Press release n° 1 – Opening
66th International Whaling Commission
Portoroz – Slovenia
24-28 October 2016
On the table of the 88 Member States, no whale meat, but several important topics for their future, the future of the order Cetacea and of the Commission itself.
Sanctuaries are geographically defined areas in the world ocean where commercial whaling is prohibited and will remain even if the commercial whaling suspension entered into force in 1986 was eventually to be lifted. The Indian Ocean sanctuary was established in 1979 on a proposal of the Seychelles. The Southern Ocean (Antarctic) sanctuary was adopted in 1994. However, given the current state of the IWC founding text , some Member-States may lead scientific whaling with lethal methods in contradiction with the ethics and purpose of the sanctuary.
– The South Atlantic sanctuary proposed by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Gabon and South Africa requires the favorable vote of ¾ of the States delegations. The project has been contested for 16 years by whaling and consumer countries and those considering whale as an existing or future ingredient of humankind food safety. The purpose of this sanctuary is to learn more about the populations by species, to maintain or develop them, to protect the feeding and breeding areas as well as migration corridors and to increase knowledge without resorting to lethal methods. The South Atlantic sanctuary would connect with the Southern Ocean sanctuary.
Resolutions must be adopted by a simple majority. They are not binding but they direct the works of the Commission secretariat, the Scientific Committee and all Member States in a common direction. The draft resolutions may be amended before the vote.
– Draft resolution on improving the review process for whaling under special permits submitted by Australia and New Zealand. Since the entry into force of the ban on commercial whaling 30 years ago, more than 15,000 of them have been killed by the Japanese whaling fleet under the cover of special permits better known as scientific permits. The resolution, mainly built on the judgment of the International Court of Justice of March 31, 2014 concerning whaling in the Antarctic, intends to reform within the IWC ways and means for reviewing and awarding special permits.
– Draft resolution on Cetaceans and ecosystems services submitted by Chile. Cetaceans throughout their life cycle contribute by their behavior, their organic waste, their migrations, their decomposition to enrich the overall ocean productivity (1)
– Draft resolution on Minamata Convention submitted by Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. Adopted on October 10, 2013 in Japan, the Minamata Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from emissions and anthropogenic releases of mercury and mercury compounds. The resolution wants the Scientific Committee of the IWC to present at the next session a synthesis of knowledge on the occurrence of persistent pollutants particularly mercury in Cetaceans of the worldwide ocean. The resolution also calls to identify areas where the suspension of catches for human consumption should be recommended because of mercury and other persistent pollutants levels in cetaceans. In its introduction, the draft resolution underlines that countries that have signed or ratified the Minamata Convention are almost all IWC members. This convention refers to the Bay of Minamata stricken by industrial discharges of mercury between 1932 and 1966.
“On the Trail” special issue published for the 66th IWC, October 2016  (pdf, 10-pages – 2Mo)
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(1) Related reading:
– On whales and their usefulness (20 pages pdf 1MB)
– Fish eat whales,  July 12, 2011