Not-So-Breaking News!…Japan Hates Sea Shepherd (Year No. 3)

Posted July 5, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

For the third time in as many years, IWC participants are a captive audience to “IWC goes to the movies”, Japan-style.   This year, Japan’s commissioner Kenji Kagawa treated us to a riveting (well, not really) presentation entitled, Don’t Condone Violent Actions by Sea Shepherd Against Japan, which left very little to the imagination as to the content.

“We feel that it’s unfortunate to repeat this comment year after year.  Since 2005, Sea Shepherd has been constantly demonstrating against us as we carry out scientific research approved by the IWC and we have been experiencing danger to our ships and crew members.  Because of the actions of Sea Shepherd, we have had injuries to our crew members and damage to our vessels.  Sea Shepherd has been crashing into us intentionally and other acts of violence.  They have boarded our ships illegally, arrested, and have been tried.

In the 2011-2012 season, Sea Shepherd has carried out atrocious and malicious activities. Roping our research vessels, coming close to our ships, sending fire bombs and also aiming various weapons at us.  They have bombs with different colors and trying to fire colored smoke bombs at us.  Since these activities, we have been receiving several attempts to undermine our scientific activities, and this is a great regret to us.  I would like to ask the international community to help and support us in our efforts to end these acts of violence and no longer condone the acts of Sea Shepherd violence.

Sea Shepherd continued its violent activities in the 2012 season as well.  They launched glass bottles using high-powered launchers.  Again, the Sea Shepherd are caught launching glass bottles against Japanese crew.  In fact, during the last season, one of the crew was spattered by spilled Butyric acid when one Sea Shepherd deployed dangerous ropes on our propellers. They deploy them right in front of Japanese vessels and a lot of non-biodegradable materials was used.  This is one of the ropes used by Sea Shepherd and retrieved by a Japanese vessel. The purpose of the propeller fouler is to destroy the propeller using metal pipes.  These propeller foulers not only threaten safety at sea but could harm the Antarctic environment and ecosystem.  This is a quote from the Sea Shepherd website that their tactics are non-violent.  But as I have shown you, the group’s tactics are extremely violent.”

(Quote from Japan’s presentation:The conservation societywill utilize every and all aggressive non-violent strategies and tactics…” – SS homepage News and Media, “Operation Divine Wind” June 30, 2011.”)

“Last year, IWC adopted a resolution on Safety at Sea.  It’s a shame that the spirits of the resolution are not fully respected, as you can see from these violent actions.  Sea Shepherd takes violent actions including launching propeller foulers and launching projectiles such as glass bottles and signal flares.  Law enforcement should be bound by international law in the high seas.  But lack of action from flag states have been condoning Sea Shepherd actions.   The whaling controversy cannot be used to justify violence  Let me end my presentation by quoting part of the resolution which was adopted by consensus last year.”

(“Safety at Sea” Resolution 2011-2 included here)

“So in this manner, we have seen the violence enacted by Sea Shepherd has threatened the safety of vessels at sea, the lives of crew members, and the property of ship owners.  These are acts of violence and should not be tolerated by any country that adheres to international maritime law.  Based on these acts of violence, we have been unable to carry out our legal research activities.  On this point, with regard to the violent activities of Sea Shepherd, we have considered these serious issues and asked appropriate countries to take actions.

At the IMO, we have asked for the adoption of resolution of statements criticizing Sea Shepherd, and have tried to solve this problem under the umbrella of cooperation.  In Japan, with regard to violent activity in the past, we have acquired arrest warrants for five activists whose actions have been confirmed.  We have asked INTERPOL for the arrest of these five internationally.

The criminal acts of these people have been notified to the secretariat of IMO and during the 2011-2012 seasons, before and after the occurrence of acts of sabotage. We have been approaching the relevant range states with regard to Sea Shepherd sabotage, especially The Netherlands, the flag nation of Sea Shepherd, and Australia, where Sea Shepherd is situated. We have been asking them to take responsible measures so that these acts of sabotage stop and to prevent recurrence of sabotage. Looking at the most recent season, no effective counter-measures have been taken by these relevant governments to prevent the acts of sabotage by Sea Shepherd. We would like to ask for the executive port of Sea Shepherd vessels, and the departure of Sea Shepherd vessels from the ports, and increase monitoring of Sea Shepherd members, and execution of enforcement, and review of preferential treatments they are receiving such as tax relief and subsidies.  As for past criminal acts, we would like to take legal relevant acts.  I would like to ask governments to cooperate with us for investigations, and seek continuous cooperation.  We would like to declare anew that we cannot tolerate acts of violence on legitimate research activities.”

Commissioners cannot resist responding to this ‘scientific research dog and pony show’, mostly for the benefit of their constituents back home.  Some can go on the record as taking a stand against so-called ‘scientific whaling’ and maritime safety, while others can advocate for the right to peaceful protest and dissent.  The paramour nations never miss an opportunity to demonstrate allegiance to their Japanese sugar daddy with histrionic cries of outrage and effrontery.

As for Japan, it benefits on both fronts. For sympathizers, it demonstrates a degree of international support for its “we hate Sea Shepherd” position with on-the-record statements – a good return on investment of vote-buying yen.  Secondly, Japan can use the platform to portray itself as a powerless, victimized nation thrown under the proverbial bus by western racist nations that willfully turn a blind eye to its being bullied by irrational black t-shirt wearing wanna-be pirates.

There are thirty-three Japanese delegates in Panama.  Surely at least one of these esteemed gentlemen has heard the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Hey, Japan… it’s time to try something different.

If you’re interested in the always-colorful interventions on this agenda item from IWC commissioners, stay tuned for the next post.

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Whaling in Bequia: Not ‘Aboriginal’… Learned from Yankees

Posted July 4, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

Tuesday, July 3rd:  As we all know by now, the schedule amendment to bundle Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) quotas for the U.S., Russian Federation, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines was reluctantly passed by a vote on the Commission floor.  Most commissioners submitting interventions on the floor expressed ‘regret’ that the SVG quota request (aka, “whaling gone wild”) was not permitted to be extracted from the proposal and evaluated on its own merit… or lack thereof.

Amid the histrionics and allegations of ‘Colonialist racism’ from Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis, one NGO representative – a native Bequian – had the temerity to take the plenary floor to read a poignant statement that exposed the thinly-veiled litany of lies and damn lies from the aforementioned commissioners.

The statement from Louise Mitchell Joseph of Eastern Caribbean Coalition of Environmental Awareness is presented below.

My name is Louise Mitchell Joseph.  I am native of Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  I speak on behalf of the Eastern Caribbean Coalition of Environmental Awareness, which is represented here by two NGOs – the Friends of the Tobago Cays and the SVG National Trust, which I chair.

I speak today on the issue of aboriginal whaling in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  In doing so, my group wishes to emphasize that in principle we are in support of Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling in circumstances where the subsistence needs are genuine and the whalers are authentic aboriginal peoples.  This is not the case in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Aboriginal Whaling

In my capacity as Chairperson of the National Trust, I oversee all archaeological work that is carried out across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as to facilitate the research and documentation of the true history of our nation.

Never in the history of archaeology in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have there been any findings to suggest that the Kalinago or Garifuna peoples killed whales, interacted with whales, or ate whale meat.  The Kalinago and the Garifuna are the aboriginal peoples of our country.  Over the last several years there have been many archaeological excavations conducted and there was no evidence found whatsoever of whale hunting by aboriginal peoples.  Neither whale remains nor weapons that could have been used to kill such large mammals were ever found. Neither are any images of whales inscribed in our petroglyphs. 

The killing of the humpback whales on Bequia is a relic of European and American origin, which began in about 1875 by a Scottish settler William Wallace together with his whaling partner, a settler of French origin, Joseph Ollivierre.  It is not an ‘aboriginal’ activity, it is an activity learned from the Yankee whalers.  Modern day whaling in Bequia is done by persons of mixed European and African descent.  

Economic Argument

The killing of humpback whales on Bequia cannot be justified on economic grounds or nutritional needs.  Alternative sources of protein can be obtained at cheaper prices on the island of Bequia.  Those sources include chicken and certain types of fish.

The alleged need for whale meat in SVG statement presented is based on the assumption that all of the 6,000 persons on Bequia actually eat whale meat, which is not the case, especially because much of the meat is taken to the main island of St. Vincent, which is not the intended recipient of the quota.  The IWC very specifically awards it to meet the needs of the people of Bequia. We must also look at changes in consumption patterns and food preferences over time.  The current trend among young people indicates that whale meat is not a desirable option.  A recent High School Survey (2011), which included Bequia students, showed that only 39% admitted to have ever eaten whale meat.  Also, some persons of certain religious faiths on Bequia do not eat whale meat.  It is, however, considered a delicacy and enjoyed by persons especially in the Paget Farm and La Pompe communities.  

The most critical economic argument in relation to whaling activities on Bequia is its negative impact on the tourism industry, which the entire country is heavily dependent upon, including Bequia.  It is the largest industry, the biggest employer, and the greatest source of foreign exchange revenue.  This has been the case since the collapse of the banana industry after the loss of preferential treatment on the European market.  The agricultural sector was further destroyed by Hurricane Tomas in 2010; and soon thereafter was hit by the black Sigatoka and Moka diseases, which destroyed most of the bananas in 2011 and 2012.  These events have caused SVG to be even more dependent on tourism than ever before. The killing of humpback whales in the heart of the main tourism area, the island of Bequia, is extremely damaging to the tourism industry.  It is a practice that we simply cannot afford as a country to continue.  The whaling activities of a small community should not be allowed to have such devastating economic impact on the rest of Vincentian society.

Infractions

It is a well known fact that the Bequia whalers have had a long tradition of hunting mothers and calves, contrary to IWC-AWS regulations.  Our government has had a history of non-compliance with respect to its obligations to the IWC, including absence of adequate measures for the collecting and reporting of data in relation to whaling activities of Bequia.  

There is a misrepresentation in the SVG 2012 Statement of Needs, which reads, “Where there is wind the boats use their sails while searching for whales and to pursue them.” This statement omits to mention they key role of speedboats in the hunt, including towing the whale boat to the vicinity of the whale to give the appearance of ASW and to tow the dead whale back to shore.  Evidence can be seen in the Animal Welfare Institute report referred to below.  Based on numerous eye witness accounts, speedboats are not only used to herd the whales but also to strike whales, and have become a regular component to the hunting activities in recent years.  One such strike-and-loss, where the whale was harpooned from the speedboat and not the whale boat, occurred this past year just outside Admiralty Bay, a spectacle which was viewed by many.

Whale meat is not only sold on mainland St. Vincent but also in neighboring countries, and even to the Vincentian Diaspora in the United States and elsewhere.  I had an aunt of blessed memory, Auntie Gloria, who lived in St. Lucia and on her annual visit to Bequia would purchase her beloved Bequia whale oil to take back to St. Lucia with her in her suitcase.

I wish to also draw your attention to the ASW infractions by whalers on Bequia as set out in the June 2012 report by the Animal Welfare Institute.  Animal welfare interest groups would note that the cold non-exploding harpoon is still commonly used, which results in suffering and prolonged death after a whale has been struck.

Conclusion

In conclusion, and in light of the lack of genuine subsistence needs, commercialization of the catch, record of infractions, animal cruelty and the fact that the hunters are not aboriginal peoples as the exception for ASW requires, we call on the IWC to withdraw entirely a proposal for a quota of humpback whales on St. Vincent and the Grenadines to hunt whales under the IWC-ASW provision.  

Louise Mitchell Joseph, Eastern Caribbean Coalition of Environmental Awareness (ECCEA)

Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission Defends Bowhead Quota

Posted July 3, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

In advance of discussions leading up to a vote on the Proposal by the Russian Federation, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and the United States of America (http://bit.ly/JoeXSU), the following statement was prepared and read by George Noongwook, Chair of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC).

“Good morning and thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak here today.  My name is George Noongwook.  I am a whaling captain from Savoonga, Alaska, and I am Chair of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.  Together, we represent four of the eleven northern Alaskan villages that depend on bowhead whales.  Life in our villages is a lot different from what most of you are experiencing.  Most of you here go to a grocery store on a regular basis for your food.  We in Savoonga have one grocery store.  You might find canned milk there. A pound of meat, if you can find it, might be $12.00 per pound.  We have fuel there, and a gallon of gas is $7.00.  We don’t get much food form the store.  We get most of our food from the ocean – whales, walrus, and fish.  This is how we feed our children, our families, and our elders.

This is how we have fed our families for over 2000 years.

We’ve been coming to IWC since 1977. Most of you will never visit our villages, but the decisions you make here have real impacts on lives.  We take your decisions seriously and abide by them.  Everybody knows that when our quota is discussed at IWC, everybody stays up at night, wondering…how will we feed our family?  Our bowhead whale stocks are healthy and able to withstand our hunt.

I’m sure most of you have never had to prove your need for food from your sources. but we are told we have to prove our need for food from our only reliable source of food – the oceans.

In 1977, the IWC asked us to asked us to improve the efficiency of our hunt.  Our average efficiency is 75 percent, despite spring ice that makes our hunt harder.  We were asked to upgrade our weapons to Penthrite (harpoons).  We have done that.

In spite of all of our efforts, we have faced many threats to our subsistence quota due to politics here, and all sides of the debate of commercial whaling.  This is devastating to our communities back home.  I don’t want to be negative – its’ not my way.  But I want to ask you to consider that your decisions here have impacts on real people.  Our way of life may seem foreign to you, but we are people like you are – we have families.  The food we take from the oceans keep our families alive and healthy.  Our hunting practices allow us to keep our families and cultures healthy.  Several of us have left our families to be here to answer your questions.  I want to thank you for your support for us to allow us to take whales at current levels.  Thank you very much.”

A Majority of IWC Commissioners Agree: One Out of Three ASW Quotas Sucks

Posted July 3, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

PROPOSAL BY THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

This is a long one, folks.  Get yourself a sandwich and make yourself comfortable.

Tuesday morning was a fast and furious litany of point-and-counterpoint discussion and interventions by commissioners addressing the Proposal by the Russian Federation, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and the United States of America (http://bit.ly/JoeXSU).  Based on the comments by commissioners of over 25 IWC contracting governments, very few are satisfied with the U.S.’s effort to “bundle” three individual aboriginal subsistence whaling (ABS) quotas, from three different countries, addressing three different species (gray whales, humpback whales, and bowhead whales, respectively) from three different stocks.  This proposal was particularly controversial and divisive because it bundled a very poorly-managed, renegade, and often illegal whale hunt (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) with that of highly-regulated, well-documented and managed ASW hunts (U.S. bowhead and Russian Federation gray whale hunts). The primary bone of contention was not aboriginal whaling, per se, but the issue of linking renegade whaling on the verge of commercialization with credible ASW quotas.

You may be asking yourself, “Why would the U.S. risk associating its reputation – in an election year – by associating itself with a country that: 1) flagrantly hunts humpback whale calves in speedboats; 2) uses whale killing techniques outlawed by the IWC because they are ‘cruel and inhumane’; 3) fails to report biological and welfare data to the IWC, and; 4) is widely known to be openly courted by Japan?

Ah, bingo!  The U.S. needed Japan’s support of its ABS bowhead quota.  What could the U.S. bring to the table as a negotiation point?  How about legitimizing whaling operations in one of Japan’s ‘Caribbean lap-dog’ countries?  Great idea.  It was risky, and in the end, successful… unfortunately.  Rather than conceding to the requests of almost 50 international NGOs and the commissioners of numerous contracting nations to ‘unbundle’ the super-package, co-sponsors of the proposal, led by the U.S., refused.  This is a risky position for the U.S., which now risks terrible press from NGOs who are all too happy to report on the alignment of the Obama Administration with Japan’s lapdogs, who don’t apparently give a damn about adhering to acceptable practices of legitimate ASW policies.

Here’s what was said on the plenary floor from your commissioners….

DOMINCAN REPUBLIC:  The DR would like to recognize the U.S. for the unconditional support it has lent the DR in whale conservation efforts. However, the DR feels that in the Caribbean, humpback whale issues have been looked at from a different point of view.  Our whale watching industry brings in about 9 million USD in just 75 days.  With regard to SVG, we believe that this is the wrong way to focus on the humpback whale resources.  We call this system ‘artisanal whaling out of control’.  They have consistently failed in meeting requirements by the Scientific Committee and have broken many standards.  They hunt young ones as well as mothers.

In the Caribbean, there have been no aboriginal people for over 300 years.  For this need, we recognize the need of indigenous peoples in the U.S and the Russian Federation, but we cannot recognize the request of SVG.

JAPAN:  Our stand is that… it is important to promote sustainable uses of marine resources based on scientific findings.  Therefore, we strongly support the (joint) proposal.

ECUADOR:  Ecuador rejects the request for whaling by SVG, as presented.  There is lack of compliance and regular reporting.  We ask SVG to withdraw its request and shift to sustainable uses of whale resources, such as whale watching.

MEXICO: We regret that requests are presented in a single package; we may have to vote on it.  We really do not like this package deal; we would like to see each package on its own. SVG is closer to commercial whaling than ASW whaling, however, Mexico would like to support SVG in efforts to develop whale watching.

GRENADA:  Yesterday, we listened carefully to the SC report on this question, and the results clearly demonstrate that a sustainable use could be possible and would not harm stocks in the areas we’re discussing.  Today, we also listened carefully to the presentation by the U.S. representative.  We believe that we can support this package proposal.  We cannot grant one country our support and withdraw it from another. Therefore, we support the package as presented.

COLOMBIA:  Regarding the proposal, Colombia believes that it should be discussed by components dealing separately.  We have no comments to make regarding the US and Russia, however, for the request of SVG, the report was not submitted in a timely manner. We believe that the information given by the commissioner of SVG yesterday should be submitted to the Scientific Committee for consideration at the next meeting.  We have concerns about whether this activity is really aboriginal subsistence whaling, and we would like to join what Mexico said. And, we can also lend technical assistance to SVG in whale watching.

CHILE:  Regarding the proposals for aboriginal subsistence whaling, Chile associates its comments with the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Colombia. We support the proposal for Russia and the U.S., as we believe that they do comply with provisions by the IWC, however, we would like to see a separation of this proposal, since we see that SVG do not comply with aboriginal subsistence whaling and they would be in violation of the Moratorium.

COSTA RICA: Costa Rica feels the same as other countries with respect to aboriginal subsistence whaling.  Regarding the request by SVG, our country believes that it does not have sufficient scientific evidence to substantiate their request.  In the Declaration of Needs submitted by SVG, they used to hunt small cetaceans and practiced this in the 18th and 19th Century.  However, the world has evolved and whales generate more revenue alive through whale watching.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS:  I would like to congratulate the U.S. for showing leadership and courage to galvanize aboriginal peoples so as to ensure their desire to hunt and maintain traditions so that they are not trampled on.   We’re talking about subsistence hunting needs for food, to meet cultural and nutritional needs of coastal peoples.  We are all considerate of the need for food securities for coastal and marginal peoples.  We affirm the rights of communities to obtain food from whatever resources are available to them.  Mr. Chair, I think that this proposal has met all of the standards that have been established by our Commission, and falls within the acceptable uses of marine resources, and I must underline the fact that the Convention gives coastal states the sovereign rights to utilize their marine resources in a way that they see fit.  For some countries to come here and impose their views on smaller, poorer countries is rude, arrogant and borders on racism.  Small counties are being singled out for ridicule; we are small and vulnerable, and they are encouraged to scandalize their fellow countries. In the Dominican Republic, the commissioner claims that they are making a lot of money from whale watching – we congratulate them.  But SVG has a right to use their marine resource in a way that they serves their needs and their people.

SVG deserves an apology from the commissioners from these countries.  These comments are rude, and they have nothing to do with the friendly relationship that we enjoy with other nations in the Caribbean.

Why should the small, vulnerable country of SVG be punished for taking four whales from 10,000?  Why can’t anybody see that this is Colonialism rebirthed?  Why should we spend our time in frivolous arguments?  I hope that the indigenous peoples of Latin America are listening today.  Enough is enough, Mr. Chair!  I am appealing to this August body to resist from bigotry, to desist from elements of racism, and do what is right for the people of the world.

Chair Mainini (to Saint Kitts and Nevis):  I am not interested in hearing about Colonialism or cows in Australia, could you please stick to the point?

SAINT LUCIA:  I would like to clarify to the gentleman of the Dominican Republic that there are indigenous peoples in the Caribbean.  I am a descendent of the Carib, and there are full-blooded indigenous peoples living in the OEDS.  We have to look at food security; the whales being taken by these counties are to provide food for the people.  I heard countries splitting this proposal; I urge that countries please not consider this.  This will cause serious divisions in this Commission and will create mistrust and animosity.  The take of 4 whales from the North Atlantic humpback stock will not harm the stock of over 11,000 whales.  I say to the Dominican Republic, you can conduct your whale watching while SVG conducts its hunts.  The hunts are sustainable and yes, they are providing food to its people.  I’m sure there will be comments in the future about ‘who’s selling what to whom.’  If they are not allowed to at least sell a portion of that quota, how will they improve time-to-death?  If we want to improve time-to-death, we need to consider the cost incurred to these countries.  The cost of a Penthrite head is $1,000.  How will they pay for that?

ICELAND: In Iceland, we have whale watching and whale hunting in the same location, and there is nothing saying that this is incompatible.  It is easy to run this together.

CYPRUS:  Speaking in behalf of EU member states, we would like to express our support of this particular proposal.  We are committed to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, and support ASW to support documented needs.  We are guided by precautionary principles of the Scientific Committee.

KOREA: We feel sympathy for the aboriginal people and their dependence on whale meat.  Korea would like to stress that our coastal whaling communities shares much in common with other aboriginal peoples in terms of their long-term dependence on whale meat, since prehistoric times.  We would like to support aboriginal subsistence whaling, but note that some countries have suffered from the Moratorium; it has been painful.  Some whaling communities have suffered economically because they are not able to conduct minke whaling.  Cultural differences and diversity must be reorganized and respected.  Needs for quotas must be granted as long as the use is sustainable.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA:  We wish to associate ourselves with the comments of Iceland, Japan, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and all of the ‘right-thinking nations who support this proposal.  Food and nutritional securities are human rights; no nation ought to have to prove their entitlement to food.

DENMARK:  We support aboriginal subsistence needs and reliance on whaling wholeheartedly; Having traveled in the north Arctic communities, I understand how precarious life is in those areas. We have a difference of cultural understanding and compassion.  This will slowly make IWC redundant.  We support the proposal and really discourage the splitting up of this proposal.

GHANA:  I always call for is peace and decorum – to force the unity, so that we can help each other, especially the strong ones propping the weaker one.  So, if we have issues that border on food security, employment, economic parameters, I think we should give it a good hearing. I want to congratulate the U.S. for bringing this proposal and want to associate my comments with those counties who support the proposal… to help those who are weak.

SOUTH AFRICA:  In South Africa, we don’t have aboriginal whaling, but we do have poaching and some land areas, and fishing in marine areas, and are moving to whale watching.  I fully support the proposal put forth by the U.S., Russia, and St. Vincent’s and the Grenadines.

SWITZERLAND: We fully support this proposal and are against splitting the proposal.

ISRAEL:  Regarding this package, we associate our comments with those countries in support of the proposal and are against splitting it.  The main reason for our support is the recommendation of the Scientific Committee.

ARGENTINA:  As other countries of the Buenos Aires Group said, Argentina has no problem with aboriginal subsistence whaling for Russia and the U.S. which are well-supported.  However, we do worry as expressed by other countries of Buenos Aires Group with comments of SVG.  Therefore, we cannot support the proposal ‘as-is’.

BRAZIL:  We, like other members of the Buenos Aires Group, we regret that we have to consider a package of three countries and three situations.  In the future, it would be useful to consider each quota on its own merit.  We have no question about the U.S. and Russia, but also have concerns with relation to SVG, related to the ASW subcommittee. Report and concerns raised today and yesterday by several delegations.  We are having difficulty in sporting this proposal in relation to SVG.

GRENADA:   We support interventions by SKN, AB, and SL.  We view this attack on SVG as divisive and not in the spirit of compromise and consensus which we have been trying to achieve.  Mr. Chair, I’m disappointed by what I am hearing this morning.

TANZANIA:  We do not support splitting this proposal, and associate our comments with SKN and SL.

PERU: We associate our comments with members of the BAG, and have concerns about the request SVG.  Different counties are supported by different arguments and should be treated separately.

MONACO:  We do unequivocally support the U.S. and Russia; it would have been preferable to treat these separately from the request of SVG. We are dealing with different latitudes, different practices, and different needs of different counties.  We are dealing with a special category of whaling called “A.S.W.’, where the “A” stands for “Aboriginal”.  There is no evidence that native peoples have practiced whaling in the Caribbean.  In the future, it may be necessary to have a historian present to help us with that issue.  That said, Monaco will not interfere with consensus on this issue.

PALAU:  Palau will support the joint package on the basis that… it will not harm the stock.

Chair Mainini:  There was no formal request to split the proposal, so the proposal stands ‘as is’.  Do we have, even if there are other opinions expressed, consensus?

ARGENTINA:  We wanted to ask for a short break whether there is a consensus to speak with other members of the Buenos Aires Group.

ECUADOR:  We would also like to request a break.  We are in agreement for two elements of this proposal – the quotas proposed for the U.S. and Russian Federation. However, there is no consensus within the group to adopt the third element with regard to SVG.  We have witnessed yesterday a vote on the issue of the South Atlantic Sanctuary, in which we have first tried to work by consensus, but when it was not possible, we took a decision by vote.  At this occasion now, we are also bound by our rules of procedure and therefore, I would ask on behalf of the BAG for guidance on how we can say “yes” to your question on how to proceed.

MEXICO:  After having paid attention to all countries that have spoken, it is clear that there is consensus for the quotas for the U.S. and Russian Federation, but not for SVG.  We would like to vote separately for the U.S. and Russian, and separate the quota for SVG.

U.S.: The Governments of US, RF and SVG resist efforts to divide the quotas; all are for a status quo quota, have been approved by the SC, and meet the guidelines for ABS as determined by the Commission.

Chair Mainini:  At this time, there is for the second time, no possibility for consensus.  For me, there is no other way than to go for a vote of the proposal by the U.S., Russian Federation, and the SVG.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA:  Are we voting separately for the quota requested by SVG, or separately for the three quotas together?

(Credentials Review:  One more nation present today – Oman, but arriving without credentials, and so cannot vote.  A ¾ majority is required for passage of the schedule amendment).

ROLL CALL VOTE ADMINISTERED BY IWC SECRETARIAT SIMON BROCKINGTON (UK)

Antigua & Barbuda:  YES

Argentina: NO

Australia: YES

Austria: YES

Belgium: YES

Benin: YES

Brazil: NO

Cambodia: YES

Chile: NO

China: YES

Colombia: NO

Costa Rica: NO

Cyprus: YES

Croatia: Not present

Czech Republic: NOT PARTICIPATING

Denmark: YES

Dominican Republic: NO

Ecuador: NO

Estonia: YES

Finland: YES

France: YES

Gabon: NO

Germany: YES

Republic of Ghana: YES

Grenada: YES

Iceland: YES

India: ABSTAIN

Ireland: YES

Israel: YES

Italy: YES

Japan: YES

Kenya:  Not present

Kiribati: YES

Korea:  YES

Laos: YES

Luxemburg: YES

Mexico: YES

Monaco: ABSTAIN

Mongolia: YES

Morocco:  YES

Nauru: YES

Netherlands: YES

New Zealand: YES

Norway: YES

Palau: YES

Panama: YES

Peru: NO

Poland: YES

Russian Federation: YES

Saint Kitts and Nevis: YES

Saint Lucia: YES

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: YES

Slovenia:  YES

South Africa: YES

Spain:  YES

Sweden: YES

Switzerland: YES

Tanzania: YES

Togo:  YES

Tuvalu: YES

United Kingdom:  YES

United States:  YES

Uruguay: NO

ROLL-CALL VOTING OUTCOME :  48 “YES”; 10 “NO”; 2 “ABSTAIN”; 1 “DO NOT PARTICIPATE. Schedule amendment adopted as submitted.

In closing, a majority of IWC commissioners agree – one in three of these ASW proposals sucks.

Is that rain, or Just St. Vincent & the Grenadines?…

Posted July 3, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

In an unprecedented strategy aimed at passing a ‘super-proposal’ of aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) quotas, the U.S., Russian Federation, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines have submitted a joint schedule amendment, marking the first time that multiple countries have submitted a “bundled” request for their ASW quotas for three species (bowhead, gray whales, and humpbacks) from three populations (‘stocks’).

Why is This Important?

Bundling unrelated quotas of different species and stocks sets a dangerous precedent because it allows an unsubstantiated or questionable ASW quota to be seriously considered for approval by the Commission because it is linked with a much less controversial quota.

The best example of this is the so-called ASW quota put forth by St. Vincent & the Grenadines, which has never demonstrated the aboriginal nature of this hunt convincingly to the Commission through a Needs Assessment. Indeed, it is proving to be very challenging for SVG Commissioner Edwin Snagg to defend any aspect of the Bequian whale hunt at this year’s meeting.  In a formulaic strategy often used by his histrionic colleagues from St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda, Commissioner Snagg seems to believe that if he shouts the loudest and acts with utmost affront, he will silence the stream of questions from his esteemed commissioners challenging the nature of and the need for, the SVG request for a quota of 24 humpbacks from 2013-2018.

In addition to never having satisfied a justifiable Needs Assessment for its quota, SVG has consistently and repeatedly failed to report biological, welfare, and strike/kill data to the IWC.  It has illegally pursued and killed whale species outside of the purview of its allotted quota.  It has intentionally and illegally targeted humpback whale calves in order to lure mothers to whaling boats.  It consistently uses killing methods deemed to be ‘cruel and inhumane’ and expressly prohibited by the IWC.  It has condoned the use of speedboats rather than ‘open wooden boats’ (as so romantically and erroneously purported in tourist literature).  Finally, it has falsely and intentionally misrepresented the hunt as being ‘aboriginal’ in nature, when in fact the practice does not align with IWC’s definition of the term.  A single family’s tradition started less than 200 years ago hardly represents an authentic ‘aboriginal’ cultural tradition.   Simply stated, the SVG hunt is not conducted by aboriginal/indigenous peoples, and cultural and nutritional reliance for the hunt has never been sufficiently substantiated.  The burden of proof should be placed squarely on SVG to effectively demonstrate otherwise.

What Should Happen?

The linkage between individual requests for ASW quotas for each stock should be ‘un-bundled’ and evaluated by the Commission based on documented evidence in support of each proposal.  The NGO community worldwide has expressed outrage and dismay that the bundled proposal would be considered by the Commission without precedent or merit.  More importantly, despite numerous requests by NGOs to do so, the co-sponsors of the proposal, primarily the U.S., steadfastly refuse to revise it so that each of the three quotas can be evaluated on the basis of individual merit.

NGOs have been working strategically and diligently to identify a commissioner to champion the movement to “unbundle” this disastrous triad ASW quota package by proposing a motion on the Commision plenary floor to be adopted by a simple majority.

We’ll keep you posted.

As for Commissioner Snagg, a quote by the irrepressible Judith Sheindlin (“Judge Judy”) comes to mind…Sir, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary FAILS to Pass IWC Vote!

Posted July 2, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

The first order of “real” business is a discussion on The South Atlantic: A Sanctuary for Whales, presented by the Governments of Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Uruguay to the IWC64.

Comments as presented by commissioners of the following contracting governments are as follows:

BRAZIL:  The document (IWC/64/8 Rev1, Agenda item 4.1) is the same as the proposal submitted in 2011, and is submitted with the objective of promoting conservation, biodiversity, and maximizing recovery of whale populations throughout their life cycles, with emphasis on breeding habitats and migratory routes with international cooperation and oversight from the IWC.  Also, for the benefit of coastal communities with eco-tourism and non-consumptive use of whales such as whale watching, and to advance research in conservation.  The co-sponsors hope that the resolution can be adopted by this Commission, preferably by consensus.

JAPAN:  I am against this proposal, for the reasons as follows.  When we reviewed the proposal for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (SOWS), this comment applies to the current proposal.  This (proposal) lacks a vigorous approach to the design and approach to the management prescriptions within a sanctuary and represents a ‘shotgun’ approach to management of whale stocks.  As far we understand, there is no scientific justification for the sanctuary, and so it’s against the Convention, which states that sanctuaries have to be established on the basis of scientific evidence.  Also, this proposal is being proposed even though there is already a moratorium on commercial whaling.  There is no commercial whaling conducted in the South Atlantic, so it’s like building a roof upon a roof, and is unnecessary.  We hope that the Commission will reject this proposal.

INDIA:  We support the establishment of the SAWS, keeping in view that it will promote marine biodiversity and enhance the livelihood of coastal communities through whale watching and eco-tourism.

COLOMBIA:  We support the SAWS and re-commit to the non-consumptive use of whales and believe that sanctuaries are an important tool in the protection of whale stocks and the role that (whales) play in maintaining the integrity of their role in the ecosystem.  It will also protect vulnerable coastal communities, which depend on sustainable use of coastal resources.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS:  St. Kitts & Nevis has considered the proposal and has concluded that there is absolutely nothing new in this proposal to address our concerns.  In fact, this has the potential to negatively affect the way in which marine resources are used in the future.  It will be sending a clear and frightening signal that a few countries can impose their view and domestic policies about how marine resources should be used on the high seas.  This is a business of the international community, and not the business of a few states.  The sponsors have not included their own Economic Zones, but are aware of the implications of fisheries and transportation for others.  They want to impose restrictions on other countries, but not their own.  No evidence do I hear that other international bodies have supported this measure.  Whale sanctuaries are an irrational management tool.  We question the intent of the sponsors of this amendment.  We suggest that there is a conspiracy to ‘close’ all of the oceans off for the rights and privileges of coastal nations.  We cannot support this proposal.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Antigua & Barbuda cannot support this proposal and associate with others who do not.  We are concerned that this proposal is identical to the one previously submitted.  This has the implication for coastal nations whose way of life and culture are dependent on marine resources, and consultation with these states should be sought.  Despite our recommendations to members of the Buenos Aires Group, they have yet to seek this consultation.  There is no scientific justification for the establishment of the SAWS; it is not ecologically justified.  I am dismayed that it seems to be the practice of ‘cherry-picking’ issues of the Scientific Committee and it is a dangerous precedent.  The proposal as currently submitted is nothing more than a ‘feel-good’, self-serving measure, and a false sense of security for whales, which are highly migratory species.  Ocean resources must be shared.

NORWAY:  Norway supports the use of sanctuaries when they are functionally justified; there is no scientific justification for this proposal; therefore, we cannot support it.

ECUADOR: We are interested in non-lethal use of cetaceans and fully support the proposal.

AUSTRALIA:  Australia reiterates its strong commitment to whale sanctuaries, and the establishment of new sanctuaries through protection of whales and broader protection of marine resources. Sanctuaries facilitate the protection of whales by providing economic benefits to coastal communities by promoting non-consumptive use of whales, such as whale watching and ecotourism.  We set aside areas where whales can fulfill their ecological roles, and sanctuaries also inspire and educate the public on the importance of promoting marine biodiversity.  We strongly support the establishment of a permanent whale sanctuary which will protect whales.  No whaling, including so-called “scientific whaling” should be conducted in any sanctuary, at any time.

CHILE:  Consistent with our foreign policy, we fully support the proposal to support the proposal to establish the SAWS.  We express our unrestricted support for this proposal.

ICELAND:  Our position is that there has been no scientific investigation to support this proposal, and it will do nothing to enhance the conservation measures already in place, since no whaling takes place in that area.  The proponents are from the Southern Atlantic, but will have strong consequences for nations in the North Atlantic.  Therefore, this proposal needs more consultation and discussion; we are strongly opposed to this proposal.

MEXICO:  We fully support the proposal, for reasons already expressed.  Regarding Japan’s concerns, let me say that there are very clear objectives.  There is no commercial whaling now, but not all stocks are at historic levels.

CYPRESS:  We would like to express our clear support for this proposal.

SWITZERLAND: We acknowledge that sanctuaries can contribute to the conservation and management of whales, and this is why we are in favor of this proposal.  Sanctuaries are fully aligned with the Convention and encourage all coastal states to commit to the conservation and management of whales.

CHAIR: “How should we move forward?”

BRAZIL:  If all efforts to reach consensus fail, then there are procedures to follow.  After a lengthy discussion after our meeting in Jersey, and after a very lengthy discussion on this proposal since it has been presented, we believe that all aspects of these questions have been fully discussed and that all questions have been answered.  It seems to us that we cannot reach consensus, so we seek your consult on having a decision on this very important matter by a vote.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION:  Can you please clarify whether or not we have a quorum?  Not all contracting governments have submitted credentials.

CHAIRWe have a membership of 89 contracting governments.  A quorum would be 45; I have no doubt that there are 45 members present, but the only way to know is to count.  I can count if you like, but I’m certain that there are more than 45 members, so we can proceed with the vote.

Results of Roll-Call Voting of Contracting Governments:

Antigua & Barbuda:  No

Argentina: Yes

Australia: Yes

Austria: Yes

Belgium: Yes

Benin: No

Brazil: Yes

Cambodia: No

Chile: Yes

China: No

Colombia: Yes

Costa Rica: Yes

Cyprus: Yes

Croatia: Not present

Czech Republic: Yes

Denmark: Yes

Dominican Republic: Yes

Ecuador: Yes

Estonia: Yes

Finland: Yes

France: Yes

Gabon: Yes

Germany: Yes

Republic of Ghana: No

Grenada: No

Iceland: No

India: Yes

Ireland: Yes

Israel: Yes

Italy: Yes

Japan: No

Kenya:  Not present

Kiribati No

Korea:  No

Laos: No

Luxembourg: Yes

Mexico: Yes

Monaco: Yes

Mongolia: No

Morocco:  Abstain

Nauru: No

Netherlands: Yes

New Zealand: Yes

Norway: No

Palau: No

Panama: Yes

Peru: Yes

Poland: Yes

Russian Federation: No

St. Kitts and Nevis: No

St. Lucia: No

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Abstain

Slovenia:  Yes

South Africa: Yes

Spain:  Yes

Sweden: Yes

Switzerland: Yes

Tanzania: No

Togo:  No

Tuvalu: No

United Kingdom:  Yes

United States:  Yes

Uruguay: Yes

VOTE RESULTS:  38 “Yes”: 21 “No”; 2 “Abstain” and 0 “No participating”

A  three-quarter majority has not been achieved; therefore, the proposal submitted by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and South Africa to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS) fails to pass.

BRAZIL:  I am reflecting and thinking about the co-sponsors and those who supported our proposal for the SAWS.  The majority of members at this Commission feel disappointed, but we have seen democracy in action and we thank you for the transparency and the concrete way in which you have conducted this vote.  Speaking for Brazil, we see this as an ongoing process.  All sanctuaries established in the past have been subject to a vote, and is an uphill process.

Jumping the Shark… Again

Posted July 2, 2012 by Cheryl M. McCormick
Categories: Uncategorized

Monday, July 2nd, 2012: The 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission is underway with a full agenda.  On the docket for day one, we’re to address four key agenda items, including: 1) establishing the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS); 2) “The Future of IWC”; 3) Whale Stocks, and; 4) Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) quotas.  In reality, it’s unlikely that we’ll slog through all four issues, particularly since the first and last are considered “hot rocks”.

The meeting kicked off with a video presentation sponsored by the Albatross Foundation featuring ‘slo-mo’ aerial and underwater footage of Panama’s breaching humpbacks, manta rays, and dolphins scored to ‘New-Agey’ music.  Very nice, indeed, and I must say, much more interesting than yet another round of “Japan Goes to the Movies” (aka, “Safety at Sea”).  We’ve been shown the same, tired film depicting the “101 Ways Japan Hates Sea Shepherd” for over three years now.  And, I understand, we’ll be forced to endure yet another session.  At this point, it’s beginning to feel like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Really, Japan?  It’s time for new material, gentlemen.  Somebody needs to tell the Japanese Commissioner that he’s really jumped the shark in the film area.

In typical IWC fashion, we’ve accomplished ten minutes of introductions followed by a thirty minute coffee break, which will inevitably run for forty minutes.  I predict impending disaster; there’s only so much that 350 over-caffeinated delegates and observers with full bladders can accomplish.