AWI IWC REPORT May 31, 2007

The third day was very long and ran late into the night. The Southern Atlantic Sanctuary proposal that had been held over from the previous day came up first. After further discussion, the proposed schedule amendment failed after a vote which required a three-fourth's majority. The next item was a proposal by Japan for a resumption of its Small Type Coastal Whaling for four Japanese towns. Japan has submitted similar proposals for the past two decades and this year had tailored its proposal to make it more palatable to the Commission. The proposal would involve a partial lifting of the moratorium on commercial whaling and would have significant ramifications for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Japan tried to argue that there was a parallel with its proposal and the whaling conducted by Aboriginal Subsistence Whalers. Not surprisingly the proposal resulted in a protracted debate and the item being held over until day four.

AWI's Susan Millward and Mark Palmer of Earth Island Institute - a Save Japan Dolphin Coalition partner with AWI - held a brief press conference during the lunch break. The press conference focused on the toxicity of Japanese small cetacean meat. Mr. Ric O'Barry was slated to speak at the press about the groups' work to expose this dangerous threat to Japanese consumers, but he had been barred from entering the venue building so had to conduct his half of it outside. The reason for his exclusion was not provided but could be because of a silent and peaceful protest during the St. Kitts meeting last year.

The afternoon session started with a return to the Danish proposal for aboriginal subsistence whaling quotas. During the discussion, some compromise language was offered with the withdrawal of humpback whales from the quota, but consensus still could not be reached and the item was tabled for later. Next up was scientific permits with a discussion on the scientific committee's review of the Japanese Antarctic lethal "research". New Zealand proposed a resolution asking Japan to halt the lethal aspects of its research program. Several countries spoke of the research as unnecessary and poor science while the pro-whaling nations defended Japan's lethal research. The proposal ultimately went to a vote which passed by simple majority.

A lengthy discussion on Safety at Sea issues followed which included debate about the activities of certain NGOs in the Antarctic during Japan's last whaling season. The Commission generally agreed that certain actions relating to obstruction and violence at sea to other vessels was inappropriate, and though the death of a crew member of the Japanese whaling ship was incorrectly attributed to the NGO actions, a resolution on the matter was passed by consensus.

The late evening session was dominated by discussion on a non-lethal use of whales resolution introduced by Argentina and a slew of other conservation-minded countries. Despite Japan's attempts to get a recognition of the lethal use of whales inserted into the resolution, the resolution passed.