21 Nations Block Effort to Turn Southern Atlantic Into Giant Whale Sanctuary

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.


Transcript of discussion and list of votes:

Results of Roll-Call Voting of Contracting Governments:

Antigua & Barbuda: No

Argentina: Yes

Australia: Yes

Austria: Yes

Belgium: Yes

Benin: No

Brazil: Yes

Cambodia: No

Chile: Yes

China: No

Columbia: Yes

Costa Rica: Yes

Cypress: Yes

Croatia: Not present

Czech Republic: Yes

Denmark: Yes

Dominican Republic: Yes

Ecuador: Yes

Estonia: Yes

Finland: Yes

France: Yes

Gabon: Yes

Germany: Yes

Republic of Ghana: No

Grenada: No

Iceland: No

India: Yes

Ireland: Yes

Israel: Yes

Italy: Yes

Japan: No

Kenya: Not present

Kiribati No

Korea: No

Laos: No

Luxembourg: Yes

Mexico: Yes

Monaco: Yes

Mongolia: No

Morocco: Abstain

Nauru: No

Netherlands: Yes

New Zealand: Yes

Norway: No

Palau: No

Panama: Yes

Peru: Yes

Poland: Yes

Russian Federation: No

St. Kitts and Nevis: No

St. Lucia: No

St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Abstain

Slovenia: Yes

South Africa: Yes

Spain: Yes

Sweden: Yes

Switzerland: Yes

Tanzania: No

Togo: No

Tuvalu: No

United Kingdom: Yes

United States: Yes

Uruguay: 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


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