A proposal to declare a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean has been defeated at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting.
Latin American countries argued that declaring a sanctuary would help whale conservation and whale-watching.
The bid gained more than half of the votes but fell short of the three-quarters majority needed to pass.
Observers noted that the vote was orderly and without rancour, in marked contrast with previous years.
Further votes at the meeting in Panama are anticipated, on issues ranging from subsistence hunting by indigenous peoples to whether the United Nations should be asked to take charge of whale conservation.
Marcos Pinta Gama, Brazil’s commissioner to the IWC, said he was disappointed by the result, but pleased that the vote had happened.
“We believe that the sanctuary is a very important initiative in order to ensure the protection of whales within the whole South Atlantic, to promote the non-lethal use of cetaceans and and benign research that’s important for conserving whales,” he told BBC News.
Whale-watching and ecotourism, he said, were becoming important industries for coastal communities.
Results of Roll-Call Voting of Contracting Governments:
Antigua & Barbuda: No
Costa Rica: Yes
Croatia: Not present
Czech Republic: Yes
Dominican Republic: Yes
Republic of Ghana: No
Kenya: Not present
New Zealand: Yes
Russian Federation: No
St. Kitts and Nevis: No
St. Lucia: No
St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Abstain
South Africa: Yes
United Kingdom: Yes
United States: Yes
VOTE RESULTS: 38 “Yes”: 21 “No”; 2 “Abstain” and 0 “No participating”
Not a surprising result – the Polynesian countries have long been known to be completely bought out by the Japanese government (Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu), as well as some of the old land-locked colonies (Mongolia and Laos) and the Caribbean countries (Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia).
Japan effectively holds 1/4 of the votes through fairly means which makes the IWC a sad joke.
BBC article from 2001: Save the whales? Not if Japan’s bribes pay offhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/may/13/world.anthonybrowne