A whale of a victory!
Okay, maybe a small cetacean of a victory - the motion of Highly Migratory Cetaceans proposed by Monaco strengthening current conservation measures just passed!
The resolution calls for the IWC to collaborate with other organizations (such as the United Nations) in regards to conservation and protection for highly migratory cetacean species. It is hopeful that this will encourage and provide the framework for a cohesive, international action plan to address current and future threats to all 81 recognized cetacean species - only 17 species have measures in place currently.
During Monaco's presentation of the resolution, the commissioner made an impassioned statement about the plight of whales worldwide. He argued they are facing many anthropogenic threats, aside from direct killings, ranging from entanglement to noise pollution.
He also analogized taking cetaceans, even the so-called small cetaceans, as taking parts out of a car engine - it is not likely to perform any better after doing so. Solutions require a dialogue among countries, organizations, and agencies to move forward on these issues since the IWC cannot face these alone, and called for an increase of the number of workshops conducted on these conservation issues.
The floor was then opened for discussions among countries, led by Australia who voiced their support for Monaco's resolution.
Italy, speaking on behalf of the EU, echoed the statements made by Monaco on the current threats, conservation issues, and proposed measures for the whales.
Norway, however, stated that many cetacean species are not highly migratory and that pollution, for example, is occurring in national jurisdiction and should be handled as such instead of internationally. They stated that most of the threats are not specific to small cetaceans and therefore small cetacean species should not be included in the resolution. Norway asserted that most importantly, they do not consider this a high priority issue for IWC.
Japan aligned with Norway and decreed that small cetacean issues are outside of IWC jurisdiction.
Iceland made their brief interjection, stating their country will not tolerate conservation management internationally.
The United States, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru, and the Dominican Republic agreed that conservation depends on international cooperation and so aligned themselves with Monaco.
Uruguay also pointed out that whales, as well as other animals, recognize no borders so it is important to provide cohesive protections worldwide.
Mexico stated they fully support the resolution since it only enhances current articles by making it obligatory to participate.
Monaco reminded the committee that he made substantial effort to eliminate controversial statements from the resolution such as even mentioning whaling and focused on threats to whales outside of direct hunting. Therefore, since the resolution does not take a position on whaling, Monaco urged all nations to support the resolution. He also emphasized that science would support that most cetaceans are highly migratory in the sense that they do not just stay in one area. He concluded by making the point that taking whales is not fishing, it is hunting, and the hunters pursue them mercilessly to kill them and because they do not reproduce fast, it takes them a long time to recover.
Though there was not consensus by the end of the discussions, Monaco moved to proceed with a vote on IWC65/11 on Highly Migratory Species, which only requires a simple majority.
The motion passed!
Vote 2: Resolution on Highly migratory cetaceans (IWC/65/11)
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Considering there were over 50 countries present at IWC65, each with strong opinions on whaling and whale conservation, I think the meeting was very constructive and cordial.
October 7, 2014
A special thank you to...
...and everyone else that contributed to make my attendance at the IWC possible