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 LXIV · Panama City, Panama · No. 1 · Monday July 2, 2012
Acrobat .pdf of issue

Sanctuary: Mind the Gap

The IWC member nations Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are again asking the IWC this year to approve a South Atlantic Sanctuary for whales, filling in the area of the South Atlantic Ocean not already covered by the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and the Indian Ocean Sanctuary. All whaling would be prohibited in this Sanctuary.

“We propose that all countries continue to declare their waters as a sanctuary for whales, to create a great corridor and whale sanctuary in the Americas. From Alaska to Chile and from Canada to Argentina, including the waters of the Caribbean,” said Gabriel Despaigne, of the Green Association of Panama, an NGO.

Last year Japan blocked any vote on the Sanctuary proposal towards the end of the IWC meeting in Jersey by the unprecedented action of leaving the Plenary Session along with a contingent of Japanese client countries, depriving the meeting of a quorum, and also raising the interesting question for the first time as to what a quorum of the IWC consists of?

Discussions have been ongoing as to how to constitute an IWC quorum, but the Latin American nations have been promised a vote on the Southern Atlantic Sanctuary as the first item of business in the Plenary Session (actually item 4.1 on the provisional Agenda).

“If the conservation of whales does not advance in this poor obsolete Commission, the region has legitimacy and political power to propose their own or international conservation framework or (develop) a regional treaty,” said Jose Truda of the Cetacean Conservation Center, an NGO based in Brazil and Argentina.