Monday, June 21, 2010

International Whaling Commission: crucial annual meeting underway

Without too much fanfare and media scrutiny, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has been holding their annual meeting in Morocco for the past several weeks. The meeting began on May 27 with "pre-meetings" and scientific committee meetings while the formal commission meeting began today and will run through June 25th.

There are both whale conservation organizations and commercial whaling groups in attendance - each making their case for either the greater protection of whales or the maintaining (or increase) of current catch quotas. Several nations including Japan and Norway have expressed a desire to resume full-scale whaling operations. Having been shown on the worldwide stage of public opinion that their "whaling for scientific research" to be largely a farce, Japan has, in particular, been rumored to favor major expansion of its whaling activities.

We'll have to wait and see what the final outcome of the IWC meeting will produce. The petitions have all been signed, the key players are there, and the backroom political leveraging, I am sure, is in full swing - so all we can do is hold our breath and hope that reason prevails in determining the future of what is, by today's standards, an archaic activity and an ironic reminder of the consequences of dependence on a limited resource - once it was whale oil, now it's crude oil.

My brother Chris alerted me to a clever and interesting interactive article in the BBC News that lists a variety of whale species and then provides key information as to their size, range, and current population and threatened status (Click on the image of a particular whale species and up pops a photo and key data). I don't know how long the article will be available in the BBC archive, so take a look now to get a handle on some of the key cetacean species that are of concern with many conservation groups.

And let's cross our fingers and flippers and hope for the best for earth's dwindling cetaceans.

Read more about the IWC's meeting agenda.
Read the BBC interactive article.

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