Sunday, June 20, 2010

Steve Irwin not welcome in Morocco

Laurens de Groot reports from the IWC in Agidir, Morocco.

While Sea Shepherd crew on board the Steve Irwin are upholding international conservation law in the Mediterranean Sea to protect critically endangered Blue fin tuna, a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) takes place just a few hundred kilometres away from the conservation battlefields.

The survival of whales are at stake once again, but this year it is more frightening for the whales than it has been for years.

The setting: Agadir, Morocco, North-Africa.

The players: Men and women in fancy suits, who have flown business class on tax payers money, staying in 5-star hotels and some we know, enriching themselves on bribes and prostitutes.

The topic: Killing whales.  In the United Nations year of biodiversity, three rogue nations are pressuring the world to allow commercial whaling, even in the Southern Whale Sanctuary. Japan, Norway and Iceland.

Sea Shepherd is rejecting the IWC as a corrupt and irrelevant body that has lost all credibility as an organization responsible for the conservation of the world’s whales. Maybe it’s a little bit naive, but after the failure of the climate meeting in Copenhagen and the disastrous CITES-meeting, I was hoping most NGO’s attending the IWC meeting in Morocco, would feel the same. But during an NGO meeting a day before the summit, I was sad to hear that none of the NGO’s were willing to make a strong stand against the corrupt IWC.

It’s interesting to note that I was lucky to even make it to Morocco, let alone this meeting, because it looks like Sea Shepherd crew are not welcome into the North-African country:

“When I passed immigration at the border, an officer was checking a list of undesirable people”, says Sue Miller-Taoi representing Samoa. “Leading the list was the name ‘Steve Irwin’, clearly the officials here don’t know that refers to a ship.”

Fortunately Sea Shepherd crew have made it to Agadir and I am sure that that late Steve Irwin would have been here to raise a voice for the whales if he was still alive. Sea Shepherd named their flagship Steve Irwin after this Australian legend for his incredible efforts towards conservation.

Whaling should be banned and there should never be a compromise on allowing commercial whaling in order to save whales. What if the whales were humans? Would you allow three rogue nations to kill a few in order to save others? It’s the worst solution for whales you can imagine. Whaling is unethical and barbaric and doesn’t belong in the 21st century. Acknowledging the credibility of the IWC is saying you are ok with bribes and corruption and that Japanese delegates paying for prostitutes in order to win votes is acceptable. One NGO voice stated: “We shouldn’t be too hard on the corrupt countries as they will stay closer to Japan and they will never change their vote.”  Well…they won’t anyway.

I might not be the smartest person in world but I think there is one thing easy rule in politics. As long as you bring nothing to the bargaining table, the party that writes the biggest check gets the vote. And that’s how it will turns out. Countries like Iceland, Norway and Japan have been looking for years for new opportunities to utilize whales. According to a report by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society these countries are secretly looking into options to use whale oil for pharmaceutical practices, use whale cartridge for health supplements and use whale blubber as fishmeal or to feed cattle. They will get their votes no matter what the NGO’s do.

I must say all this friendly NGO crowd has great intentions and they seem to be noble people, but as long as Japan is allowed to bribe its way through these meetings the IWC doesn’t…no let’s make it personal…the whales don’t stand a change.

So what about a solution? Here are my thoughts. The NGO’s should reject the IWC - yes, put your job on the line, and once they got out of this ridiculous puppet theatre  they can spend their money on ships, find some crew, start upholding international conservation law and kick the whaling nations out of the whale sanctuaries of this world. Pretty simple and I admit…it sounds a bit familiar J.

Laurens de Groot

Link to the report: