International Whaling Commission - Wednesday - UPDATE
Patrick here in Anchorage, Alaska where the IFAW team continues to work for the whales at the 59th International Whaling Commission meeting! This year's meeting is going well, with a significantly strengthened conservation majority emerging thanks in part to hard work put in by IFAW and others over the past 12 months!
Here is a quick update:
At last, on Wednesday the Commission had three votes, each of which were good news for whales. After an extensive discussion, Brazil called a vote for its long-standing proposal for a South Atlantic Sanctuary for whales. For the proposal to be successful it would need a three-quarters majority, which Brazil realised it could not achieve. However there was a clear majority with 39 votes in favour, 29 against and three abstentions. This is a good result -- with 60 percent of members voting for the Sanctuary -- much better than in past years. Most of those who voted against are well outside the sanctuary area and do not have Brazil's interest in securing a future for whale watching in the region. We are hopeful this momentum will continue between now and next year's meeting which will be held in the region in Chile.
Two other resolutions were also adopted. One was strongly critical of Japan’s scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean and the other stressed the importance of whale watching. Japan’s bloc of countries decided not to participate in these two votes, perhaps knowing they were going to lose anyway. The margins of the votes were thus 40 to 2 and 42 to 2, an overwhelming majority against Japan's scientific whaling and for whale watching!
We still don't know what is going on with Japan proposal for coastal commercial whaling. The agenda item has been kept open without a decision which is often a sign that negotiations are going on behind the scenes. Late in the day Japan distributed a resolution which contained a request for the IWC’s scientists to calculate catches for coastal whaling. This has to be stopped. It will be discussed today, Thursday, the last day of this year's meeting.
Stay tuned for more from the final day of the IWC meeting which we will post as soon as the sessions break this afternoon.
And thanks again for all you are doing to help IFAW save the whales!