Sunday 22 August 2010

Maquieira Proposal fails at IWC 62

On 25 June, after 5 days of plenary meetings, the 2010 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission ended without adopting the Consensus Proposal, also referred to as the Maquieira Proposal. [See News Items 02.05.10 and 25.04.10.] Had it been endorsed in anything like its original form, the proposal would have essentially sanctioned a return to commercial whaling for the next decade.

There were grave concerns amongst conservation organisations during the previous two months, after IWC Chair, Ambassador Cristian Maquieira (Chile), publically released the draft proposal 'as a basis for discussions'. The situation became even more threatening when words of support for the whaling deal came from the United States and New Zealand.

The AWCS was quick to seek assurances from Environment Minister Peter Garrett that Australia would not support any proposal that included what would effectively be commercial whaling quotas. Minister Garrett confirmed that Australia would oppose any such trade-off and that the government would seek support within the Small Working Group on the Future of the IWC and in negotiations with its anti-whaling allies.

Early on the first day of the IWC meeting, Vice-Chair Ambassador Anthony Liverpool (Antigua & Barbuda) announced that as much time as possible would be allocated to try to draft a deal that would receive sufficient support among member nations to be voted in. Two days and more than 30 sub-group sessions later, Ambassador Liverpool announced that although some progress had been made towards a consensus position, member nations 'remained very far apart' on critical issues. These issues include the commercial whaling moratorium, scientific whaling, whale sanctuaries and trade in whale meat.

Accepting that a succession of meetings of the Small Working Group on the Future of the IWC over the past year had failed to reach consensus on the most contentious issues surrounding commercial whaling, Ambassador Liverpool noted in his closing remarks that the IWC would 'pause in its work on this topic' until the 2011 meeting.


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