A special intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) closed today in Monaco without an agreement. The aim of the working group was to “make further progress” on a scheme scheme that, if agreed, will take the world significantly closer to the resumption of large- scale commercial whaling. The recommendations from the Monaco meeting will be published by the IWC Secretariat at the end of February and will be subject to approval at the IWC’s regular conference in July 2001, to be held in London.

According to the statement issued by the IWC following the meeting, “there was a valuable exchange of views and idea…but some fundamental differences remain.”

Norway’s Commissioner, reported in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten of 8th February, accused opponents of whaling of delaying the work.(1)

“This was not the impression of observers attending the meeting,” said John Frizell of Greenpeace International. “The supporters of whaling have always rejected international control on their activities.”

Details from the meeting will not be known until the end of February, when the IWC Secretariat will publish its report. Meeting participants are forbidden to comment on details of the meeting until the report is circulated.

The Revised Management Scheme (RMS) aims to establish a set of rules (including those covering inspection and observation) that would be used if the IWC agreed to allow countries to hunt whales for commercial purposes again. In the past, commercial whaling brought many whale populations to the brink of extinction – a fact which led the IWC to agree to an international moratorium on all commercial whaling, which has been in effect since 1986.(2)

“Commercial whaling should have no place as we go into the 21st century,” said Frizell. “A resumption of commercial whaling is nothing more than a gamble with the future of the whales. Greenpeace urges the government representatives at the IWC to change their focus away from the exploitation and toward the conservation of whales.”

John Frizell, Greenpeace International, or Luisa Colasimone,
Greenpeace Communication, mobile +31 6 21 29 69 20

(1) The Aftenposten, 8.2.01, reads: “New rules for whaling are being delayed.The whaling opponents are delaying the work with new rules for inspection and control of the hunt, claims Norway’s whaling commissioner. […]”

(2) All commercial whaling was forbidden by the moratorium decision. Norway made an ‘objection’ to the decision and so, under the IWC’s rules, the moratorium does not apply to it. Japan catches whales for what it claims are ‘scientific’ purposes, but this is widely regarded as a sham and all meat from the whales caught is sold on the commercial market.