IWC rejects commercial whaling bid
By Sarah Clarke
Posted June 24, 2010 08:08:00
Negotiations on the future of commercial whaling have collapsed, with pro- and anti-whaling nations unable to break a decades-long deadlock.
The defeat of the move to overturn a 24-year ban on commercial whaling at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference in Morocco was a victory for Australia’s anti-whaling stance.
Two days of private talks ended in stalemate after Australia and the Latin American nations argued the plan was flawed and dangerous.
New Zealand’s commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer backed the plan, but was unable to convince others in the anti-whaling camp to sign up.
“The gaps cannot at this time be bridged and the reason for that I think is obvious enough,” he said.
“There is an absence of political will to change sufficiently to bridge those gaps; there is an absence of political will to compromise. This is a matter of regret but it’s a fact.”
The deal on offer would have allowed Japan to resume limited commercial whaling if it agreed to cut its scientific quota in the Southern Ocean.
Australia has been the most vocal opponent. Environment Minister Peter Garrett hailed the decision as a victory.
“I don’t think it was a question of political will at all here, it was a question of the substance of the compromise that was in front of us,” he said.
“It’s very clear that there were a number of countries, not only Australia, that could not and would not accept the substance of that compromise.”
The agenda item, however, is still on the table and may be revived at next year’s IWC meeting.
Whaling nations will continue using loopholes in the moratorium to set their own quotas, killing whales for so-called scientific research.
Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare says there is no reason to celebrate today’s decision.
“Well, sadly, the reality in the water won’t change for whales,” he said.
“There’s a cooling off period for the bureaucrats at the IWC, but the whalers will remain in hot pursuit of their prey in the Southern Ocean, in the north Pacific and in the north Atlantic as well, with Iceland and Norway killing whales there.”
Darren Kindleysides from the Marine Conservation Society says the IWC still needs to be reformed.
“Now it’s time to throw the IWC a lifeline, so it can be reformed into a modern conservation body,” he said.