter. And a pause. [The Russian Commissioner is famous for his singing skills and once serenades the previous Executive Secretary.]

Chairman Bruno now makes his closing comments. The only problem here was that there were too many nice little things to eat and this spoilt our punctuality. Then he thanks the audio technicians and the Secretariat. The translators are lured out of their booths and applauded. He next expresses his appreciation to the ‘second most important person’ here, his colleague Martin fromSwitzerland, who ‘with his point of order avoided a vote’. The most important person is, however, the Executive Secretary and Bruno says that he did a wonderful job and gives him a swiss watch in recognition of this.

There is warm and prolonged applause.

Bruno notes that the transport costs of the IWC gavel must be high and for the first and last time this meeting he brings it down and we are finished for this year (and next).

Finally some thanks from the WDCS away team here in Panama as it packs its bags

The blog scribe would like to thank new blog editor for help and good humour and also Mrs Lonsdale for helping the WDCS blog keep on track. He also thanks the other ‘chicas’ for their support. We thank our many allies and friends in the various IWC committees including inter alia all of AWI, Uncle Frank, HSI, EIA (and in particular Mrs Lonsdale).

We would also like to congratulate Dr Dave Mattila on his find work leading the disentanglement and ship strikes work of the Commission via his secondment to the secretariat. We very much hope you can keep up the good work, Dave.

Chair Bruno you did a fine job. Secretariat your innovations have been spectacular – we especially enjoyed the sockets on the table legs (although a table would have been nice for the Commission meeting too). Thank you for all your help these last few weeks.

We thank the host for the nice meeting facilities and especially for feeding us so well – one of us for weeks!

We also thank all the local avifauna for enriching our time here, especially the variable seedeaters around the pool and the tovi parakeets, which reminds us…

By vast popular request we now bring you the third and final instalment of

Tales from the poolside:PART 3

So, we left Fernando entangled in some wool and drowning in the swimming pool in the El Panama hotel.

Some delegates going by notice the small bundle of feathers and wool floating in the pool. His little legs are kicking in the air as he struggles to break free but it is to no avail he is well and truly ensnared. The water is now entering his beak and heading for his lungs. Time is running out for our small confused, entangled, avian chum.

The passing delegates comment on the weird little scene.

‘I believe that may be bycatch’, says one and laughs.

‘Just as long as it is sustainable’, notes another.

‘Is it within agreed confidence limits’ chortles a third.

Meanwhile a small flock of variable seedeaters are going quietly about their business in a near by flower bed, indifferent to the plight of one of their admirers.

But as many delegates pass by and Fernando’s life starts to finally flicker away, there is a disturbance in the water. Something is heading in his direction with some speed and determination. Is it the lithe form of the Luxembourg Commissioner taking his morning swim? No. Is it the European Union delegates heading for their final urgent coordination in the middle of the pool? No. Fortunately for Fernando, it is a crack team of Latin American whale disentanglement apprentices trained in the Mattila-method and funded by the USA.

n no time at all the now limp body of Fernando if retrieved from the pool, the wool is gently unwound from around his legs and wings and for a few seconds the prone body of this small sentient animal lies still in the palm of a delegate’s hand. Then Fernando suddenly sneezes. Sits upright, sneezes again, looks around in astonishment, shrikes loudly and takes to the air. He flies away from the pool out over the roof tops, along the busy road and back to where his flock is gathered on some twisted telegraph wires near their favourite feeding station.

Fernando shakes the remaining water from his feathers and, as if in some way, empowered by his near-death experience, sidles quietly over to where Eeleto sits in the middle of the flock preening (and thinking about his next intervention). Fernando bites him firmly on the rump. Eeleto squeaks and quickly cowers away.

And so it is that Fernando returns successfully to his rightful place as flock leader. His odd behaviour is soon forgiven and the parakeets find many other things to gossip about, but some days, when no other flock member can see, he still quietly flies to the pool side and watches his dear little indifferent variable seedeater.

Here ends the blog.

Take care – it used to be a jungle out there.