International Whaling Commission - Monday - Day 1
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 as Sky News Eyewitness. These are reprints of his posts there...
The full IWC commission meeting starts today.
I've attended IWC meetings since 1992 and the day before is always spent going through the possible vote count and discussing the proposals that either side might bring for the IWC to consider. For now, the mood is quietly optimistic.
In 2006, Japan obtained a temporary majority bloc and voted through a pro-whaling declaration, so we are all hoping that this will not happen again.
There are now 76 countries which are members of the IWC, around twice the number when I first became involved, and it looks as though the pro-whale side will have a majority.
It is hard to be sure until the meeting actually starts as it depends on who turns up, whether the delegates have appropriate credentials in order to represent their countries and whether they have paid their membership dues. The situation often changes during the meeting.
An additional controversy this year is that the USA and others are seeking IWC approval of quotas for subsistence whaling which is allowed despite the moratorium on commercial whaling. Five years ago, when these quotas last came up for review, Japan withheld approval of these quotas seeking IWC approval of its commercial whaling in return.
The result was that by the end of that IWC meeting, the quota was not agreed. The USA is very keen that this should not happen again, especially on home turf so close to the Alaska Native communities.
Later today we should get an idea of what Japan has up its sleeve this year.
I'll keep you posted - thanks for reading.