IWC 63 Postpones Decision on South Atlantic Sanctuary

14 July 2011: The 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was held from 11-14 July 2011, in St Helier, Island of Jersey, UK. Among other issues, the Commission examined the report of the Scientific Committee on the status of whale stocks and endorsed its recommendations.

Regarding aboriginal subsistence whaling, it made no changes to the present limits. The IWC held extensive discussions on new and revised Rules of Procedure, and agreed by consensus on a Resolution on improving the effectiveness of operations within the IWC that also incorporated some changes to its Rules of Procedure and Financial Regulations. In addition to the rule changes, the resolution included: investigating options for providing assistance to member governments with limited means to participate actively in the Commission's work; establishing a working group to further consider the role of observers at IWC meetings; and agreeing to regularly review its rules in the light of international good practice and to address specific problems that may arise. The IWC also agreed to a new experimental procedure relating to the participation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in its plenary sessions.

With regard to a proposal sponsored by Brazil and Argentina for the creation of a South Atlantic Sanctuary, a number of whaling countries withdrew from the room when it was suggested to put the proposal to a vote. The agenda item was eventually left open until the 2012 annual meeting. The Commission recognized the diversity of views on this issue, as well as the importance of a South Atlantic Sanctuary to many member governments, and resolved to continue to discuss the item as the first substantive agenda item at IWC-64. If consensus cannot be reached then, a decision will be taken in accordance with the Commission's rules of procedure. IWC-64 will be held in June/July 2012, in Panama City, Panama [IWC Press Releases]