Tuesday, June 08, 2010


The Chairman of the International Whaling Commission, Cristian Maquieira has written an interesting piece on the BBC Green Room. Titled "Decision time for whale conservation", the piece published yesterday evening focusses on the package deal under consideration in the next two weeks at the meeting of the Whaling Commission, which I will be attending.

I picked up a few interesting sentences from Maquieira's piece:

"What we are seeking by bringing all whaling under the control of the IWC is to reduce significantly the number of whales killed and to promote whale conservation, especially of the most endangered species and including support for whale sanctuaries."

Support for whale sanctuaries is good and essential. Currently Japanese whaling operations are taking place within the boundaries of the Southern Ocean sanctuary. Bringing an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean is certainly the first key to turning the Agadir negotiation into a sucessful outcome.

[See my own BBC op-ed on this subject, last year. The situation has no changed much, except that it's hard to conceive that a decision could be postponed yet again this month]

"It is now time for governments to speak together about what they are ready to achieve collectively. The lively discussion that has ensued since the vice-chair and I issued our proposal is exactly what we wanted and what we expected."

With different words, Maquieira is in some way saying something similar to what I said in my own op-ed published by EFE this week: the 22nd April proposal tabled by Maquieira and his Co-Chair caused the perfect storm. It is now up to the crew on board the IWC vessel to navigate carefully in choppy sea, stay on course, and avoid a collision. And also to make sure that they reach port while the tide is high. After this month's meeting, it will be low tide, and it would be much more difficult to navigate safely. The willingness of all, but first and foremost Japan and the other two whaling countries, to be smooth is another key to success in Agadir.

"In the 21st Century, international policy cannot be well-informed and effective without public accountability and the engagement of civil society. If any of the different stakeholders feel we have not given them a fair hearing, we are bound for failure".

Right. Our friends from the environmental and animal welfare NGOs will like that. But Civil Society is not a monolithic entity. The representatives of the whalers are also part of it. And the degree to which they're willing to be reasonable and stop putting in a corner the governments to which they belong will be another key to the success of Agadir. Or to its failure.

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