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Last month Jenifer Longsdale from the Environmental Investigation Agency gave us a talk on the proposed changes to the present whaling ban. Here are her comments on how the conference went and what is needed to be done over the next few years. There are also links to press releases issued on each of the 5 days during the conference.

"Essentially, the package proposal on the Future of the IWC that would have allowed IWC endorsed catch limits for Japan, Norway and Iceland was rejected because after quite intense discussion, it was clear that few countries apart from New Zealand, US and Sweden were enthusiastic about it. This included the whaling nations. Korea quite rightly pointed out that whilst it has been complying with the moratorium on commercial whaling since it was implemented in 1986 despite wishing to resume commercial whaling, it would not have been rewarded IWC endorsed catch limits. Meanwhile Japan, Norway and Iceland, despite their ignoring the moratorium and carrying out commercial whaling justified by loopholes in the IWC Convention, would have been. It was a relief that the proposal was rejected and we now have a year or so of reflection to decide what to do next. From our point of view this is the best result because whaling in these three countries is on the decline and the proposal would have given their whaling industries a lifeline boost.

We were disappointed that Denmark succeeded in its request for a quota of 9 humpback whales for Greenland (who it represents) but in terms of numbers, there will be a voluntary reduction of 9 fin whales taken so I suppose the cruelty transfers from one group of whales to another rather than increasing.

Australia was very active in promoting development of the IWC’s conservation agenda and the need to address the threats to cetaceans from environmental changes. Minister Peter Garrett hosted 2 very interesting receptions highlighting their work. Generally there was good stuff on focusing the work of the IWC on the conservation agenda. I was particularly pleased with the report of the Workshop on Entanglement which has a welfare focus because of the suffering that results from entanglement. It can be seen on the IWC website documents list as Document IWC/62/15. It was a jointly hosted by Norway, Australia and the US and demonstrates the practical effort that can be done to address such threats and the need for international cooperation regardless of views on commercial whale killing.

Whilst it was a difficult and frustrating meeting, we come away relieved but also aware that there is, a lot of work to do in the coming year."

Is killing whales the best way to save them?

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