Whales on the World Stage at IWC 63

by Phil Kline

July 7, 2011

Next week I will be traveling to the Isle of Jersey for the annual meeting of the
International Whaling Commission (IWC). Whales, whale conservation, and whale hunting will once again be on the world stage.

At last year’s IWC meeting we successfully defeated a proposal that would have restarted commercial whaling with the IWC’s blessing. My thanks to all of you who took action last year. Prior to last year’s IWC meeting President Obama was contacted by 1.5 million US citizens asking him to direct our U.S. delegation to change course and oppose all commercial whaling – the long held U.S. position. President Obama heard your voices with the U.S. once again opposing all commercial whaling.

Also at the time of last year’s IWC meeting The London Sunday Times, reveled from an undercover sting they orchestrated, what many of us had suspected for a long time – Japan has routinely bribed commissioners for their votes to support Japan’s long term agenda of restarting commercial whaling. Read more or watch videos of IWC delegates entering into negotiations for their votes.

I’ve only mentioned last year’s history to put in context what we expect will be on the table at next week’s meeting. As illustrated by the vote buying scandal it is obvious to everyone that the IWC is dysfunctional, morally bankrupt and in need of serious reform.

The needed reforms go way beyond just the vote buying issue but also include allowing civil society (NGOs) meaningful participation in IWC meetings, along with the timely release of scientific documents. The United Kingdom (UK) has put forth a proposal that would change the IWC’s Rules of Procedure fixing these systemic problems.

Last week our U.S. IWC delegation held a public listening session to discuss the U.S. positions for the upcoming IWC meeting. Ms. Monica Medina (NOAA) our current IWC commissioner led this meeting. Commissioner Medina told everyone that the U.S. will work hard to recapture our long tradition of the U.S. being a whale conservation world leader. She also said that reforming the IWC is a priority for the U.S. and that the U.S. will support the UK’s proposal to reform the IWC.

As they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” This year, I hope that Greenpeace will be able to work with our U.S. delegation along with other whale conservation minded countries to move these much needed reforms forward. I’ll let you know next week from the Isle of Jersey what our U.S. delegation is doing (or not) for the conservation of the world’s whales.

Phil Kline

By Phil Kline

Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.

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