While the vote was 38 to 21 with two abstentions in favor of establishing a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary yesterday during the morning opening session of the IWC Plenary, the three-quarters majority was not met as required by the IWC rules, and the Sanctuary needs will remain unmet for now.
The usual suspects voted against the proposal, including Japan, Norway, Iceland, Korea, China, and Russia, with a number of small client nations of Japan making up the balance of the NO vote. Countries in the Caribbean made the ludicrous argument that the sponsors of the Sanctuary did not “consider the impacts on coastal countriesÓ, as if there would be any adverse impacts on Caribbean countries from a southern hemisphere Sanctuary.
Iceland and Norway intoned that there was “no scientific basis” for the Sanctuary, as if the decision to establish a Sanctuary to protect whales could be determined by the scientific method. This is a rather common abuse of the meaning of “science” that often occurs at the IWC, as Dr. Sidney Holt has often pointed out.
Many thanks to the sponsors of the Sanctuary: Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Uruguay, along with the strong support expressed by Australia, the EU, and many other countries. The grassroots activists of Latin America continue to show tremendous passion and creativity in supporting the Sanctuary, so we expect the proposal to return to the IWC when the Latin Americans can triumph in the future.