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Whaling Body Must Reject New Role

Whaling Body Must Reject New Role And Mysterious Financers

Washington, DC, 21 May 2003 The International Whaling Commission (IWC) should reject a move by eighteen of its members to redefine the body’s conservation role at its forthcoming annual meeting in Berlin, according to Eugene Lapointe, a former Secretary General of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The resolution submitted by countries such as the USA, UK, France and Germany calls for a new Conservation Committee to develop the conservation agenda of the IWC.

Mr. Lapointe, President of IWMC World Conservation Trust, said: “After ten years of discussion, the IWC has still failed to come up with an agreed system for managing whale stocks, which is its core purpose. The establishment of another internal tier of bureaucracy at this time would distract from that process and would only further delay the completion of this vital work.”

The IWC was established by the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (1946) and its purpose is to “ provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.” Since agreeing a new ultra-conservative catch quota system for whales in 1994, the IWC has been debating the overall framework of monitoring and enforcement – the Revised Management Scheme (RMS) – under which it will operate.

Mr. Lapointe added: “The IWC is first and foremost a management body, in which conservation is one key element. It is essential for the long-term viability of whale populations that the RMS is completed before new projects are embarked upon.”

The draft resolution (now posted on the IWC website http://www.iwcoffice.org) also opens the door for the IWC to operate in the future like a campaign group through the proposed establishment of a trust fund that would finance its conservation work. Most of the large environmental campaign groups today are backed by large donations, mostly from foundations in the USA, and most of them, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Greenpeace strongly support the draft resolution.

Mr. Lapointe said: “You have to wonder who will be calling the shots if the IWC is financed by a series of “behind the scenes” American benefactors. The original whaling treaty gives the executive power to member states but this resolution would transfer it to a mysterious group of patrons and the unaccountable campaign groups they champion. The IWC cannot subordinate itself to outsiders. The IWC is not a multinational environmental NGO and any attempts to transform it into one should be firmly resisted.”

IWMC World Conservation Trust supports the use of conservation in the work of the IWC but believes that whales will only be protected in the long-term once an internationally agreed management system is in place. By endlessly delaying the introduction of the RMS and by continuing to prohibit the hunting of even small numbers of abundant whale species, the IWC is undermining its own authority and is likely to collapse. This would create a situation where no viable international regulation of whaling could exist. IWMC fears that transferring financial control to a small group of powerful outsiders would hasten this process.

The passing of the resolution in Berlin could also have serious consequences for the continued participation of the USA in the IWC. The original purpose of the IWC would have changed so fundamentally that the U.S. Senate may have to re-ratify the ICRW.

The IWMC World Conservation Trust is an international organization that promotes the Sustainable Use as a conservation mechanism, the protection of the sovereign rights of independent nations and the respect of diverse cultures and traditions. It is a non-profit body supported by donations.

Eugene Lapointe is President and Founder of IWMC World Conservation Trust Former Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from 1982 to1990

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