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article imageIWC vote fails to pass the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary

By Elizabeth Batt     Jul 2, 2012 in Environment
Panama City - The American Cetacean Society, currently attending the 64th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama City, Panama, is reporting that the proposal for the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS) has failed to pass an IWC vote.
The sanctuary, which was proposed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Uruguay aimed to declare the southern Atlantic a no-kill zone for whales. If the proposal had been adopted, it would have been the fourth sanctuary established by the IWC and the third actively in force. But the measure has always faced an uphill battle despite increasing support.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Brazil first signaled its intention to propose SAWS in 1999, but preferred to defer action to a later meeting, pending consultation.
Finally at the "53rd Annual Meeting in 2001," IFAW said, "the proposal was submitted jointly by the Governments of Argentina and Brazil and has been presented at eight subsequent Annual Meetings, most recently in 2011." Yet despite a growing number of votes in favor IFAW says, it has never achieved the required ¾ majority or consensus it needed to pass.
Today, the American Cetacean Society (ACS reporting live from the annual meeting, said the proposal was defeated for a 9th time.
Thirty-eight countries voted in favor of the measure and 21 voted against, two countries abstained. Not surprisingly, the whaling nations of Japan and Norway voted against the proposal.
According to an AFP report posted Khaleej Times, it was Japan that defeated the proposal for the Atlantic sanctuary. The country and and its allies the news report said, "shot down the Latin American proposal ... reigniting international tensions over Tokyo’s whaling."
Jose Truda Palazzo of the Cetacean Conservation Center and former Brazilian representative to the International Whaling Commission, blamed nations that receive Japanese aid for scuttling the proposal. He told the AFP, "You can’t really believe that Nauru or Tuvalu has an interest or has studied the sanctuary. They are voting because Japan tells them to."
The American Cetacean Society has posted a list of the countries who voted for and against the proposal, along with their respective comments on their blog.
Japan meanwhile, said that the SAWS proposal lacked "a vigorous approach to the design and approach to the management prescriptions within a sanctuary and represents a ‘shotgun’ approach to management of whale stocks." They added that there was "no scientific justification for the sanctuary, and so it’s against the Convention, which states that sanctuaries have to be established on the basis of scientific evidence."
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