Humane Society International Sums up the 58th IWC meeting
The 58th session of the International Whaling Commission ended today with a swing in the simple majority of votes to pro-whalers, a call to return to the whaling days of 1946, and a serious indication that holding onto the commercial whaling moratorium is becoming more of a struggle.
In summing up the week, Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International, said: “We are now at the point where each vote at the IWC is critical to the welfare of whales. The message is clear: conservation countries must rally more members to join the IWC and vote to save the whales. Time is running out”.
Overall, conservation countries won four out of five of the key votes, including beating back a Japanese led effort to institute a secret ballot system by a vote of 30:33 with 1 abstention. But later in the five day meeting, when all Japan’s supporters had shown up, including Togo paying for its membership in cash, the ground began to shift.
The “St Kitts and Nevis Declaration” passed by a slim majority of 33:32 with 1 abstention, claiming the “commercial whaling moratorium is no longer necessary” and perpetuating the myth that whales eat too many fish.
Passage of the declaration inflamed conservations countries, with Brazil arguing the document was not a valid resolution and then disassociating itself from the entire text, as did the Australia, New Zealand, UK, Monaco, Spain and many others.
Denmark, which cast the decisive vote in favor of Japan, received a flood of phone calls and emails from an outraged public around the globe.
In other activities at the IWC:
- The pro-whaling faction championed their mission to “normalize” the IWC – a return to the dark days of whaling of the IWC - while others in the debate sought to emphasize the conservation component of the treaty and the need for its “modernization”.
- An annual attempt to gut the Southern Ocean Sanctuary was once again defeated, though its margin of safety in votes is starting to decline with the ranks of pro-whaling countries swollen by Japan’s recruitment campaign.
- There was a narrowing defeat of Japan’s yearly request for whales for its coastal communities, another ruse for commercial whaling.
- Brazil withdrew their proposal to establish a sanctuary for whales in the South Atlantic when it was clear the initiative would be thwarted by the pro whalers if taken to a vote.
- Japan also lost a vote to delete discussion of small cetacean conservation from the agenda.
- Country after country lined up to criticise Japan's scientific whaling programs condemning their scientific credibility. Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, gave a presentation to the meeting to clearly show that all the data Japan purports to obtain from hunting whales can be achieved by non lethal means.
Irrespective of all events at the St Kitts meeting, Japan will plough on with their hunt in Antarctica next summer. "The urgent challenge for Australia and conservation allies, is to find a way to stop it", concluded Ms Beynon.
HSI is waiting on a judgement from the Federal Court of Australia on our request to bring a case against the Japanese whaling company for killing whales in breach of Australian law.