Sunday, June 27, 2010

When the dust settles

I arrived home last night after two weeks in Morocco at the IWC conference.

I recommend the commentary published in the New York Times Environment blog; I agree with every word in it. "What is certain is that the ocean’s largest mammals are no better protected now than they were before the meeting."

I'm sure that as the dust settles, we'll find more commentaries of that kind. I find it hard to understand why some environmentalists celebrate an outcome that means Japan, Iceland and Norway, the three whaling countries have gone home with the assurance that they can continue whaling as much as they want, when and where they want with no international control or restrictions.

Richard Black of the BBC reported in his last entry two nights ago that Japan had been ready to accept a limit of 150 minke whales for its annual whale catches in Antarctica. Of course it is 150 too many. But it is also reasonable to say that compared to the self-allocated "scientific research sampling" of 935 minkes whales and 50 endangered fin whales (and possibly 50 additional humpback whales), it would have meant progress regardless of whether you care because of animal welfare, enviornmental or international governance concerns (or all three together). It is unclear whether 150 minkes would have been the virtual zero the US and other delegations were talking about to help Japan save face before they could stop high seas whaling altogether for economic reasons. But it was certainly closer to it than 935 minke and 50 fin whales.

The young Japanese man with me on the photo is Junichi Sato of Greenpeace-Japan. He told his compelling story and shared his viewpoint with Richard Black. I wish everyone among those who stand for the moratorium had listened to Junichi.

Japan was also ready to accept the clause that would have restricted to domestic markets the consumption of whale meat and other whale products. This would have been a fatal blow to Iceland's whale meat export market entirely dependent on Japan. Iceland announced last week that in the light of the failure of IWC negotiations they would send their fleet this week-end to start killing fin whales.

Joji Morishita, Japan's chief negotiator told me on Friday that for Japan a new period of reflection was starting. I hope that everyone reflects.

[With eleven entries, my daily Agadir blog published by the Spanish Agency EFE is now completed, but will remain online at least for some time. Spanish readers can click here to retrieve it]

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