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Latin America and the Caribbean more united than ever in defense of whales

Montevideo, Uruguay, 7 August, 2013 (CCC News) – On the occasion of the tenth meeting of Latin American commissioners to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) – known as Buenos Aires Group – which is taking place in Uruguay, more than 70 civil society organizations from Latin America, the Caribbean and international delivered a letter to the Group expressing “concerns and requests to face the challenges in relation to the conservation and non-lethal use of cetaceans within the IWC.”

Among them is the need for the Buenos Aires Group to publicly reiterate their support for Australia’s position in relation to the legal action this country presented under the International Court of Justice against the so-called japanese “scientific” whaling in Antarctica. For the signatories of the letter this will reaffirm commitment of the Buenos Aires Group to the integrity of whale sanctuaries “especially considering to progress made towards the adoption of the proposal (to create) the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary” that is led by the Group at the IWC.

The NGOs also request the government of Panama to “take actions to prevent the involvement of the region in the controversial whaling operations (from Japan) conducted in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary” by removing the flag of that country to the South Korean ship Sun Laurel that supplies fuel and assists the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica.

Regarding the new regime of plenary meetings every two years of the IWC, which includes the formation of a bureau where the interests of the region will be represented by the commissioner of Panama, the organizations stressed the need for the bureau to operate transparently, ensuring timely access to information about its meetings and issues discussed.

In relation to the unilateral decision of Denmark/Greenland to continue the killing of whales for alleged aboriginal subsistence purposes – despite that last year’s the renewal of these catches were rejected by the IWC because of its commercial nature and constant breaches of basic requirements established by the Commission – the civil society organizations request the Buenos Aires Group to strongly reject the decision of Denmark /Greenland and urge the country to remove all the commercial components of these killings.

On the conservation of small cetaceans, the NGOs call the on commissioners Colombia and Brazil to take immediate action to stop the killing of more than two thousand dolphins in the Amazon River as a result of pot fishery of and work with members of the Buenos Aires Group to ensure the conservation of the species throughout its range.

The organizations also request to work in conjunction with the Buenos Aires Group towards a proposal to improve civil society participation in the International Whaling Commission and commended the efforts of the Dominican Republic to strengthen ties with St. Vincent and Grenadines for developing watching tourism as a truly sustainable alternative to the controversial killings that take place in this last Caribbean nation under alleged aboriginal subsistence whaling purposes.

The NGOs also celebrate Uruguay’s efforts to establish a whale sanctuary in its waters and encourage all governments that have not yet done so to declare their jurisdictional waters as whale pritected areas in order to consolidate the Whale Sanctuary Corridor in the Americas.

Finally the organizations expressed that “that as a result of these days of work it can establish a strategy for strengthening the Buenos Aires Group by creating a pro tempore secretariat to move forward and in a coordinated manner on a communication plan and joint actions, with a view to the upcoming meetings of the International Whaling Commission”.

Elsa Cabrera, director of the Cetacean Conservation Center in Chile and coordinator of this joint regional action,said “We are optimistic about the requests and proposals delivered to the Buenos Aires Group as they have the significant solid support of more than 70 organizations representing the interests of millions of people in more than 25 countries of our region in relation to the conservation of cetaceans and that are expecting a positive public response from regional authorities“.

Download the letter here.

Source: Cetacean Conservation Center