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26 Sep IWC Meeting Brazil – A Partners Perspective

WCA Partner Luena Ferandes from Instituto Baleia Jubarte (Humpback Whale Institute) of Brazil provides a summary of the recent International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Brazil.

‘Between the 4th and the 14th September 2018, the International Whaling Commission met at Florianopolis, Brazil, for its 67th Annual Meeting.

One of the proposals presented during the meeting was the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary – SAWS, co-sponsored by Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, South Africa and Uruguay.  It, was, unfortunately rejected once more by countries like Norway, Iceland and Japan, although obtaining the majority of votes (39 against 25).  However, it needed 75% of the votes to be approved and will be presented again in the next meeting. Instituto Baleia Jubarte and other organisations have been trying to establish this sanctuary for the past 20 years.

Despite this, there was great excitement when the “Florianopolis Declaration”, written by Instituto Baleia Jubarte, proposed by the Brazilian government and signed by seven other countries – Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru – was approved by 40 votes!  The Declaration will redirect the Commission’s priorities towards the conservation of whales and dolphins, focusing on themes like pollution, entanglement, ship strikes and the role of cetaceans in marine ecosystems, and removed any chances of the Japanese proposal to resume commercial whaling being approved.

The document “A collaborative Approach towards Preventing Ship Strikes in Brazil” was submitted to the Scientific Committee and is the first time a voluntary collaboration among stakeholders from industry, scientific and conservation communities has been presented to the IWC Scientific Committee and Plenary session. It reports on the Working Group on Ship Strike Prevention and Mitigation established in Brazil, to provide a positive framework to improve whale management and conservation on ship strikes and other issues, and welcomes collaboration from experts and stakeholders from around the world to advance its work and study further techniques and equipment for ship strike prevention.

The Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute (Instituto Baleia Jubarte) delegation. Left to right: Associate Researcher Dr. Mia Morete, President Eduardo Camargo and Director of Institutional Development José Truda Palazzo.
The Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute (Instituto Baleia Jubarte) delegation. Left to right: Associate Researcher Dr. Mia Morete, President Eduardo Camargo and Director of Institutional Development José Truda Palazzo.

Another important contribution was delivered by IBJ representative, José Truda Palazzo, on the importance of whale-watching tourism and the right of developing nations and their many stakeholders to the non-extractive use of whales and dolphins:

“It is proper and timely that a much larger array of businesses and community leaders in developing countries, which benefit from whale-watching, are given wide access to this forum.  Either being incorporated into government delegations or having their attendance facilitated otherwise.  Your decisions, Mr. Chair, affect coastal communities around the world who rely on healthy, abundant whale populations for their survival.  It is time that their voices are heard!”

The full intervention can be heard at Projeto Baleia Jubarte Facebook page here.

We are saddened that the SAWS proposal did not pass but we are reinvigorated by the support gained by the Florianopolis Declaration and will continue fighting for its establishment and the maintenance of the whaling moratorium indefinitely, for the sake of whale conservation and benefits for coastal peoples and the health of our planets oceans!

All meeting documents are available from IWC site:  https://portal.iwc.int/e/iwc67/documents

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