This summer, a brand-new radio station will begin broadcasting from Robson Bight, Vancouver Island, Canada. 'ORCA FM' (88.5 MHz), the world's first round-the-clock 'whale talk radio' will hit the airwaves, although pilot broadcasts will be limited to a 10-km radius of the station. A network of hydrophones will relay the sounds of orcas communicating as they travel through Robson Bight, a reserve adjoining the busy Johnstone Strait, and neighbouring waters.
Most people will have heard of the story of Keiko, the killer whale who starred in the film 'Free Willy'. On discovering that Keiko was suffering in terrible conditions in real life, the public set about demanding that Keiko should be set free, just like in the film.. As a result, Keiko was moved from Mexico to the Oregon State Coast Aquarium, USA, where he is currently being prepared for release back to the wild. This is the first time that an attempt has been made to release a killer whale from captivity and, as such, is an incredibly important project.
It seems that at the end of this year's heated debates at the IWC in Oman, there have been some positive steps made. On the final day, the IWC passed a resolution on the potential effects on human health caused by eating whale meat. This means that the IWC has recognised the risk to humans that high pollution levels in whale meat can have, therefore placing a new obstacle in the way of the whalers. This resolution, alongside the resolutions on environmental threats and the condemnation of Norwegian whaling, represents positive steps by the IWC in the eyes of WDCS.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Sultanate of Oman for its kind hospitality and the friendly reception that we have received. We have been fortunate enough to see something of the richness of the local marine fauna and are pleased to offer our advice and assistance in the development of well regulated and well managed whale and dolphin watching.
With two crushing resolutions Norwegian whaling was condemned as being unscientific today by the IWC.
A resolution condemning Norway's current minke whaling was passed by majority, though many nations who are supportive of the Irish Proposal for a compromise deal to be struck with Norway, stated that they would abstain as they did not wish to upset Norway. The resolution went on to call on Norway to cease all whaling immediately.
IWC/50/28 Agenda Item 18 or 15.2
RESOLUTION ON ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES AND CETACEANS
Sponsored by: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico,
Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand. Oman, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United
Kingdom and United States.
NOTING that the United Nations has declared 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean, in
Saturday the 16th May, Sunday 17th May 1998 and Monday 18th May
Having attended many Commission meetings, WDCS has witnessed some bizarre occurrences, but none so strange as during the first three days of IWC50.
The Commission meeting was plunged into chaos on its first morning of plenary when what appeared to be deliberate stalling tactics were employed by Japan and its Caribbean allies in order to stop progress and discussion on any substantive points of the already packed agenda.
To view a WDCS report on Norway's subsidising of its whaling operations please download the attached file (word 6 format)
Report on day 1 of the 50th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Oman:
IWC GETS NASTY: AN OPENING DAY OF HYPOCRISY
Historically, in managing certain aboriginal subsistence hunts, the IWC has set the limit on the number of whales which may be struck and lost. This was achieved by placing a cap on total allowable landings and by setting a struck and loss rate. By reducing the allowable 'struck rate' over time, improvements in hunting skill, and increased consideration for the welfare of the whales, is encouraged. (This situation is addressed in detail in the WDCS briefing on Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling).