The Cousteau society have been able to speak at the IWC

25 June 2010

The Cousteau Society took the floor for an intervention at the plenary meeting of the International Whaling Commission on Thursday, June 24, during a block of time allowed to non-governmental organizations representing civil society. Despite expressing a wish to expand the participation of NGOs, the Commission once again reduced the allocated time to one half-hour and only eight organizations—five speaking on behalf of conservation and three pro-whaling spokespersons—were allowed the floor.
As the plenary session approached the end of its session, the delegation of France, supported by Sweden and Ecuador, insisted that the NGOs be heard in light of previous postponement of the speeches.

Below is the intervention made by the Cousteau Society’s representative Noémie Stroh:

I speak to you today in the name of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who would be 100 years old this month of June 2010. You all know him well as a passionate defender of whales and advocate for the moratorium on commercial whaling.
Captain Cousteau is no longer with us but his message could not be more alive. The results of that hard-won moratorium are just beginning to be seen but the situation for whales still has far to go: some species remain gravely endangered and all are threatened by risks that are multiplying and intensifying.

The Cousteau Society supports the positions expressed by the preceding organizations working for the conservation of whales. To close the short session allotted to NGOs in the spirit of cohesion embodied by Captain Cousteau, the Cousteau Society wishes to highlight the substantial conservation-related work accomplished by the Commission as several delegations has mentioned. A few of them that were reported this year:
• The cooperative and innovative work to reduce ship strikes,
• The progress of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership,
• And the research that revealed the critical situation of humpback whales in the Arabian Sea and those in the Gulf of Oman, the Southern right whales and the cetaceans of the northwestern coast of Africa.
These advances in conservation confirm the position of the IWC as the preeminent authority in cetacean science and management.

However negotiations about the Future of the IWC have monopolized meetings, absorbed budgets and work time. The proposition under discussion has the stated objective of improving the conservation of whales but it primarily elaborates mechanisms for controlling and managing whaling. The administration costs, estimated at nearly $2 million, threaten to demand the majority of the Commission’s financial resources and most of the work time of the Scientific Committee while equivalent resources will not be dedicated to true conservation programs.

The Commission can fulfill its role in cetacean conservation with brio, while it has failed historically in regulating whaling. Enough! It is time to concentrate efforts on developing and funding the Commission’s work to preserve whales. The Cousteau Society calls for a detailed budget and timetable for effective action against the risks that threaten whales in order to help populations, especially those in serious danger, to recover.

Can we today offer an answer to Captain Cousteau’s challenge: “Will we succeed in changing public opinion, in saving the great marine creatures, in achieving for them a place in the Universe, a place in the sea?”

Thank you.

                                                                                                       Noémie Stroh 2010/06/24