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Reef Report for Monday, June 27, 2005

International Whaling Commission Concludes Annual Meeting
Protection for whales continues, but with threats on the horizon.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) concluded itís annual meeting this past week, with little weakening of current protections for whales, but leaving unfinished business which will come up again in next yearís meeting.

Almost all the motions to relax protections or expand whaling of any kind were voted down. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises

-Japanís proposal to create a new type of whaling, termed small-type coastal whaling, were voted down by the IWC members. Under the proposal four communities on Japanís coast would have been permitted to take up to 150 minke whales next year.

-There was much debate over Japanís proposed version of the Revised Management Scheme (RMS), which, according to most analysts, would have lifted the moratorium on commercial whaling, and placed few effective management safeguards over the taking of whales. The proposal was voted down, as well as a number of related resolutions, with only the most neutral one, which approved the continuing discussion of the issue passing.

-Japanís bid to abolish the large Southern Ocean Sanctuary established in Antarctic waters 10 years ago was also rejected.

Japan did announce that it may more than double itís killing of whales as a part of its scientific research-whaling program, to take as many as 935 minke whales next year. It also announced that it was considering taking up to 50 humpack and 50 fin whales, even though both species are listed as endangered.

The scientific whaling program has been receiving much criticism from scientists lately, many of whom feel that the research is not turning up anything new, and that use of sampling darts (which take a small tissue sample of the whales) and the use of modern genetic and biochemistry techniques, as well as computer modeling , eliminate the need to kill whales for scientific research.

Next yearís IWC meeting promises to be fierce, which equally determined proponents of whaling and advocates for the protection of whaling squaring off. A recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation story on their show Four Corners, entitled "The Whale Wars" focused on the behind the scenes politics involved, including instances of undue influence being exerted on some of the smaller countries that are voting IWC members.

Australia has continued to take a strong, no compromise stance against commercial whaling, and that reflects the public opinion here.

More background news on the IWC meeting:

International Whaling Commission.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) coverage.

Humane Society of the United States.

BBC coverage of the scientific whaling controversy.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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