Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. XVI No. 2 - April 2007


Whale Symposium in New York

By Dr. Robbins Barstow, CSI Director Emeritus


A potentially highly significant international meeting about whales and whaling is being held this April in New York City. A "Symposium on the State of the Conservation of Whales in the 21st Century," organized by a global environmental body known as the Varda Group and sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is convening on April 12-13 at United Nations Headquarters.

The objective of the symposium is to analyze options for the conservation of whales, specifically exploring policies for resolving the current impasse over commercial whaling at the International Whaling Commission.

Participation in the symposium is by invitation only, and includes people from the margins of the IWC community (government representatives, NGOs, scientists), as well as those with wide expertise in conservation, law, and other relevant fields. Confirmed participants include 60 people representing 25 different nationalities.

The two-day meeting will center around four themes:

  • state of the world's whale stocks: implications for policy makers
  • developments in oceans law from 1946 to 2006: is the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling outdated?
  • whaling diplomacy: why has it been so difficult to find an acceptable solution?
  • the way(s) forward.

The Pew-sponsored NY Symposium will be chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, President of the New Zealand Law Commission and Commissioner to the IWC. Coordinating this exceptional gathering is Remi Parmentier, Director of the Varda Group.

Though quite differently framed, the symposium is reminiscent of the 1983 breakthrough "Global Conference on the Non-Consumptive Utilization of Cetacean Resources," held in Boston twenty-four years ago. This was the far-reaching "Whales Alive" Conference, coordinated by the Cetacean Society International and cosponsored by the IWC, Greenpeace, IFAW and a number of other international conservation organizations.

A report on the outcome of the April NY Symposium will be distributed over the Internet through an agreement with the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (http://www.iisd.ca/).

The Varda Group also intends to organize a small side-event in Anchorage in the margins of the 59th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission, at the end of May, which will be informed by ideas arising from the Symposium.

For more information, contact whales@vardagroup.org.


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