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Humpbacks on death row get ‘stay of execution’ for next few weeks
Dark clouds loom over the Future of the IWC
St.Petersburg, USA, 4th of March 2010: Against a background of furious debate, procedural ‘sleight of hand’ and scientific uncertainty, humpback whales have been granted a reprieve from a renewed hunt.
But this stay of execution may only last a few months. The vote on a proposal by Denmark, on behalf of Greenland, to hunt 10 humpback whales a year for aboriginal subsistence use was deferred only because insufficient countries showed up at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. With no quorum, no vote could be taken.
With many countries opposed to the proposal, but others, such as the USA and Sweden, strongly supporting Denmark’s proposal, the IWC has almost thrown out the rule book to try and get this proposal adopted. We now expect the vote to take place at the 62nd annual meeting of the IWC in Morocco, in June this year.
“While we are pleased that the humpbacks have been given a few months of breathing space, we maintain that countries should not be afraid to reject this flawed proposal on its merits. Instead, the IWC is clearly paralyzed by the fear that controversy over Greenland’s proposal will upset the possibility of securing a ‘deal’ on commercial whaling. But still the chances for humpbacks remain slim” says Nicolas Entrup, spokesperson of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) at the Meeting in Florida.
Prior to the Intersessional meeting a Small Working Group of the IWC met to develop a Package on the Future of the IWC that would, if adopted, allow commercial whaling to resume and ’lock in’ Greenland’s quotas for 10 years.
“An EU split over the Danish proposal risks shattering the credibility of the EU. This in turn threatens the future of whole Whaling Commission. The European Union, represented by 25 out of its 27 countries at the IWC needs to quickly get its act together. It needs to agree to a transparent and democratic process to engage proactively in a way that truly represents the majority view of all European citizens who have repeatedly, in survey after survey, expressed their fundamental position of not wishing to see a resumption of commercial whaling”.
The IWC now moves on to discuss the potential of a resumption of commercial whaling in June, in Morocco, but “how can civil society maintain any faith in the ‘Future of the IWC’ process when we have seen such abuse of process to try and force through this humpback proposal’” says the WDCS spokesperson.
For further information, please contact Nicolas Entrup, WDCS, T. + 49 171 1423 117 at the IWC Meeting in St.Petersburg, Florida, USA. E-Mail. Nicolas.firstname.lastname@example.org
Background Information can be found at: www.wdcs.org
Members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meet this week, from Tuesday onwards, in St.Petersburg, Florida, to discuss a proposal that sets out the conditions to make commercial whaling legal again.
The full proposal will be considered at its annual Meeting in June 2010.
On the 4th and 5th of March the IWC will decide on another proposal by Denmark as to whether humpback whales are added to the list of species hunted in the waters off Greenland.
Where does the US stand of these issues?
The publicly ambiguous nature of President Obamas Administrations IWC teams stance on the rush to resume commercial whaling is causing concern amongst the public and Congress.
Please help by letting President Obama know that you want the US to stand up for the whales, and not for the whalers;
Is the European Union selling out on Humpback whales?
The credibility of the International Whaling Commission is undermined by Greenlands attempts to increase whale hunt quota. A Member of the European Union, Denmark, has been keeping the EU hostage for the last three years, trapping the EU in never-ending internal negotiations about this flawed proposal. A failure to agree a consensus position (total agreement by all EU members of the IWC) means that Denmark can force the EU to abstain on its own demand at the IWC for more whales for Greenland.
Conservation led countries can no longer exercise their rights to vote for conservation measures or against whaling proposals, because Denmark can use the requirements of the internal EU negotiation rules to tie the EU up in knots.
You can read about the issue of Greenlands proposal here in the joint WDCS/WSPA report revealing the failings in Greenland Whaling.
Thanks to all of you who acted by sending an action alert to EU Ministers. Your intervention caused the EU question its position and helped stop an abuse of process to ram this proposal through.
Its not over yet and we still need to let the EU know that when this proposal comes back in June at the annual meeting of the IWC.
Please take action to let the countries of the European Union that they cannot allow Denmark to hold the EU back from upholding their conservation lead.
Is the Future of the IWC the end of the whaling ban?
Two years ago the Members of the IWC agreed to open negotiations to potentially develop a proposal that could be seen as a kind of compromise between the differing positions of those countries engaging in whaling and those wanting all commercial whaling banned once and for all.
An IWC Small Working Group (SWG) of countries of differing opinions was tasked with taking these discussions forward.
During the first week of March the Small Working Group discussed their Chairmans draft of their deliberations and sought to make recommendations to this years annual Meeting of the IWC (due to take place in June, in Morocco) for a final decision to be made.
WDCS and our allies are extremely concerned over the current proposal which basically foresees the legalisation of commercial whaling as currently carried out by Norway and Iceland under a reservation or objection to the moratorium.
Unfortunately, from what we understand, the right for Member States to undertake so called scientific whaling enshrined in Article VIII of the Whaling Convention will continue to exist, allowing Japan to continue its activities, both for commercial and research purposes.
The vague concessions achieved by countries claiming to focus on whale conservation is a limitation of such whaling activities to Iceland, Norway and Japan and a still to be negotiated reduction of the number of whales killed within a ten years time. And then …how many whales will be dying ?
Both Norways and Japans whalers have welcomed the proposal as a stepping stone to full scale industrial whaling on many more species. They see the first ten years of this so-called deal as simply a transition to allow them to prepare to ratchet up their whaling.
The deal now moves on to Morocco in June. WDCS shall be there and will keep you informed of our campaign as we move towards this annual meeting of the IWC.
Read a general critique of the Deal by WDCS
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More on the background of whaling