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Day Four of IWC 2016

As we mentioned yesterday, this is not a complete transcript but is intended to give a brief overview on the day’s discussions. This is especially true today, when there was a break in the transmission from the meeting due to technical problems, so there may be gaps, for which we are sorry.

For the really sad amongst us (yes you know who you are) you can see the whole thing again here – well at least from where the broadcast resumed

The morning session opens with discussion of Special Permits

The Chair of the Scientific Committee, Caterina Fortuna, begins by reporting on NEWREP-A and JARPAN II

Caterina notes that Resolution 2014-5 was used to amend working methods.

She also notes that the Sci. Committee had been working through meetings in 2015 and 2016, so reports here spanned both working periods.

She reports on NEWREP-A, referencing the expert panel review that took place previously. She notes that the expert panel made recommendations in Tables 1-3. 

The overall conclusions can be found at 17.1.5 of 2015 report, and these took into account the panel report, the response of the proponents, and the committee’s intersessional work. 

Caterina smiles when pointing out that she had agreed to combine Sci. Comm. advice as the review is very technical and complex, and this summary is not meant to be a substitute for reading the full report. 

Section A notes whether design and sample sizes are reasonable to reach objectives and where little-obtained data would lead to objectives.

17.1.1 In regard to objectives 1 and 2, these are clear objectives and Japan has provided further clarification but further work will have to be done, especially in respect to statistical age response and how to apply to the RMP. She notes that the CLA does not provide a full model for management testing. The ecosystem modelling suggestions are a generally valuable contribution.

As to Item C of the Resolution on whether work could be carried out by non-lethal means, the views summarised by the Committee agreed with the expert panel that they could not decide whether non-lethal methods could work until field studies completed.

With respect to Item (d), was  lethal sample reasonable? The Panel’s views are summarised 17.1.1

The viability of non-lethal sampling was considered. The  committee proponents estimated sample size in detecting trend in age of sexual maturity. Proponents presented simulated trials.

Simulations did not incorporate all recommended criteria and therefore, the sample size was small and needed a biologically responsive size.

In terms of compliance to ICJ, sample size, time frame, scientific outputs, the panel views are at 17.1.1 of Sci Report 2015 and Table 1 shows recommendations.

The methodology of sample sizes in NEWREP-A is slated to be for 12 years and the intention is to evaluate progress after six years: the Committee believes this does supply the required information, but wants more coordination.

Overall conclusion: the analysis recommended by the expert panel should be completed and reviewed in 2016.

This was reviewed in 2016 based on 29 recommendations.

18.1.1 Discussion 

There are two complex and important recommendations, these being  numbers 1 and 26 .

  1. The level of improvement of RMP in the precision of biological parameters in implementation trials.

The Committee agreed on process to agree on any changes to CLA. A wide-sector trial would be needed to be specified to modify the CLA. No set trial for antarctic minke whales

Recommendation number 26 requires power analysis.

The Committee agreed that the results confirmed some of the concerns within the technical review group. Agreed that Japan needs to apply revised approach to the full data set.

[Ed. This means the Sci Comm have not signed off on Japan’s proposal]

This year, they agreed that the conclusions of 2015 remain valid.

Australia notes the previous Resolution (2014-5) and reports of Sci Comm. Resolution 2014-5 was agreed to strengthen review process to comply with International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to ensure that the contracting government does not self-justify any permits it wishes to issue. 

Behind the ‘some and others’ statements as commented by Japan, “NEWREP-A does not comply with the ICJ Judgement and does not comply with the requirements of this Commission.” 

“The balanced expert panel could not conclude that lethal sampling was needed and the proposal did not demonstrate a need for lethal sampling.”

Key sampling size was also not agreed.

A pause of 2-3 years was not detrimental to the programme and Japan could have allowed this Commission do its job.

At the 2015 meeting, a number of recommendations were made, and a specialist subgroup of quantitative experts convened. The subgroup concluded by consensus that the recommendations had not been met.

In 2015, many of the Sci Comm upheld the panel’s view.

Australia asked Japan for the data to test but Japan refused to supply.

Japan then said that it was satisfied that no change to sample size was needed and issued NEWREP-A and whaling [therefore] took place.

This did not give the IWC time to review the Committee’s recommendations. 

In 2016, the Japanese supplied more information, and the same sub-group reviewed any progress but concluded, by consensus, that sample size calculations were over-simplified and reiterated that NEWREP-A should not go ahead with lethal studies. 

[Ed: We can but conclude that NEWREP-A is not fit for purpose and permits should not have been issued.] 

Japan responded  saying things are not ‘black and white’. There are extensive ‘some and other opinions’ but we need to look at science. We often have a different interpretation of results and it’s only natural to have a difference of opinion, and the process is one of healthy exchanges in Sci Comm. The task of the Sci Comm is to review and comment on the research plan…as per the Schedule, “which they did.” 

He draws attention to pages 93 to 100 of Sci Comm report describing the status of recommendations. “Some have timeline of 3 months, 1 year and 2 years and clearly this is an ongoing process.”

“No answer is available in one go”, [but rather,] needs ongoing progress, year after year. This needs to be understood as not ‘black and white’.

Japan continued: After the northern hemisphere winter of 2015, we judged that we had responded in a satisfactory manner and so issued the permit. Of course, we always welcome constructive comments. Another ‘black and white’ resulting from the ICJ judgement is that some claim that Japan is not in compliance with law.

However, NEWREP-A does meet, and is consistent with, the ICJ judgement.

ICJ also said that the use of lethal of sampling is not unreasonable.

New Zealand opened by saying that they were deeply disappointed with Japan and NEWREP-A: they reiterated the ICJ judgement and expected to see Japan take care to comply,  which they have not. It’s the role of this body [the Commission] to consider the recommendations of the Sci Comm and pass judgement.

The process of evaluating NEWREP-A has 3 steps:

  1. Initial review by expert panel
  2. Review by Sci Comm
  3. Review by this Commission

The Resolution requests that countries do not issue permits until after this process is complete .

Japan started before completion of stage 2, and, whilst Japan did not support the previous resolution, this is [nevertheless] the Commission process.

Japan has sidelined the view of this Commission. 

Article VI provides for the Commission to take action on this issue. 

ICJ states that the contracting government needs to cooperate with the Commission. 

The expert panel issued conclusions that Japan should postpone lethal aspects of the study. They also  concluded that the permit did not meet requirements and the Sci comm did not conclude that Japan had done enough

In 2016, Japan had not demonstrated enough to justify lethal studies and therefore, there is no scientific justification for the use of lethal methods.

 Today, we are looking at the work of the Sci Comm, and are making our own assessment of our work. 

  1. NZ is deeply disappointed that Japan has disregarded the Commission. Japan should not issue permits until we, the Commission, have considered the process and conclusions.
  2. On the basis of information, NEWREP-A is not fit for the purpose of scientific research.

Article VIII is not needed to obtain data required by Japan.

New Zealand then asked for the record of the Commission to report the following;

 In accord with 2014 and Article VI of the Convention: 

  1. That the Commission noted that Japan issued permits before the review process is completed
  2. Japan has not demonstrated that NEWREP-A is for purposes of scientific research
  3. Recommends that Japan ceases the lethal component of NEWREP-A

EU: Comments that it does not believe that there is a need for lethal studies. We believe in open dialogue and are disappointed that Japan did not leave time for us to consider the reports of the Sci Comm before issuing permits.

In respecting 2014-5, this body is the decision-making body and should have the right to comment on any proposal before Article VIII permits are acted on.

In light of the expert panel, NEWREP-A did not provide evidence that lethal sampling was necessary.

A short period of 2-3 years would not have been detrimental to the work, but would have allowed IWC to consider the proposal.

Argentina: spoke in support of Australia and NZ. 

Iceland felt that Japan has answered appropriately as required in ANNEX P and does not see any major problems.

Iceland feels that the Resolution cannot be supported as it is designed to delay the process even further.

Chair notes the request of NZ to include text in the report and reiterates the text provided by NZ.

Japan notes that this is new language and wants to know what this is? If it is a  new proposal, it would, therefore, oppose.

Chairman agrees that the text does include Resolution text and should be discussed later, and that particular text is not to be included at this stage. 

NZ notes that its comments were on NEWREP-A paragraph 3, of Res 2014-5, [which] is different to special permits going forward and wants intervention in the report.

Chairman asks for guidance.

Chair notes that this is the view of New Zealand and asks whether this should be included as NZ, or a wider group?

Antigua and Barbuda chastises the Chairman for not paying attention to parties on the floor. “I have been requesting to speak for 15 minutes. Either we cannot allow unilateral statements by states, or else we would like a major intervention on this issue.”

The Chair notes that the proposed text states ‘Commission’, therefore he feels it is best if only NZ comments. Requests NZ changes the wording to reflect that it is just NZ. 

NZ states that they are happy to work with other commissioners and no, this is a collective responsibility of the Commission to answer this question and we need to provide something.

Antigua and Barbuda also want to provide text.

The Chair does not allow a point of order. He notes that it is the right of all members to add some text, and Antigua and Barbuda may wish to add some text. He states that NZ has offered to talk to others and this gives the chance to agree text accepted by all.

Antigua and Barbuda: States that this is acceptable, but if the final text is not acceptable then it wants to submit its views.

14.2 JARPN2

Bruno: Antigua & Barbuda wishes to make a point of order

Antigua & Barbuda: if NZ intends to provide a text, we would also like to provide text to reflect our views on that matter.

Bruno: NZ is prepared to come back maybe with a changed text and talk to others to include their views, so this would also give the possibility to others, including your delegation, to talk to them in order to find a text acceptable to all.

A&B: Says “yes that is acceptable, with the caveat that if the one text is not acceptable to everyone, either we have no text or we have two sides of opinion.”

Bruno: Urges everyone to use the time wisely, gives the floor to Caterina to report on JARPN2.

Caterina  (Summary Item 18.2).

The Sci Comm. recalled 2015 agreement that the JARPN2 review by the panel and Committee should focus on a final review of the programme in accordance with revised Annex B. Data should be available for the review of any new North Pacific proposals by Japan submitted in 2017.

Any new proposal will also assess progress against recommendations made by the panel and Sci. Comm.

Conclusions with respect to the TOR were as follows:

The Committee agrees with the broad conclusions of the expert panel. (Sci Comm. report, Item 18 2.1.1)

With respect to the programme’s scientific outputs, the panel had noted difficulties associated with the timing of the closing of the programme.  They agreed that considerable scientific work had been undertaken, resulting in a number of peer-reviewed papers. However, the Committee also noted that much greater emphasis should have been put on improved analysis and modelling. This would have considerably increased the value of the scientific outputs. Therefore, we encourage the proponents to follow these recommendations and those of the expert panel, and submit further work to be peer reviewed in scientific journals.

The Committee and panel welcomed much-improved cooperation with other research projects compared to 2009, most of that cooperation occurred within Japanese institutes (not surprisingly, due to the coastal components of the programme). The committee encouraged further cooperation with scientific researchers addressing similar issues in other regions with regard to analysis of existing data.

The Committee agreed that the expert panel’s views and the advice summarised in table 24 in the Sci Comm. report are valid and the Committee agrees with them. 

US: The US continues to believe that lethal scientific research is unnecessary for modern whale conservation and management. Scientific data can be collected by non-lethal means. Therefore, the US voted for an IUCN motion expressing concern about special permit whaling at this year’s IUCN Congress.  The JARPN review is somewhat unusual as it occurred  before formal completion of the programme in 2016. Unfortunately, it appears that Japan will begin a new North Pacific special permit whaling programme in 2017, before the Commission will have chance, in 2018, to consider the Sci Committee’s comments on that programme, so timing problem with NEWREP-A is likely to be repeated.

Japan: Thanked the Chair of the Scientific Comm. for her succinct report. 

Apologies to any loyal readers. We have had a break in transmission and so some of our watchers/transcribers are working from the floor and we shall update as soon as possible. the following is from the floor of the meeting.

Agenda Item 14.3

Australia appreciates amendment to Annex P and suggests work should take place yearly with the SC meetings.

An NGO is presenting a letter signed by approx 500 people, from around 30 countries. Most of them don’t participate at the SC and expressed concern about the programmes of “scientific” research because they negatively impact whale populations and the credibility of the scientific community.

The letter notes that NEWREP-A is more political than scientific and further notes that the size of the sample is not proportionate. It makes the analogy that the international scientific community would not accept killing thousands of bears or chimpanzees merely in order to study them. The letter was commented upon at the 2015 meeting of the SC and included in its report under point 17.1.5 NewRepA.

It further states that any work taken by the SC should consider the comments of the hundreds of scientists who aren’t a part of it. Whales are studied in non-lethal ways in countries that are (under) represented in the commission.

15 Safety at Sea

Japan raises the issue with a power point presentation.

Russian Fed: Rules of conduct also exist for NGOs especially those whose actions have a ‘terroristic nature’. They reference specific actions in Russian and Japanese waters. They ask how countries deal with activists using their flags, and refuelling at their ports, etc? 

Norway: Fully supportd the Japanese and Russian Federation’s stance.

Netherlands: Remains of the opinion that this issue should not be discussed at the IWC, but at the IMO. NL always calls on all its vessels to follow IMO regulations. Unlawful activities should be dealt with under relevant national  and international laws. NL fully respects the right to protest peacefully including on the high seas, but that said, are deeply concerned about incidents over past whaling seasons between Japanese whaling ships and protesters and apparently escalating violence. Have discussed with the Japanese representatives and hope to continue these discussions.

India: opposes violent protests at sea by any organisation, whilst recognising the right to peaceful protest within international rules.

New Zealand: has responsibility for search and rescue coordination for a vast area of the Southern Ocean;  therefore, a strong interest in this issue. Pointed out that the ocean can be a treacherous, remote and unforgiving place and search and rescue can be difficult.  NZ, therefore, condemns ANY actions at sea which may cause accident, injury, loss of human life or damage to the marine environment. Incidents during previous whaling seasons show the dangers involved. Restated  disappointment at Japan’s decision to resume whaling when lethal methods are unnecessary to achieve its research aims. Concern for the potential for further such clashes with protesters in the future. Respects the right of individuals and groups for peaceful protest but condemns dangerous or violent activities from all participants, and states that incidents should be dealt with under relevant domestic or international laws.

Australia: Safety at sea is one of Australia’s top priorities and we repeatedly call for calm and respect. Share concerns and condemn any actions which cause injury, loss of life etc.  Fully support NZ’s comments. Further, we reiterate our disappointment at Japan’s resumption of Special Permit whaling.

Switzerland: recognises the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech; however, Switzerland cannot tolerate protest which ends in violent confrontations and subsequent injury or damage to property.

US: associates with the stance of NL, NZ and Australia. SAS is one of  US’s highest priorities. Concerned confrontations could lead to injury or loss of life – calls for responsible behaviour, including efforts to avoid collisions. Respects the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest on the high seas, but condemns reckless behaviour by any party.

Denmark: The Faroes Islands are self-governing and not part of the EU. “They recognise civil society’s  interest in its small whale drive and the importance of freedom of speech and peaceful protest. However, they have no basis for dialogue with [activists] which has put life and property at risk through illegal activities in the Faroes, where the utilisation of small whales is a legal activity under regional cooperation.”  Denmark welcomes the initiative by flag states to address this serious problem.

Chair: points raised will be noted.

Lorenzo as Chairman of Conservation Committee to introduce 16.1 Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) with what he calls ‘interesting news’ about exciting information of acoustics recordings in China

Management Plan for southern right whales.

With an update from Argentina on workshop on mortality of species on Peninsula Valdez.

Committee thanks, Miguel Iniguez as co-ordinator and hard work from Argentina.

Korea latest signatory to management plan for North Pacific gray whale.

Foor now opens for questions

Brazil thanks Argentina for work on southern right whales and thanks Australia for chairing the working group; congratulates South Korea and Mexico for signing onto [the CMP] for northern grey whales. 

Argentina: we would like to thank Australia for coordinating working groups on CMPs, it has been a pleasure to work with them. We conducted a full review on CMP for southern rights and a workshop was held in September in Puerto Madre, the summary is available. We shall continue to work on the issue, thanks to Brazil for taking leadership. Thanks also go to research groups, civil society organisations  and governments so that CMP could move ahead

Mexico: Mexico notes it has also signed MOU on grey whale.

We also want to thank IWC and the Fund for Conservation of Nature for contributions, also Russia and US for support and hope that other range states will sign on soon.

Russia: appreciates the good work of this committee. Thanks Australia for leadership, thanks the Secretariat for assisting in developing management plans, and would like to congratulate South Korea and Mexico.

Japan: We are an original signatory to the MOU on western grey whales, we congratulate Mexico and Russia.  We have been taking domestic measures, including training and reporting to SC. We confirm that we will cotinue this work to protect grey whales.

Conservation Committee Chair then speaks to additional CMP proposals:

Franciscana endorsed by Conservation Committee

Argentina brought forward a proposal with a workshop in Puerto Madryn [he continues by reading out cornerstones of the proposal by Argentina for franciscana CMP] and conclusions and recommendationd. Also endorses Sci Comm conclusions and that of the Conservation Committee.

Regarding humpback whales a regional CMP endorsed by Sci Comm for (Arabian sea )

Chair of the Conservation Management Plan’s standing working group (Deb Callister) welcomes the announcement of new members of MOUs acknowledge hard work of coordinators and welcomes Brazil and Japan as new coordinators. Pleased to see work progress, especially first CMP for small cetaceans, namely franciscana. The working group has decided to do a mid-term review of its work plan. Stressed the importance of ongoing cooperation with Sci Comm and hopeful for Conservation Committee work.  Reminds members of vol. fund for CMPs, stating that voluntary contributions are welcome.

Chair opens to the floor

Argentina:  Francisana is the most threatened small cetacean in the south-western Pacific. We are working jointly with researchers, governments and reps of civil society and hope to report progress on CMP soon.

Brazil then thanks Australia and Mexico for work on CMP and slso the Chair of Cons Comm and echoes what Argentina said on franciscana.

We need better understanding of this dolphin’s ecology and threats like bycatch and gillnets and overall fisheries impacts    .                   

Chair closes item, congratulates Australia and Mexico (Lorenzo and Deb) and all members    .                    

Whale Watching  (WW)                      

Chairman of Conservation Committee notes USA’s Ryan Wollf’s hard work and wise guidance   .       Reports on worshop on sustainable WW in Indian ocean. Online whale watching handbook hopefully completed by 2018.                      

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) highlighted interest in WW work by IWC and mentions CMS resolution on responsible boat-based WW. The Conservation Committee recommended CMS joins the workshop on the handbook and makes a call for voluntary funds for handbook development.        

Debate is opened to the floor.                    

India: notes that it supports responsible WW – protocols should be observed and impacts monitored. When conducted well, it can generate alternative sustainable livelihoods for coastal communities.                      

Australia  gives an update on Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)which is currently meeting in Bali but no final outcome yet, but hopeful that it will result in an agreement to establish a network on WW. As a member of both IORA and IWC, Australia welcomes this development as an excellent example of engagement of IWC and other MEAs and bodies.        

Monaco highlights the importance of responsible WW, especially in developing countries.           States that the WW handbook will enhance the work of IWC and be very useful.                      

New Zealand joins congratulations for the standing working group work under the strategic plan for WW and notes that the handbook will be a valuable resource.                       

New Zealand notes that WW generates more than $80 millionUS yearly and is happy to provide support to other countries wanting to establish responsible WW.                       

Belgium notes that the issue of WW has been on agenda for Sci Comm and Conservation Committee for quite some time. Scientific research into effects on whales has increased. Downside to financial gains, hence to be sustainable in the long term wise management necessary   IWC recommendations from previous years have influenced developments in Panama for example.     

Notes that increasingly Sci Comm and Conservation Committee sit together over different issues and give guidance to each other. A great example of such synergies is the work on the WW handbook.                       

Mexico: thanks Belgium, noting that they have covered most of points he was going to mention. He notes that we increasingly understand impacts and we now have scientific evidence from over 20 years of studies.              

USA: thanks and acknowledges work and offers reminder that resources will be needed.                

CMS notes that the development of the handbook offers a opportunity for collaboration between CMS and the IWC and is looking forward to working together.

The meeting breaks for lunch.

6.3 Resolution on Food Security

Ghana: Grateful to US and NL/EU for their comments on this draft resolution.  However, we are not able to reach consensus on the text of the draft resolution. We are deeply disappointed that for another year, the IWC cannot reach consensus on a critical issue that affects millions of the world’s poor, especially as the existing draft incorporates many of the concerns raised. 870million people are designated as ‘hungry’ by the UN. All nations have a responsibility to ensure that hunger is eradicated globally.. access to adequate nutrition is a basic right. “The IWC needs to ensure that in its efforts to optimize whale stocks, it does not cause widespread nutritional distress.”

“The sustainable use of marine resources is crucial in the fight against poverty and hunger. Whales provide a source of nutrition in many countries of the world. Food security requires comprehensive international effort. I find it troubling when some Member States are comfortable discussing the issue of food SAFETY, but are not interested in discussing food security.”

This Resolution has nothing to do with the moratorium. We will continue to consult during the intersessional period and hope to make progress – and request the draft as an agenda item for IWC67. Thank you Chair.


6.4 Resolution on the creation of a fund to strengthen the capacity of governments of limited means to participate in the work of the IWC

Bruno: we have not yet received the new document. I now ask Japan to take the floor and indicate how the proponents want to proceed.

Japan:  I can report feeling “happy surprise, Mr Chair” as the drafting group achieved progress last evening with only a couple of things left unsolved. There remains two outstanding issues. I am very optimistic because my working group members, and drafting members, were so positive. I believe that we can soon submit the compromised version to the Secretariat by 6pm this evening for final examination and  discussion at tomorrow’s session.

Bruno: we look forward to those two remaining points being resolved and the document tabled tomorrow.


6.5 Resolution on cetaceans and ecosystem services Revised version IWC66 Rev. 3.

Bruno: Invites Chile to take the floor

Chile: [in Spanish] outlines the resolution.

Japan: There are still difficulties as we regard this Resolution as a denial of sustainable utilisation of whales and therefore, unless we see a good balance, we will not be supporting this draft resolution.

Bruno: as there is no consensus right now on this Resolution and the positions are too divergent, I am asking Chile how they want to proceed?

Chile: [in Spanish] calls for a vote

Results: YES: 36, NO: 16, ABSTAIN: 9, NOT PARTICIPATE: 3.

As a simple majority is required, the Resolution on Cetaceans and Ecosystems services is adopted.


6.6  Resolution on the Minamata Convention  IWC/66/14Rev2

Bruno invites Uruguay to take the floor

Uruguay: Introduces the resolution [in Spanish]

Japan: We appreciate efforts to improve this draft resolution; however, the objective is mainly relating to anthropogenic emissions, which has almost nothing to do with the objectives of this organization. Therefore, it is very difficult to support this resolution.

Bruno: As there is no consensus, Uruguay indicates that it would like to have a vote.

Results: YES: 38, NO: 23, ABSTAIN: 0, NOT PARTICIPATE: 3

Again, as just a simple majority is required, the resolution is adopted.


6.7 Resolution on the critically endangered Vaquita  IWC/66/20 rev

Bruno invites the USA to open.

US: confirmed revised versions incorporate concerns expressed on the original draft and note that they appreciate the collaborative approach. The version has a few changes, notably the removal of the background section; and include some new language which addresses the concerns of some members that “this Resolution might be seen that we were prejudicing views on whether this body (the IWC) has, or does, manage small cetaceans.”

Changes were otherwise largely editorial including two additional changes: CITES decision 17.x [so numbered, as this process has not yet happened]. The USA now seeks (last para of p1, second line; and third para from the bottom, first line) replace the words ‘17.x’ with ‘17.1.2 rev1’ as a reference. The US says that it is hopeful that with that, this Resolution can be adopted by consensus.

Antigua and Barbuda: We have significant sympathy with the vaquita’s plight. “No-one wants to see any species go extinct and this must be a very sorry moment for all of us here.” We are also aware that in this Commission, we are seeing a number of actions brought into force for a voting system which gives no consideration at all to the rights of minorities in this organisation.  

I wish to ask some questions: why is it that with some resolutions, we try very hard for consensus, whilst others are just “rammed down people’s throats and we have to take it or leave it”? That is not a good sign. This particular species has its respective range states. We must ensure that these states have the capacity to manage the species, and that we are always striving for consensus on this matter.

We wish to refrain from bringing this organisation into disrepute by callously voting on other issues as we have seen a few minutes ago.

Elements of this resolution would lend itself to the notion that this commission has management authority over small cetaceans. It is the opinion of A&B that this Commission has absolutely no legal authority to manage small cetaceans. It is with a very heavy heart – but for the sake of cooperation (and I commend the Chair for his leadership this week) … we have to serve notice that we feel that when it is time for certain members to have their way in this convention,  they come running to us to ask us to join them in consensus, yet they run away from us when it comes to issues like food security, or else they disguise [their true intention] under all sorts of amendments.

We will not block consensus because we need to save this species – that is coming from the bottom of my heart, but it is very painful that [certain members] think that they can just ram it down our throat. Thank you.

St Vincent & the Grenadines: Wants to concur with A&B’s sentiments. SVG takes its independent position seriously and notes that today is our independence day [applause]. We, too, are very concerned about the vaquita.  I suppose all the countries in this room are sympathetic to this cause; however, we do not believe that the IWC has jurisdiction over small cetaceans. There are communities that depend on small cetaceans for their lives and livelihood and “we feel strongly that what is happening here might probably open the window for the IWC to spread its tentacles into the management of small cetaceans, but nonetheless we sympathise with this particular resolution and will not block consensus, but we will not be participating”. Thank you.

Japan: We appreciate the proponents for their efforts to try to reflect the positions of our members as regards small cetaceans. We associate ourselves with any expressions of concern [for the plight of this species] already heard. At the same time, we seek to make clear our position on small cetaceans. We will not block consensus, but we will not join a consensus.

Ghana: we will not join the consensus.

Guinea: [in French]

St Lucia: we will not be participating.

Chairman explains the document has some slight editorial changes. Should not be a problem as these are just editorial. Now asks the US how they would like to proceed.

US: seeks clarification. Asks if any member is seeking to block consensus?

A&B asks how to record those who are not participating in the process, ie neither participating nor blocking.  Says that the official record needs to show this.

Chairman my understanding is that it will be noted that some members are not participating.

Japan: We are preparing a statement to which countries who are not participating, but are not blocking, can add their name to, as a formal Commission document.

Russian Federation: We have an independent position, we will not block consensus or participate in vote but we will also not sign the document which Japan is preparing.

USA thanks everyone participating for not blocking consensus, as this is important for the future of the species. As the lead proponent, I want to take a moment to respond to some of the comments made. The US has gone out of its way to support other Resolutions, eg the US took a lead role regarding the Resolution on assisting  governments of limited means, so that we COULD address these issues. He states firmly that “we are not here to bully, we are here as a member of this oorganisationwith the intent and the desire to work collaboratively to find ways to address issues which are important to all the members.”

Bruno: this is certainly a unique situation and we won’t see this again in the near future but this shows the willingness of all to change something and to participate. In my understanding, the Resolution for vaquita is accepted and we have to note that it was accepted by consensus and all countries not blocking consensus will be noted in Japan’s document; also I ask Russia to deliver the note to the Secretariat.

[Applause marks the coffee break!]

We resume with Agenda Item 12 The IWC in the Future

Japan speaks to a paper on website IWC66/22 on Intersessional Working Group on the Way Forward

This is the actual paper if you cannot get to it

“Terms of Reference


The year of 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the 30thyear since the so-called moratorium under Paragraph 10(e) of the Schedule to the International Convention on Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) was implemented.

To date, the IWC process has been in a stalemate due to the fundamentally conflicting views on whales and whaling, and the IWC has seen little progress on narrowing such differences, despite reform efforts repeatedly made during its history.

In order that the IWC can lead constructive discussion and produce outputs and achievements that are fair, balanced and meaningful for all of its members, the IWC establishes the Intersessional Working Group on the Way Forward (WGWF) at its 66th meeting.

Objective and Scope:

The WG-WF will discuss fundamental issues on whales and whaling which are necessary in pursuing the way forward for fair and sound functioning of the IWC, including, but not limited to, the questions listed below.

Are we willing to recognize that the fundamental differences in positions on whales and whaling are hindering the constructive discussion at the IWC and start addressing the fundamental issues?

  • How can we overcome the “dysfunction” of the IWC, while respecting the basic positions of each member, at least in the short term?
  • How can we achieve both sustainable management and conservation of whales in accordance with the provisions of the ICRW? Both objectives can be more effectively promoted if cooperative relations among the Contracting Governments are established.

The WG-WF is intended to discuss the fundamental and overarching issues that are crosscutting across all activities under the ICRW and therefore are crucial

to the future direction of the IWC. The WG-WF is therefore not intended to discuss individual issues of concern, which are to be discussed under the respective agenda items of the IWC.


Japan assumes the Chair of the WG-WF.

All Contracting Governments to the ICRW and accredited IWC observers are invited to participate in the WG-WF process by submitting its views, questions, and responses in writing to the WG-WF through the Secretariat.

Working Methods:

Participants may submit their views, questions, and answers in writing, through the IWC Secretariat. The Secretariat is asked to upload the on to the IWC website unless otherwise requested by the submitting Participant.

Working Schedule:

Participants may submit responses to the questions described above in “Objective and Scope” by 31 May 2017.Thereafter, the Chair will facilitate the web-based discussion and if necessary propose further questions to deepen the discussion.

The report of the discussion during the inter-sessional period will be circulated among all the IWC Commissioners at least 60 days prior to the 67th IWC meeting [in order to solicit further comments] / [for further discussion at the 67thIWC meeting].


The Chair will report the outcome of the WG-WF, together with the final report, to the 67th IWC meeting for its consideration.”

17.1 Revised Management Procedure

General assessments under item 5 of doc 66/17

RMP is increasingly used in fisheries management. We look at MSY and possibility to apply the CLA and potential to accept amendments.

The Committee recommended using current CLA and not to use the Norwegian amendment.

On implantation trials, further to a request from the Commission on the status of populations and species, when running implementations you can end up with different scenarios and the Committee is developing these methods.

USA: understands that RMP would be used if commercial whaling was ever allowed. The USA states that “Norway and Iceland diminish the effectiveness of the IWC” and urge them to cease all commercial whaling and international trade.

Nederlands (EU) notes moratorium still in place and Iceland and Norway have been killing, urge the maintaining  of the moratorium and calls on whalers not to trade in any whale species. 

India: agrees

Iceland: speaks to ‘sustainable use of sustainable species of whales being hunted’. For us the principle of sustainable use is the cornerstone of our fisheries policy. Whaling in our waters has always been directed at abundant whale stocks: the North Atlantic common minke and fin whales.

Our approach has always been science based. Any statements on fin whaling as being unsustainable is not accepted, as we use RMP and we are precautionary, and our takes are lower than if we applied ASW hunting CLA.

Claims that the stability of the Icelandic fin whale catch is supported by research and claims that the North Atlantic fin whale stock is increasing, from 27,000 to 41,000, despite Iceland resuming fin whaling in 2006 after a hiatus of 70 years. Says that the fin whale is classified as endangered by the IUCN but that this is based on the southern hemisphere population, and asserts that North Atlantic fin whales are not endangered.

(Iceland then runs through a long list of why it believes it is okay to kill fin whales.)

Claims that Iceland made a lawful reservation to the moratorium, and CITES provides for restriction irrespective of the status of stock,s but Iceland has in any case made  a ‘legal’ reservation. [Ed. Still a lot of countries do not accept this, including the majority at the meeting when Iceland rejoined]

Iceland further asserts that it is, therefore, wrong to say that Iceland is in breach of international conventions when exporting fin whale products.  Accepts that people can campaign for a total ban, but we cannot allow responsible people to fight a cause on false grounds by denying available scientific evidence.

The whaling issue is not just about whales, but also relates to how seriously countries base their decisions on science. The scientific approach is the only way.

Monaco: notes Iceland’s threat to resume fin whaling this coming year

Norway: associates with Iceland

Argentina and Mexico speak out against Norway and Iceland.

Argentina: opposes whaling and the trade of whale products. Invites governments of Norway and Iceland to  re-examine the decision to go on with commercial whaling, and instead to consider the benefits of ending commercial whaling and embracing the moratorium

Mexico: thanks Iceland for the information presented. Mexico is one of the countries that opposed Iceland’s reservation to the moratorium. Limited catch limits are higher than RMP, tuning level higher than approved. Remembers IWC/63/15 which provided information on RMP tuning and catch limits… the last paragraph signals that the Sci Comm recommended tuning level of 0,72, not accepted tuning level 0,6.

IUCN speaks to Iceland’s statements on fin whales. He notes that recent European surveys do not include central north Atlantic to Icelandic central stocks of fin whales.

When we are told that catch limits are calculated according to RMP of Sci Comm. that depends what you mean.

The alternative choice of tuning used by Iceland and Norway cannot be said to be safe as it has not been tested by IWC.

Testing of RMP by IWC that was found to be safe does not include the area boundaries used by Iceland, and the IWC rejected Iceland’s use of the boundaries it currently uses.

Agenda Item 17.2 – Infractions

IWC66/04 Norway who chaired the Committee, reports back looking at national laws and regulations. No reports were made on trade in whale products.

Catches in Greenland in 2013/14 as no new quota was allocated. Some said this is an infraction. DK opposed, and should not occur in the future.

The issue of Greenland is referred back to the Commission [Ed. Again]

NGO Speaker (verbatim)

“Thank you Chairman, My name is Nicolas Entrup, representative of OceanCare, and am going to speak on behalf of Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, Dolphin Connection, Fundación Cethus, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, OceanCare, Pro Wildlife, Robin de Bois, Society for the Conservation of Marine Mammals, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Whaleman Foundation, World Animal Protection, WWF 

Article IX of the ICRW requires Contracting Governments to submit full details of each infraction of the provisions of the Convention (which includes the schedule), measures taken for dealing with the infractions, and penalties imposed. Despite unambiguous language in our Treaty we have debated at several recent meetings whether particular actions constitute infractions of IWC rules.

For example, special permit whaling under JARPAII was judged by the International Court of Justice to have violated three provisions of the schedule, yet we have no guidance on how this should be recorded retrospectively as an infraction.

Also, contracting governments have differing opinions as to whether the taking of whales in the absence of an ASW quota authorised by the IWC constitutes an infraction.

We have also heard disagreement about who interprets what constitutes an infraction – the contracting government concerned or the Commission?

It remains unresolved whether failure to report information required by the schedule (for example on meal, oil, and other products made from whales) is an infraction.

We even lack agreement on whether an unintentional action constitutes an infraction and whether failing to report an infraction is an infraction in itself.

These unresolved debates reveal a flaw in IWC rules that must be remedied to ensure the credibility of this Commission. Most multilateral agreements, including almost all fisheries organizations, have established clear rules and compliance mechanisms to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the relevant agreement. The most effective agreements clearly define what constitutes an infraction and establish time-bound procedures for responding to them.”

We are in a position not unlike a local government that has a clear and specified speed limit of 50 km/h on its roads, but whose officials cannot agree whether 50 is 50, cannot resolve who should decide that 50 is 50, and cannot show a single instance of enforcement involving someone driving over 50.

We believe that this problem is resolvable and we want to encourage the greatest possible focus on compliance and cooperation with Article IX and on associated national laws.

We commend the contracting governments who follow the rules of our convention, report infractions — both intentional and accidental –and take national measures to address them. That was what the founders of the ICRW intended. The IWC must establish a credible mechanism to define and address infraction and compel compliance with IWC rules.

Thank you, Mr Chairman 

Argentina refers to the catches by Greenland on 2013 and 2014. In plenary session in Panama, when the commission discussed Greenlandic quota, there were no agreement and no quota was approved. Greenland still hunted, without an agreed quota. In the last plenary meeting, the BAG expressed that those captures by GL in 2013 and 2014 with no quota need to be considered infractions. As there was no agreement in last meeting, it was sent to operational effectiveness working group.  The working group however stated that it wasn’t in its mandate. Argentina asks how to proceed? Argentina and the BAG want to leave the statement that this needs to be set as precedent.

Dominican Republic: doesn’t want to leave the precedent of whales being hunted with no quota this would go against credibility of the IWC. 

Denmark: we have listened to carefully to views expressed. We do acknowledge the duty of sending data to IWC, after IWC64 we were in an exceptional situation and we need to avoid this again in the future.

Denmark further stated that it is committed to IWC and the Schedule.

USA states that it believes it is the duty of each country to interpret the ICRW and doesn’t believe an extended discussion is useful, therefore we should move on, as some of the new recommendations will help us move forward.

Russian Federation: our views are in the report: from a legal point of view there was no infraction. We do not agree with Argentina but we like the position of the US and only look forward. 

Chairman believes that this could not be agreed at this meeting and so the working group should report back in the future.

17.3 Catches by Non-Member Nations

Secretariat reports that Canada has provided detailed reports, but we have no information from any other nations. 

India: this is a serious issue and IWC community needs to see how to control and check the actions of whaling by non-IWC nations. We would encourage any other nation that takes whales to report to us.


Agenda Item 18: Cooperation with other Organisations

Secretariat reports back on Sci Comm meetings with various organisations and inter-sessional work undertaken.

Chair opens to floor

Nederlands (for EU): The Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the EU Member States Party to the ICRW, would like to thank the Secretariat for the numerous and fruitful activities it undertook in fulfilling Resolution 2014-2 as outlined in Doc IWC/66/04. 

We fully support the Secretariat in maintaining and deepening the cooperation with other organisations. The IWC can provide extensive expertise on the full range of cetacean issues and in turn profit from the knowledge that these organisations already have in order to create synergies and to avoid duplication of work.

In this regard, as cetaceans play an essential role in marine and freshwater ecosystems, we would like to highlight a few organisations where co-operation is important. These include the biodiversity-related conventions, the Biodiversity Liaison Group, CITES and IUCN. Other important partners within the UN-system are the IMO for ship strikes, anthropogenic noise and Arctic issues, the FAO and relevant regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) for their fishery-related work, including on strandings, and especially on the themes connected with animal welfare. We also wish to welcome the IWC By-catch initiative and the envisaged engagement of IWC with other relevant fora to address this issue. Key Regional Seas Organisations as well as CMS including ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS are important as well. It goes without saying that the Scientific Committee should continue to engage with the scientific bodies of the relevant organisations too, as this has proven to be a very constructive and useful arrangement.

We again would like to thank the IWC and the Secretariat for their continuous efforts in this regard. We believe this is the right path to pursue, as these efforts have cemented our reputation as the body responsible for matters regarding cetaceans both large and small.”

Monaco notes resolution calls to cooperate with CMS on migratory species. UN, UNCLoS and we suggest other organsitions such as WHO

India: I would like to add my voice to Nederlands and Monaco. We should cooperate with many organisations, but should not lose focus. 

USA: agrees with previous speakers. Progress requires enhanced cooperation to address bycatch, ocean noise and ship strikes.

Support IWC joining the UN interagency group on indigenous issues

Mexico speaks of CMS and other organisations that it feels are a valuable connection for IWC

The Dominican Republic speaks in support of Latin colleagues

CMS speaks next and we have set this verbatim as we think it’s very important. Take it away, CMS!

Thank you Chair, for the opportunity to speak to this item.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the IWC have many areas of common interest. As you can read in the opening statement that we submitted on behalf of CMS and its cetacean-related regional daughter Agreements, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, the Convention currently covers 16 cetacean species on Appendix I, and 44 on Appendix II. Many work streams within the CMS and its daughter Agreements relate to issues the IWC has also an interest in.

Examples of topics in which we have a common interest include threats like climate change, marine debris and ship strikes. In the meetings last week some concrete options for collaboration were discussed and the recommendations endorsed by the Commission. We are very pleased to be moving forward jointly on issues relating to bycatch and the development of guidance on best practice strandings responses and whale watching. 

The 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS, in November 2014, adopted many resolutions of relevance to cetacean conservation. Details are contained in our opening statement. Some of these resolutions specifically reference the work of the IWC and the desire of our Parties, many of which are also represented in the IWC, for our organizations to collaborate on topics of mutual interest. At this Conference, the more than 120 Parties to CMS made some bold steps, showing their modern and science-based approach to conserving the species the Convention is addressing. I would like to highlight Resolution 11.22 on Live Captures of Cetaceans from the Wild for Commercial Purposes, which addresses issues of capture, transfer and import of live cetaceans. Resolution 11.23 on Conservation Implications of Cetacean Culture is the first time an intergovernmental body recognized the increasing evidence that populations of some species are better delineated by cultural behaviour than genetic diversity or geographic isolation. This presents an even greater challenge for effective conservation strategies. In order to investigate this further and provide solid advice to the Parties, an expert group was established to consider the case for species of all taxonomic groups covered by CMS, including of course cetaceans.

Resolution 11.29 on Sustainable Boat-Based Marine Wildlife Watching is the basis for our planned collaboration regarding the Whale Watching Handbook. It establishes basic principles to adhere to when to adopting measures to promote ecologically sustainable wildlife watching, fully in line with the recommendations made by the IWC. It also requests the CMS Scientific Council to develop guidelines for the different taxonomic groups CMS deals with, including cetaceans. In order not to duplicate efforts and to make the most effective use of the resources available, developing joint guidance for this species group is an opportunity we are very pleased about.

Another area of joint interest is the threat from anthropogenic sound. You will be interested to know that CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS are in the process of finalizing CMS Family Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating Activities. These Guidelines will shortly undergo a second and final round of consultations with the Parties and scientific advisory bodies to these three treaties, and will be presented for adoption to the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS in October 2017.

Mr Chair, dear Commissioners, the regional Agreement for small cetacean conservation in northern and western Europe, ASCOBANS, has held its 8th Meeting of the Parties less than two months ago. Many progressive resolutions on both well-known and emerging threats to cetaceans were passed, including issues such as bycatch, underwater munitions, ocean energy, and management of cumulative impacts in the marine environment. You can find details in the already-mentioned joint opening statement of the CMS Family of Agreements. I would like to highlight just a couple of the decisions made, as they relate to the discussions here in the last few days.

The Scientific Committee of IWC has repeated its grave concern about the status of the Baltic harbour porpoise and data released at the end of 2015 gave much needed insights into population size and distribution, enabling ASCOBANS – as the competent regional treaty for the conservation of this species – to prepare an updated version of the Recovery Plan for the Baltic Harbour Porpoise, which was adopted through ASCOBANS Resolution 8.3. The Jastarnia Plan, as it is commonly called, provides a comprehensive framework for the urgent regional action needed to allow this depleted population to recover, and we invite both ASCOBANS Parties and non-Party Range States in the Baltic Sea region to implement it and the neighbouring Western Baltic Conservation Plan and participate in the fora established to support this.

ASCOBANS Resolution 8.10 on Small Cetacean Stranding Response encourages the establishment of effective national strandings response networks, and recommends that updated necropsy protocols and best practice guidelines for stranding responses and necropsies be developed collaboratively with the IWC, ACCOBAMS and the European Cetacean Society. We were very pleased that this call for collaboration was heard by the IWC and our request to have ASCOBANS represented on the newly established Expert Panel was favourably received.

This meeting has endorsed the proposal for a Bycatch Initiative under the IWC. The incidental mortality of cetaceans, both large and small, related to fishing activities is enormous, and constitutes one of the most severe threats. As many of you will be aware, CMS, ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS have all worked on this issue for many years, including through dedicated working groups and direct engagement with fisheries fora, and have considerable expertise to offer. We are therefore looking forward to engaging with the IWC on work relating to this subject, and are pleased that the Commission endorsed the participation of experts active in our fora in the newly established standing working group and Expert Panel.

Mr Chair, dear Commissioners, the threats to cetaceans in the modern world require “all hands on deck”. As international organisations we have to make full use of synergies. It is my pleasure to report that the three Secretariats serving the IWC, CMS/ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS are committed to working together wherever feasible. From our side, we very much appreciate the open and constructive exchanges which have now become a regular feature of our work.

Our organisations have a common aim: healthy populations of whales, dolphins and porpoises. We must continue to make use of every opportunity to work together and build on our respective achievements to realise this.

NGO interventions

Pro Wildlife and WDC then both made interventions on enforcement and controls, though the Chairman curtailed the final presentation, which seemed to be embarrassing Japan somewhat J

However, whilst the Japanese may not have wanted to hear it, this is the WDC intervention:

Thank you Mr. Chair 

My name is Carolina Cassani and I make this intervention on behalf of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, Dolphin Connection, Environmental Investigation Agency, Fundación Cethus, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Care, Pro Wildlife, Robin des Bois, and The Whaleman Foundation. 

Only two weeks ago, on October 15, WDC discovered several canned whale products for sale by a Tokyo-based online sales company called the Japan Trend Shop. This information was found on a blog site in the United States known as the A.V. Club. The Japan Trend Shop offered worldwide express shipping for its products which could be purchased in pounds sterling, US dollars and Euros. The whale meat for sale was canned Sunoko whale meat from Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan Inc., a Japanese company with a long history of selling whale meat sourced from Japan’s scientific whaling programs. Indeed, the blog site explicitly notes that the whale meat comes from animals killed as part of “scientific research.” 

In order to test Japanese enforcement and control mechanisms, a single can of whale meat was purchased, then shipped from Japan to the United Kingdom, and is currently sitting in the UK customs agency facility. WDC informed UK authorities in regard to this investigation, made the purchase of this product, and have kept all relevant UK agencies apprised about every step of this investigation. 

Even more recently, on October 19, WDC discovered that eBay US had advertised two cans of “Kinoya Canned Rare Sunoko Whale Meat” for sale for 45 US dollars with free shipping. This listing was ended by the seller on October 6, 2016. WDC does not know if these cans of whale meat were sold or what quantity of whale meat is sold via eBay in the United States. 

Mr. Chairman, the sale of whale meat is illegal in most countries around the world under both regulations implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and national laws. In this case, the advertisement of these products in multiple languages and the ability to pay for the product in US dollars, Euros, and pounds sterling raises serious concerns about the legality of the sale of these products. While potential customers in the EU and United States may not be aware of laws prohibiting their purchase of whale meat, offering these products online effectively entice unsuspecting customers to violate wildlife trade laws. Moreover, the online sale of these products outside of Japan strongly suggests that there is a surplus of whale meat in Japan and that Japan, while requesting that the IWC approve a Small Type Coastal Whaling quota, is unable to regulate its own companies to prevent them from illegally selling whale meat to customers living in countries where the purchase and possession of whale meat is illegal. 

As some member states have just been speaking on better co-operation between the IWC and relevant other agreements and conventions, we would like to point out that increased interaction between the IWC and CITES could be one opportunity to address such issues in the future. 

If any Contracting Government would like more information, a briefing is available at We request that all Contracting Governments examine this information and submit it to their relevant wildlife protection or wildlife trade law enforcement authorities to ensure that whale meat is not being illegally imported into their countries. 

Thank you. 

And all went their merry ways until tomorrow.