GWA and the Berlin Initiative

Dear All

I write on behalf of the Global Whale Alliance (GWA) regarding the 'Berlin
Initiative' which has been tabled for consideration at next month's IWC
meeting in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns =
"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Berlin.The GWA supports the
"Berlin Initiative" orany other that will finally steer the IWC away from the
exploitation of whales toward addressing their critical conservation
needs.However, and following on from Ben White's email, we would like
to introduce a note of caution. Ben is right to point out that the founding
remit of the IWC is:

'To provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make
possible the orderly development of the whaling industry'

The GWA represents an international coalition of NGOs that oppose the
resumption of commercial whaling. Over 150 NGOs worldwide, including
many CFNers, have signed our GWA position statement opposing the
IWC's developing Revised Management Scheme (RMS) for the
resumption of commercial whaling.Unfortunately, the discussions on
finalizing the RMS are being conducted behind closed doors at the IWC
and these discussions will continue in Berlin.

The GWA is concerned that certain compromise-minded countries that
support the completion and adoption of the RMS will try to use their
support for the Berlin Initiative as a 'trade off', a quid pro quo, for the
completion and adoption of an RMS. Apparently this has already been
suggested at a private Commissioner's meeting ahead of Berlin. Although
the 'Berlin Initiative' emphasizes the 'proper conservation of whale
stocks', it does not rule out the 'orderly development of the whaling
industry' through the resumption of whaling under the RMS as part of that
"conservation" regime.

The GWA is not opposed to the "Berlin Initiative" in principle, far from
it.However, we are greatly concerned that it is not used to reach
agreement on the RMS. We do not want an IWC Conservation
Committee set up at the expense of a so-called 'sustainable' commercial
whaling regime under an RMS.

We would urge all NGOs, while seeking support for the 'Berlin Initiative' to
seek assurances their government that this will not in any way be
conditional upon any agreement on the RMS.We would particularly ask
NGOs in Sweden, South
Africa, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Finland, Chile, Portugal, Peru, Switzerland
and Oman to emphasize this to their governments.

Finally, the GWA regrets that discussions over the Berlin Initiative have
taken place without wider consultation with the whale NGO movement.
This is particularly unfortunate given that some NGOs behind this initiative
have lobbied for the adoption of the RMS in the past. Obviously this
makes the motives behind the 'Berlin Initiative' open to misinterpretation,
not only by their NGO colleagues, but more importantly by IWC member
governments who may see it as a way to progress and complete the
deadlocked RMS.

The GWA was formed to unite the welfare and conservation community in
fighting the negotiated resumption of commercial whaling. We believe that
only by working together can we hope to win for the whales. If the Berlin
Initiative represents a genuine attempt to redefine the role of the IWC for
the protection of all whales and their environment it is to be welcomed.
However, the GWA cannot accept this at the price of agreement on the
resumption of commercial whaling.We are sure that many of you will
agree.

For further information please contact:: info@global-whale-alliance.org 

Best wishes

Andy Ottaway

Campaign Whale

Tami Drake

Ocean Defense International

On behalf of the Global Whale Alliance

The Global Whale Alliance is fighting the resumption of commercial
whaling and all threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises and the
marine environment. Email: info@ global-whale-alliance.org
Website: www.global-whale-alliance.org