Vassili Papastavrou is a whale biologist with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In between lobbying in favour of whale conservation for IFAW he is blogging as this week’s Sky News Eyewitness.
The IWC meeting always starts with an opportunity for new members to make verbal statements, laying out their position on the key issues and putting their wares on the table.
It was wonderful to hear Ecuador's representatives linking their position to that of the existing Latin American bloc of at least eight countries: all are solidly in favour of whale conservation and 'non-lethal utilisation' - IWC-speak for supporting whale watching instead of whaling.
Ecuador was followed by similar statements from the other new members, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Guatemala. On the other side, only Laos has joined to vote with Japan.
In addition several existing members that vote with Japan either haven’t paid up or haven’t turned up. So the voting situation looks better than it has been for several years. The anti-whaling countries could now push through some of their proposals.
The serious business yesterday was taken up with a review of the status of some whale populations around the world. There was a lot of discussion of the Western Pacific Gray whale, which, with only 120 animals left, is on the verge of extinction.
Four of these whales have been recently entangled and killed in fishing nets in Japan. Many countries urged Japan to take action.
There was also a discussion about the cruelty of whaling and the refusal of Norway, Japan and Iceland to supply any data on times to death. Delegation after delegation urged them to think again.
But it comes as no surprise that the whalers do not want the world to know how cruel their whaling is.