Update from Santiago: 6/21

Update from Santiago: Since the meeting I’m attending is confidential, I’m writing this on Thursday, but can’t tell you about it till 10:00am Monday morning. Thankfully, our blog lets me set the time and date to post something automatically.  Hope you enjoy the following. I’m sitting here in the meeting on "The Future of the IWC" and there is a real air of politeness in every corner of the meeting room.  A sort of bureaucratic warm n’ fuzzy feeling you get when you’re drinking a cup of hot cocoa on a cold night in front of a fireplace.  Only here there is no drink or fire, but rather polite cordial discussion amongst a bunch of political suits.

Today's meeting is about making improvements to the IWC’s
administrative procedures that were identified at the London
intersessional meeting last March.  On the surface it’s mind-numbingly
dull. Sitting in a room discussing administrative procedures is about
as fascinating as watching paint dry.  Then you notice subtle comments
made almost under the breath of a particular individual and you start
to wonder if there isn’t more happening here than meets the eye.  For
example there was some discussion on dues for new member countries.
Ok, doesn’t seem like it really pertains to harpooning whales much, but
then you realize that by lowering the financial commitment of
membership you open the door for developing nations to join the IWC.
Reduction in membership dues gives those that otherwise couldn’t afford
to join the IWC a voice to protect whales.   You can tell where a
country stood on the whaling issue by who was for the measure and who
opposed.  Then Hogarth commented, “Well, maybe this could be part of
the package in 2009” and suddenly it clicked. Seemingly minute
administrative issues factor into a deal that could lead to a
resumption of commercial whaling.   I’m pretty sure that none of these
matters have anything to do with science-based decision making, so why
would they be a bargaining chip at the expense of whales? The puzzle
pieces appear to actually be coming together to legitimize whaling?
Until recently most took the moratorium on commercial whaling for
granted but now whales in more danger from flying harpoons is more real
than ever.

Despite the fact that the plenary session doesn’t start until
Monday, the atmosphere around the conference venue is quite busy.  The
scientific committee has concluded and their report is being drafted.
Sounds like there are some interesting papers submitted in past years,
so I’m looking forward to what comes out of this years meeting.
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait to learn of the scientific report as
the contents of the meeting are confidential.   I do know IFAW staff
submitted a few interesting research papers.

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