Sara Holden, our International whales campaign coordinator, blogs from the 61st International Whaling Conference in Madeira, Portugal. Even though for the first time in years the anti-whaling nations have a decent majority on the IWC, genuine protection for whales still remains low on the agenda.
As metaphors go, how about this? The IWC meeting is being held in a casino - and anyone betting on a good outcome for the whales would be unlikely to win. Equally aprt, just a few minutes before the opening of the 61st International Whaling Commission meeting, a large rat was seen scuttling through the hotel and out the door. Not a bad illustration of what's going on here.
After 12 months of talking and achieving nothing of substance, the smart money says another 12 months of talking is the only thing on the cards. At the opening of the meeting, the organisers of the IWC announced that they hoped there would be no voting, no surprises, and that resolutions that might only pass by a small majority should not be encouraged.
In some years the balance of power rests on a knife edge between those who want to take the IWC into the 21st century, stop whaling and address the modern threats to whales and those who want to maintain a 19th century outlook and continue to hunt whales. But this year there's a 60/40 majority on our side. Is that good news? But anyone thinking that meant 'job done' would be sorely disappointed.