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The Pew Tokyo Whale Symposium

L-R: Rémi Parmentier, Pew Environment Group; Humberto Rosa, Environment Secretary of State, Portugal; Peter Bridgewater, Chair of the Pew Whales Commission; and Charles Buchanan, Managing Director of the Luso-American Foundation.
The Pew Commission on Whale Conservation in the 21st Century met from 9-10 February 2009, in Lisbon, Portugal. The meeting was sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and hosted by the Luso-American Foundation (FLAD). It was the third major meeting of the Pew Whale Conservation Project. Previous events included the “Pew Symposium on the Conservation of Whales in the 21st Century,” held in New York, US, in April 2007, and a symposium on “Changing the Climate for Whales – Is there a Common Way Forward?” held in Tokyo, Japan, in January 2008.

The Pew Whales Commission was established to advance possible solutions that will enhance whale conservation and help the International Whaling Commission (IWC) resolve some of the complex issues on its agenda. The Pew Whales Commission includes eminent individuals with broad experience in international policy and diplomacy, representing various sides of the debate.

The Lisbon meeting brought together 13 Pew Whales Commission members and around 25 observers, representing civil society, academia, and various IWC member countries. Participants evaluated diplomatic remedies and areas of agreement and disagreement relating to the IWC and its constituent instrument, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). The discussions were summarized in a Chair’s report which, pending consensus through consultation following the meeting, may become the Pew Whales Commission’s report. The report will be made available to all governments and stakeholders with whale conservation interests through the Pew Whales Commission’s website. 

Despite some strongly-held positions on both sides of the debate, consensus at the meeting was reached on a number of important issues. For instance, it was agreed that the best way forward would be not to draft an entirely new convention, but rather to develop a protocol to the current Convention that modernizes both the ICW and the ICRW. Consensus was also apparent on the need for high-level participation in the IWC’s Annual Meetings to help move the issue forward. Areas of disagreement included the possibility of officially permitting small-type coastal whaling in Japan, ceasing all whaling operations in the Southern Ocean, and bringing scientific whaling under the authority of the IWC Scientific Committee, rather than that of individual states.
The Lisbon meeting brought together 13 Pew Whales Commission members and around 25 observers, representing civil society, academia, and various IWC member countries.
 
Peter Bridgewater, Chair of the Pew Whales Commission, delivered an opening address at an evening reception.
Bill de la Mare, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia, addressed the practical challenges of establishing catch limits.
Many participants commented on the collegial and cooperative atmosphere, which they said could serve as an example to the IWC
 
Summarizing current whaling activities, Russell Leaper, International Fund for Animal Welfare and member of the IWC Scientific Committee, highlighted the ICRW’s goal of sustainability.
Photos: Kelly Rigg, Pew Environment Group
Related Links
IISD RS resources
IISD Resources
IISD RS coverage of the “Pew Symposium on the Conservation of Whales in the 21st Century”, New York, US, April 2007
IISD RS coverage of the Pew symposium “Changing the Climate for Whales – Is there a Common Way Forward?”, Tokyo, Japan, January 2008
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