Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. XV No. 1 - January 2006

The Buenos Aires Declaration

The Buenos Aires Declaration is reported here by Jose Truda Palazzo, Jr., Alternate Commissioner, Brazilian Delegation to the International Whaling Commission. CSI is grateful for permission to include it here.

November 8, 2005: In a direct response to Japan and other whaling countries who ignore the worldwide moratorium on the killing of whales, 13 Latin and Southern Hemisphere countries plus Spain signed a declaration today condemning "scientific whaling", supporting the continuation of the moratorium and reaffirming their right to use and manage whales through non-lethal means, in particular whale watching and benign research.

Invited by Ambassador Eduardo Iglesias, former Chairman of the Commission, the six IWC Commissioners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, plus the Commissioner from Spain and diplomatic representatives from Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay met during the 7th and 8th of November at the San Martin Palace, seat of the Argentinian diplomacy in Buenos Aires, and agreed to a six-point declaration and to establish a coordination of whale-related policies to ensure that their views and concerns are heard in relevant international fora.

The initiative coincides with the sailing of the Japanese "scientific" whaling fleet to the Antarctic, where Japan kills hundreds of whales annually in violation of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, established by the IWC in 1994.

"It's about time that not only the whaling nations, but other developed countries up North take notice of our concerns with the escalation of unregulated whaling, and also of our strong commitment to ensure that whale populations in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere recover from the criminal depletion brought about by commercial whaling", said Brazilian Alternate IWC Commissioner José Palazzo. "The newly formed consultative group will make sure no negotiations take place without considering our interests." The Latin and Southern Hemisphere votes would be essential to approve any compromise agreement at the IWC as envisaged by the whaling countries.

The Buenos Aires Declaration, which is being forwarded today to the IWC, expresses the interest of Latin and Southern Hemisphere countries in finding an accommodation of interests in the IWC but also reaffirms their support for the commercial whaling moratorium; defend whale watching and non-lethal uses as the most appropriate whale management regime for their regions, and reaffirm support for the establishment of Whale Sanctuaries in the South Atlantic and South Pacific oceans; and calls for a halt of all so-called "scientific whaling" and of all cruel whale killing practices.

An unprecedented warning was also sent through the Declaration regarding the need to recognize non-lethal use of whales as an inherent right of coastal communities in developing nations. Countries at the meeting committed to "reassert the rights of our coastal communities to benefit from the non-lethal use of whales just as other communities elsewhere benefit from aboriginal subsistence whaling" and "agreed to follow closely the developments related to this latter activity" - a clear message to Russia, which has aboriginal quotas and systematically opposes any pro-conservation initiatives at the IWC.

Countries present at the meeting also decided to consider alternative negotiating processes to end the deadlock at the IWC, taking fully into account their interest in non-lethal use. "Our priority is to end all whaling in the Southern Hemisphere, and we should be pooling our diplomatic efforts to that effect", according to Palazzo.

The next IWC meeting will take place in Cambridge in February 2006 in an attempt to overcome the differences and agree on a revised management scheme which could allow for a limited resumption of commercial whaling (if and when the IWC authorizes a whaling quota "other than zero"). Many nations present at the Buenos Aires meeting expressed skepticism about this goal and insisted that without a commitment to protect the Southern Hemisphere whale populations, their votes will not be cast in favor of such a scheme.

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