Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
Today I'll be doing my first attempt at live blogging. The IWC plenary session is due to get underway 30 minutes from now. This first morning will basically set the tone for the rest of the meeting. News reports out today suggest that neither the pro-sustainable use side or the anti-whaling side is confident they have a voting majority. We'll know shortly which nations have actually showed up.
The first item on the agenda is just some formalities, with perhaps some statements by new members.
The second item is the adoption of the agenda, which I imagine should be straightforward.
The third item is the issue of protest activities in the Antarctic. Japan is seeking either a resolution or a recommendation from the IWC here, but given the highly controversial nature of the protests, even some anti-whaling nations may side with Japan on the issue.
The fourth item on the agenda, later in the day, is regarding secret ballots. I'm picking that this vote will be the one that tells us how the rest of the meeting will play out. If secret ballots are adopted, the meeting will likely go very much in favour of the sustainable use nations.
Stay tuned for more! I'll continue to update this article throughout the evening (JST)[22:45 JST]
There have been suggestions today that Guatemala will not participate at the IWC meeting, this year, although they have recently joined. We'll know shortly exactly what the situation is. We can expect to see no shows from both camps.[22:55 JST]
Switzerland's name has been bandied about as a nation that is in the middle ground at the IWC. Last year however, they voted against Japan on all but one issue (and on that one issued they abstained). Nonetheless, the Swiss maintain that they are happy to talk to both sides
Just waiting for the live feed
to come up. In the meantime, Joji Morishita spoke with Australian media today
The proceedings are now underway. The St. Kitts Prime Minister is making his welcoming address. He sounds rather nervous, but is stressing the need to respect different cultures and viewpoints.[23:26 JST]
A band is now treating the audience to some Caribbean music. It's fabulous :-)[23:28 JST]
As the band wraps up, I'll add a link to another interview with Joji Morishita
The St Kitts commissioner, Cedric Liburd, is making an eloquent speech urging the IWC to ensure that the meeting offers benefits through development for the nations of the Caribbean, which are gradually adjusting to a globalized world. He is stressing that in the Caribbean, they have more sea than land, and that this is where people are looking to for potential sustainable development opportunities through effective management of oceanic resources.[23:38 JST]
Cedric Liburd is now explicitly rejecting the allegations of bribery to the meeting. He is urging the IWC to get past the propaganda, and work together through dialogue.[23:40 JST]
That's it for now folks - they are breaking for coffee!! Come back in 35 minutes time. Go watch the Soccer World Cup or something :-)[23:58 JST]
The Opening statement of Japan's Commissioner to the IWC
) has been released to the media.[00:19 JST]
OK, just waiting for the end of the break... How much coffee do they need?[00:28 JST]
Underway again. The US was decided upon as the Vice Chair (I believe). Next come the opening statements from new members, if they wish.[00:30 JST]
The Mali delegate is making his opening statement, in French. Everyone has pulled out their headsets. This would be interesting to understand, as Mali is the 2nd of the two landlocked nations believed to be likely to vote with the pro-sustainable use nations. Can any of my readers summarize this? This must be Dr. H. Coulibaly
. Kindly summarized by isanatori: "Roughly summarised, the representative from Mali recalled what was the orginal objectives of the ICRW - conservation of whales and sustainable use of this ressources - and appealed to all the member states to respect it."[00:38 JST]
Now the Israel delegate is speaking. She is saying "protect" quite a lot.[00:41 JST]
Israel is done. Basically they just want to participate at the IWC for protection of whales. Next is Cambodia.[00:43 JST]
The alternate commissioner for Cambodia noted that Cambodia is dependant on the use of natural resources. He is commenting on the dysfunctional nature of the IWC. He is stating his belief that decisions be based on scientific research. He states that Cambodia is confident that the IWC can move forwards.[00:45 JST]
The Marshall Islands is now speaking. The delegate is stating that his country has carefully considered it's joining of the IWC, noting the cost as one issue preventing this. But given that they are an island nation, they feel that they can not relax under their coconut trees while decisions that may effect them may be being made in international forums. The Marshall Islands are interested in fisheries resources, and are interested in conservation of all marine resources, for the sustainable development of their country and people.[00:49 JST]
Next on the agenda - voting credentials. Costa Rico, Gambia, Peru, Togo, and maybe one other nation have had their voting rights suspended - I think I missed one other nation there - who was it? Maybe it was Kenya, as they never turn up to vote either. We'll try to get this info up later.[00:56 JST]
Just going through some boring administrative stuff right now.[01:00 JST]
Adoption of the Agenda. Ian Campbell is complaining about the new item of "normalization" of the IWC, added at the request of Japan. Campbell is asking that the agenda item be renamed "modernization" of the IWC, noting that much has changed since 1946. Henrik Fischer is disagreeing, but passing the floor to Japan. Japan has responded that it will explain the meaning of "normalization" under that part of the agenda. Japan notes that it can't agree to change the wording to "modernization", if the intended meaning is "total prohibition" [of whaling]. Brazil is speaking now as well. Henrik Fischer is noting that no nations have expressed concerns about the naming of this item prior to today. He is asking everyone to just accept it as is so that the meeting can proceed.[01:08 JST]
New Zealand now speaking to Japan's point on the agenda item on small ceteceans. This is Sir Geoff Palmer. Gosh, he's balded quite a lot since I last saw him. Blah blah blah. He's going on for ages - Japan has called for a point of order. Henrik Fischer is clearly annoyed already. Fischer is of the opinion that as there is not consensus on the issue of small cetaceans, so hopes that the meeting can proceed, noting Japan's position, as has been done in previous years. Geoff Palmer has shut up now. Back to Japan.[01:16 JST]
Japan is calling for a vote on the deletion of the "actions arising" agenda item regarding small cetaceans, as the IWC is a democratic organization. The right to delete an agenda item is (apparently) a right of the ICRW signatories.[01:19 JST]
Henrik Fischer is going to make a ruling, noting that he is in a prisoner's dilemma. He is allowing Japan to put the question to a vote.[01:23 JST]
After some confusion, Japan is happy to vote on the proposal. However, they wish to explain the proposal before the vote is taken. As soon as he starts to give his explanation, the Australian delegation have interuppted him. The Japanese delegate (Joji Morishita) has a wry grin on his face. Australia is complaining that the vote should be taken immediately, without an explanation from Japan, based on the rules.[01:26 JST]
Henrik Fischer is putting his foot down now. Lots of time has been wasted on this. Brazil is complaining again, but now Japan is again with the floor to explain. Japan notes that they are happy to discuss matters of substance, but is not interested in arguing over procedural matters. Morishita is stating that Japan's position is basically the same as previous years, except this year they are only proposing the single item on "actions arising". Japan's position is that the global IWC organization is not the right place to discuss the management of regional small cetacean species. Management is neccessary, but other forums should be used to persue such issues. In the past, Japan has received resolutions telling them what to do in their 200m EEZ with regard to these species. He notes that only Japan was targetted with these resolutions. He notes that Japan's position is that as the IWC can't manage global species, it shouldn't try to manage small cetaceans. Morishita hopes to have an open vote on the issue now. He hopes (with a smile) that nations will not do "automatic voting", but actually think before doing so.
Henrik is now allowing some more speakers some brief time, but isn't going to let this drag on into the afternoon. Britain is talking a load of nonsense. Japan only asked for deletion of "actions arising", yet Britain is talking as if Japan has asked to delete small cetacean issues from the agenda entirely. He is now regurgitating the same issues that have been discussed in previous years.[01:39 JST]
Only 5 more speakers on this issue. Blah blah blah. Uh oh - Geoff Palmer has got the floor again. ... Phew... wasn't too long after all. Brazil and the Netherlands are messing with Henrik Fischer now. He notes that he addressed their point 45 minutes ago already. Now the Netherlands is trying to say that they wanted to speak to the ruling 45 minutes ago. He says that the meeting staff saw this. But the meeting staff member stated she didn't recall any such thing. Henrik has reasserted that his ruling was not challenged originally.[01:55 JST]
Almost an hour of time wasted now. Japan maintains that it would like to vote on the proposal.[02:02 JST]
Close, but 30-32 against Japan's proposal, 1 abstention! The anti-whalers have this initial vote. The anti-whaling bloc got a vote from Belize that they would note have been expecting - Belize did not vote last year. Oman also supported the usual 30 anti-whaling nations, while Denmark's abstention also meant a lost vote for the pro-conservation camp. Senegal and Guatemala were not present for the voting.
With this first vote down, they have broken for lunch.[02:17 JST]
Just looking back on how the votes stack up
, the sustainable use camp lost two potential votes due to The Gambia and and Togo not having their fees paid (I believe this was the reason). Guatemala is not present, and Senegal did not vote (not sure whether they are actually present or not). That alone cuts the 37 votes down to 33. Here, Belize also voted against the motion, which would have been somewhat unexpected. Oman displays quite independant voting habits, and voted against the motion in this particular case. And additionally, Denmark's abstention left the pro-conservation countries with only 30 votes, while the anti-whaling nations' votes were boosted up to 32. Slight voting fluctuations are not unusual. Last year, the anti-whaling side had votes ranging in the range from 29 t o31. The upcoming secret ballot vote passing is looking unlikely at this stage however.
This post is getting rather long now, so I'll resume again in a new post
after the lunch break.