IWC64 Update

Against the power of the US government, whale defending organizations and their governments were able to get a country-by-country vote in the bundled aboriginal whaling quotas for Russia/US/Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). The US expected their proposal to pass by consensus, meaning there would be no vote as long as no one raised objections. However, there were many objections, especially from the Latin American countries who are working to protect ecosystems and species.

Though this may sound like a small victory, it has changed the nature of how future aboriginal whaling proposals will be handled. Refer to our earlier posts about “bundling” and how the US uses it to hide its unqualified domestic proposals for passage without scrutiny and deliberation. The US Makah tribe’s proposal as well as SVG’s are hiding in the “bundle.” Because it was an all-or-nothing proposal, several countries voted for the bundle even though they were highly critical of SVG. The US appears to have smothered all concerns about the Makah hunt and yesterday avoided answering a question about the legal status of the hunt directly. The Makah hunt is currently prohibited by the courts.

One after the other, commissioners criticised the bundling technique the US used. Ending the practice of bundling is one of our primary goals here. We worked with Latin, US, and other national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to get the bundled proposal “unbundled.” Though we did not get unbundling for this year’s aboriginal whaling proposal, we came close. There were last minute changes of “no heart.” It is unlikely the US will propose a bundle again, but this year we narrowly missed blocking it entirely.

Final vote:

In favour of passing the Russia/US/SVG bundled proposal:
48 yes
10 no
2 abstained (Monaco/India)
1 did not show up to vote.

We needed just 6 more votes to stop the Russia/US/SVG bundled proposal.
Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand abandoned their support for whales on this vote, and sided with the US consistently.

Internet connections are currently difficult due to storms. Our report on Greenland’s commercialized aboriginal whaling hunt is coming next.

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