The Road to Agadir: The International Whaling Commission Meets in Morocco

When the full International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets next week in Agadir, Morocco, it will vote on a proposal that would legitimize commercial whaling for the first time in 25 years.  I am attending the IWC meetings on behalf of NRDC and will be blogging about my impressions.  My first blog will address the question on everyone’s mind here in Agadir: Will the deal pass?

The road to Agadir has been difficult.  After three years of closed door negotiations, the IWC released its draft proposal last April.  The proposal – if adopted as currently written – would effectively suspend the moratorium on commercial whaling and legitimize killing whales for profit for a 10-year period.  It would legitimize Japan, Norway and Iceland’s renegade commercial whaling without imposing any end to their operations.  The proposal would also authorize commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – a sanctuary established by the IWC itself in 1994 to protect whales.

In other words, it is not a good deal for the whales.  Click here and here for additional information about the proposal.

Yet I arrived late last night in Agadir with hope.  Hope that next week the IWC will vote against any deal that fails to end commercial whaling completely.  Hope that as I’m sitting in IWC meetings for the next week and a half, I’ll be able to report on how countries are trying to save whales, not whalers.

Hope springs eternal (at least for me) because opposition to the proposal – and its legitimization of commercial whaling – has been so strong.  NRDC members and activists alone have generated more than 100,000 messages to the White House urging President Obama to oppose any deal that would legitimize commercial whaling without seeking to end it.  Click here to send your message to the White House.  And click here to see a public service announcement from Pierce Brosnan to President Obama, imploring the President to stay true to his 2008 pledge to "ensure the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international ban on commercial whaling."

It certainly wasn’t the intention of the United States – which has been supportive of a deal – to back a politically unpopular proposal.  Let’s hope the road to Agadir is paved with more than good intent.