Proposed Consensus Decision from the Chair and Vice Chair of the International Whaling Commission
At the Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Madeira last summer, a Group of 12 countries, the Support Group, was given the task to seek a compromise within the organization. The IWC has been dysfunctional for a number of years due to controversy between countries that support sustainable whaling and countries that oppose whaling. Iceland was a member of the Support Group and took part in its work at numerous meetings last winter. Iceland declared its willingness to accept whaling quotas within sustainable limits should that contribute to general agreement, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture Iceland.
Despite thorough negotiations and proposals from both sides, the Support Group failed to reach agreement on whaling quotas for Iceland, Japan and Norway, and on some other important issues. The Chair and Vice Chair of the IWC then decided to submit a proposal for a consensus decision in their own names. It is expected that the proposal be dealt with at the Annual Meeting of the IWC in Agadir, Morocco, in June. The proposal contains a paragraph, which had been proposed by some anti-whaling countries, on the domestic use of whale products that would in effect mean a ban on international trade and have the biggest negative effect on the interests of small countries with small domestic markets. The proposal further includes quotas for those countries that have conducted whaling, including annual quotas for Iceland in the period 2011-2020 of 80 fin whales and 80 minke whales.
Icelandic authorities are not in a position to accept a ban on international trade in whale products. Firstly, as a country living from the export of seafood, Iceland can not agree to restrictions on trade in marine resources that are sustainably harvested. Secondly, the issue of trade falls outside the mandate of the IWC and the organization therefore has no authority to deal with the issue. Further, it is clear that the quotas proposed for Iceland are well below sustainable limits and in this connection it should be kept in mind that the Marine Research Institute of Iceland has given a scientific advice of annual quotas of 200 fin whales and 200 minke whales.
Icelandic authorities emphasize that no decisions should be taken at the Annual Meeting of the IWC in Agadir without general agreement of its Member States. So far the work has been conducted on the basis of consensus. It would not serve the future interests of the IWC to attempt to push for a vote as that would only add to the controversy between the Member States and might indeed lead to the collapse of the organization.