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IWC67: discussions on Subsistence Whaling
and a vote on South Atlantic Sanctuary


Day Two of the IWC biennial plenary began with the presentation of a proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.  The proposal, which has been discussed at previous IWC meetings, was introduced by the Government of Brazil and co-sponsored Argentina, Gabon and South Africa.

Wide-ranging discussions were not able to reach agreement on the proposal and the decision was taken by vote.  The establishment of a new sanctuary requires a change to the  IWC Schedule.  This is the legally binding framework of the IWC, and amendments to it must achieve a three-quarters majority.  The result of this vote was 39 in favour and 25 against with 3 abstentions. The three-quarters majority was not reached and therefore this proposal was not adopted.  Speaking in response to the vote, the Government of Brazil's Minister for Environment expressed disappointment in the result but respect for the democratic processes of the IWC, also thanking the Commission for all its work on conservation.

The Commission then discussed Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW): the small scale subsistence hunting undertaken by some indigenous communities, mainly in the Arctic.  This meeting will discuss new ASW catch limits which are usually set in six year blocks. 

The Commission began by expressing its deep appreciation and gratitude to Dr Mike Tillman for his outstanding leadership as Chair of the Working Group that has been tackling some long-term questions regarding ASW.

The Commission then received Scientific Committee confirmation of the sustainability of the proposed catch limits which they evaluated following a mathematical process using robustly tested Strike Limit Algorithms.

Representatives of each of the subsistence whaling regions were also invited to speak on behalf of their communities and explain the importance of their hunts, both nutritionally and culturally.  The discussions will continue tomorrow. 

You can read descriptions of each of the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling hunts here.

Meeting documents are publicly available by registering on the meeting portal here.

You can watch live coverage of the meeting between 9am and 5.30pm local time here.