Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Two: What Happened on the Day of Nothingness

Report by Laurens De Groot

View on the delegations
View on the delegations

While the commission was meeting behind close doors, away from the nongovernmental organizations, public, and the media, Australia’s environmental minister arrived in Agadir, Morocco. And I must say he said some things that I actually quite liked. He stated that the so-called “scientific lethal research” should end and he pointed out that the ban on commercial whaling should never be compromised. It gets better: he burned down the proposal by WWF/Greenpeace/Pew to allow some commercial whaling, as you can see in today’s video blog. So fair is fair: kudos for minister Peter Garrett. Now let’s see if he lives up to his promises.

Meanwhile, the Japanese delegation was having an open house in their hotel rooms at the 5-star Atlantic Palace Hotel. All day long, delegates walked in and out to (receive their bribes) talk about potential deals on whaling. Thanks to some NGO’s that sincerely support Sea Shepherd, we had a beautiful view on the hotel rooms of the Japanese delegation. One of parties arriving were the delegates of St.Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean nation with very strong ties to the Japanese bribing matters. Needless to say they didn’t come just for a game of “Go.”

St.Kitts and Nevis visits JWA
St.Kitts and Nevis visits JWA

So tomorrow the meeting starts all over again. And where do the whales stand? The EU is likely to abstain from voting, which is quite remarkable. The EU has a complete stance against whaling. and normally it is required by a member state to defend a EU stance. This would be the case if whale protection would be called a conservation issue. However, the EU has found it’s own loophole by calling the conservation of the whales a fisheries issue, making it possible for the member states to abstain from voting. With 25 states abstaining from voting, there is a big chance the ban on whaling will be compromised. That’s one.

One the other hand, 17 pro-whaling nations were suspended and have no voting rights as they didn’t pay their annual fee. That’s one-fifth of the 88 IWC members, which could be a good thing for the whales. And on top of that, 200 scientists spoke out against commercial whaling: "The IWC must not undermine the conservation achievements of the last few decades by again endorsing commercial whaling," they said in a petition. "There is no evidence that any of the few populations and species known to be increasing have reached, or are anywhere near, the levels that might justify non-zero catch limits."

So there is good and bad news, but the worst is that the Japanese Whaling Association (JWA) is still chucking money at the poor countries, jeopardizing any hope in which the anti-whaling countries can save whales.

One of the delegates of the JWA is Glen Inwood, and he is here in Agadir lobbying. Inwood was also responsible for illegally hiring a plane in Australia to find the Steve Irwin so a spy-ship could follow Sea Shepherd, preventing it from catching up with the whaling fleet during our last Antarctica campaign.  Perhaps you want to advise him on the whaling matters: or maybe better, just give him a buzz on his cell: +64 21 890 868.  I bet he’d love the attention.