After A Rough Channel Crossing, Hope is On the Horizon for Whales
I hugged the rubber bucket tight and sat heaving into it as violent gusts of wind and whipped-up waves engulfed the foredeck of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Song of the Whale. And I began to wonder whether sailing to the Channel Island of Jersey 'midst an early summer storm was actually a good idea.
After a rousing London sendoff from UK Minister for Environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon and supportive parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, our intrepid IFAW team of four and a hardy crew set out early Thursday morning to sail across the English Channel to the Isle of Jersey to attend the 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Like IFAW's research vessel and the great whale species it was established to conserve, the IWC has recently been in troubled waters. Quaint rules and procedures first conceived to govern a small, mid-20th Century whalers’ club have been outstripped by the policies and practices of modern intergovernmental fora. The now 89-member IWC is struggling to cope with the many massive threats that confront our planet's great whales and the nations working in good faith to provide for their conservation.
From familiar threats such as marine pollution and entanglement in fishing gear, to new and emerging challenges such as ocean noise pollution, collisions with high speed vessels, ocean acidification and changes in breeding, feeding and migration patterns brought on by global climate change, whales face more threats today than any time in history.
The Commission is also under threat, from repeated allegations of corruption and lack of transparency, including explosive undercover media investigations on the eve of the last IWC annual meeting indicating some countries were willing to sell their votes in the forum.
Hope is on the horizon.
As Team IFAW arrives in Jersey, the Government of the United Kingdom is championing a proposal for common sense updates to IWC rules that is already gathering support among a clear majority of IWC member countries.
IFAW scientists and campaigners are settling in to work with likeminded government officials and non-governmental experts to encourage the IWC to take action to put the Commission on course for a whale conservation future.
Please check back with us over the next week for updates on this year's IWC meeting and prospects for the global effort to finally end whaling for commercial purposes and protect whales for future generations. Thanks as always for your support for the whales and Team IFAW's work to protect them.
Stay tuned for updates from the 63rd International Whaling Commission meeting this week in Jersey.
For the previous post from IFAW UK Director Robbie Marsland on the topic, click here.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://www.ifaw.org