Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIII · Isle of Jersey, United Kingdom · No. 2 · Tuesday July 12, 2011

Acrobat .pdf of issue No. 2

What Japan Fisheries Agency Isn’t Saying

Yesterday, the Japan Fisheries Agency once again made its annual plea to the IWC asking for commercial whale quotas for killing minke, sei, and sperm whales, as well as many many dolphins within the coastal waters of Japan. Each year brings a new plea, and new reasons why Japan’s few coastal whaling towns want a quota to kill.  This year’s new excuse: the devastating tsunami that wreaked havoc with many of Japan’s northern ports. But here is what the Japan Fisheries Agency is not telling anyone: The tsunami swept tons of pollutants into Japan’s waters.  Repeated testing of dolphin and whale meat by Japanese scientists has shown that such meat contains levels…
> Read more

Why Do They Hate US?

Our roving correspondent set out to find out why the US delegation is reviled by most NGOs in attendance at this year’s IWC meeting in Jersey. After a series of interviews, the following reasons became apparent: Last year. Need we say more? At the “like-minded” meeting ahead of this IWC, the US delegation only told Chile and New Zealand about their proposed “Future of the IWC” Resolution. The US delegation dumped four extensive and complicated Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling documents on delegates the night before the Committee meeting. The US delegation told France not to offer an IWC resolution on marine debris. Why? Because it would jeopardize consensus at this meeting. It is…
> Read more

Monaco Calls on UN to Protect Whales, Dolphins

On June 20th, Monaco’s IWC delegate Frédéric Briand called upon the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to give permanent protection to all whales and dolphins on the high seas. Briand noted that “the overwhelming majority of cetacean populations lack coordinated arrangements for their global safeguard and management.” “We call therefore on the international community to adopt a collective policy, in conformity with the precautionary provisions of UNCLOS and other relevant international law, to ensure full and permanent protection for cetaceans on the high seas.” Briand concluded: “Marine migratory species of cetaceans, all 76 of them, are a major component of the world ocean. By definition they do…
> Read more

Welcome to the Dominican Republic

Welcome to the Dominican Republic, the IWC’s newest member, that has joined as a conservation-minded nation with the Latin American bloc. This isn’t the only brush with marine mammal politics that the DM has had. Three years ago, the government refused to allow Ocean World, a massive wagering and aquarium complex, to import dolphins (the Taiji Twelve) caught in the bloody drive hunts in Taiji, Japan. Environmentalists both inside and outside the Republic urged the government to reject the Taiji Twelve, as such acquisition by Ocean World would represent a major subsidy of the Taiji drive hunts, depicted in the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove. Ocean World has subsequently vented its wrath…
> Read more

Lest We Forget: The Corruption Continues

Last year in Morocco, ECO ran the following article on the front page of our last issue. It’s a timely reminder of what the IWC has not addressed: Over the past three years of secret negotiations, whenever IWC delegates have popped out to say something to the media, we have all heard a variety of words to describe the status of the Commission. We are told the IWC is “dysfunctional.” We are told the IWC is “broken.” The IWC, we are assured, is “at an impasse.” None of these words are an accurate description of the problem. As ECO has noted repeatedly, there is a much better word to describe the situation.…
> Read more

Human Health Risks

A coalition of environmental and animal welfare organizations, including Campaign Whale, Animal Welfare Institute, OceanCare and several others, have issued a report, Recent Developments on Human Health Risks from Consumption of Cetacean Products. Whales and dolphins eat at the top of the oceanic food chain, so contaminants such as mercury, PCBs and pesticides are concentrated, often at very high levels exceeding international health standards. Recent studies of indigenous people in the Arctic, for example, show very serious levels, with some populations that eat marine mammals showing concentrations of toxic PCBs two to ten times higher than populations that eat a more modern diet. While some health authorities have responded to these threats…
> Read more

Tribute to Robbins Barstow

Michael Tillman read this moving tribute to Dr. Robbins Barstow, everybody’s favorite volunteer director of the Connecticut Cetacean Society (now Cetacean Society International) during the IWC Conservation Committee meeting last week: Mr. Chairman, the US delegation asked for this opportunity to bring to the attention of the Conservation Committee the recent passing of Dr. Robbins Barstow, one of the most significant voices for whale conservation during the 1980s and 1990s. As a long-serving member of the US Delegation during those decades, Robbins shall forever be remembered for coming up with the idea that whales were more valuable alive as subjects of whale-watching and other non-lethal uses than dead as commercial products. Foreseeing…
> Read more

Oh, Denmark!

Dr Frédéric Briand, IWC Commissioner for Monaco, and representing his country at the UN, recently dropped a bomb in New York, the explosion of which will surely reverberate in Jersey. Dr Briand proposed to a Committee that is considering possible changes in or interpretations of, and the implementation, of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He proposed that the UN enact or recommend the complete and permanent protection of all Highly Migratory whales and dolphins when they are in the High Seas. That is all marine cetaceans except the harbour porpoise and a few other related small species that dwell in inshore waters. Monaco got wide support for this…
> Read more

Where Are They Now?

A large number of countries have failed to make an appearance this year at the IWC meeting. Many are past client nations of Japan, dependent on Japanese taxpayers paying their travel costs and IWC dues (not to mention, according to news reports last year, cash payments to Commissioners and prostitutes).  The matter directly impinges on the IWC budget, part of today’s discussion. The never-shy Commissioner from St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Daven Joseph, made an impassioned plea to the IWC yesterday, claiming that many of these delegations were unable to get visas to come to Jersey for the meeting. Mr. Joseph suggested no action be taken by the IWC until Thursday, in…
> Read more

Dolphin Kill Ends in Solomon Islands

For the first time in 450 years, dolphins have not been killed in the Solomons in the past year. On the island of Malaita, three villages have for decades been engaged in dolphin hunting. The meat was eaten, and the teeth have been used as a form of money. But the villagers told Earth Island representatives that the dolphins were getting harder to find, and the fishermen had to paddle out farther and farther to find them and haul them back to the island. In April 2010, Earth Island staffer in the Solomon Islands, Lawrence Makili, along with Mark Berman, and Ric O’Barry, traveled to two of the villages and reached an…
> Read more