The International Whaling Commission was established in 1946, "to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry."
In recent years, the IWC has evolved with more conservation goals in mind, and an increased effort on protecting whales will be discussed at the IWC's 62nd annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco, June 21-25, 2010. Here are the latest updates about the meeting.
The proposal was discussed largely behind closed doors this week, and it was announced that a consensus hadn't been reached. The agenda item was officially closed this afternoon by the Commission Vice-Chair, Anthony Liverpool of Antigua and Barbuda. This officially kills the compromise - good news to some, not to others, and the lives of thousands of whales still hang in the balance as several countries (including Iceland, Norway, and Japan) will continue to hunt whales, even while a 1986 moratorium on whaling is still in place.
The IWC adopted a proposal from Greenland to hunt 9 humpbacks and 10 fin whales (both considered endangered species) in 2011-2012, for subsistence whaling purposes. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has provided evidence, however, that the meat is being sold in restaurants and grocery stores - which is against the whaling exemption for subsistence whaling. If whales are hunted under a subsistence whaling quota, the meat cannot be commercially sold.
In its day 3 proceedings, the IWC heard a report from Japan on the escalating activity from the Sea Shepard Conservation Society against Japanese whaling vessels in the Southern Ocean. The IWC noted it has strongly condemned this dangerous activity.
In an informative blog post, Cheryl McCormick from the American Cetacean Society described Japan's presentation. She noted that the bar was continually being raised on activities in the Southern Ocean due to the Whale Wars TV show, and wondered how long it would be before someone was seriously injured, or killed, as a result.
After 2 days of discussion, International Whaling Commission delegates did not reach agreement on the "draft consensus decision" - a proposal that would allow Japan to resume whaling in its coastal waters, and reduce catches of whales in the Southern Ocean. The proposal is still on the table and could still be up for discussion until it is officially closed the agenda.
Whaling Proposal to Be Discussed at Annual IWC Meeting - June 20, 2010
A working group of the IWC has been charged with coming up with a proposal that would allow the IWC to address the "major major problems it faces," which include catch limits for whales and international trade in whale products. The group's goal was to reach a consensus, which has not happened, so it put together a document , a "proposed consensus decision" that will be discussed at the IWC meeting.
Components of the proposal include retaining the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling and establishing catch limits for whales that will reduce catches over 10 years. Indigenous subsistence whaling will still be allowed. A controversial action allows Japan to hunt in its coastal waters, but reduces their allowed catch in the Southern Ocean.