'They're killing us': world's most endangered tribe cries for help
Although the creation of whale sanctuaries are an integral part of the work conducted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), some countries like Japan, Iceland and Norway oppose without any reason to the establish...ment of these marine protected areas. Some even hunt protected and endangered species in areas designated as whale sanctuaries by the IWC, as is the case of Japan and the killing of minke and fin whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Currently there are two whale sanctuaries created under the IWC. These are located in the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean respectively.
The first, promoted by the government of Seychelles islands was established in 1979. The second, proposed by the government of France, was established in 1994. Both cover millions of square miles and protect dozens of whale species.
More than twenty years have passed since the creation of the last whale sanctuary. New and increasing environmental and sanitary threats - along with aggressive whaling policies - make it more necessary than ever to establish new marine protected areas for cetaceans in international waters.
Since 2001 the governments of Brazil and Argentina have lead a proposal to establish a new whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean. This key proposal for the effective protection of many whale species has the support of all the Latin American countries that are members of the IWC and that is known as the “Buenos Aires Group”.
At least 54 species of cetaceans would be protected in all the South Atlantic Ocean if the proposal is adopted during the next annual meeting of the IWC that will be conducted in Panama in July, 2012. Many of them correspond to great whale species that migrate from their northern reproductive areas to the Antarctic and sub Antarctic region to feed during austral summer months. Therefore, the protection currently granted by the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is not enough to protect these species of possible future whaling operations in international waters in the South Atlantic.
Additionally, all the advances achieved through non-lethal scientific research of whales and whale watching operations in Latin America and the Caribbean are constantly threaten by the increasing pressure of Japan and other nations to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling and begin large scale industrial whaling operations in the southern hemisphere. Therefore, the creation of a new whale sanctuary is fundamental to guarantee the long-term sustainability of the scientific and productive activities related to the non-lethal use of cetaceans in the South Atlantic basin.
While certain whaling nations argue that the creation of whale sanctuaries lacks legal support, the proposal of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary is totally consistent with international law. The United Nations Convention (Articles 64 and 194 of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea), the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IWC itself, have protection/conservation measures for cetaceans and/or recognize the non-lethal/non-extractive use of biodiversity.
Although the solid scientific, legal and economic arguments that justify the creation of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, after a decade presenting this key proposal, the ideological opposition of whaling countries has halted its adoption. In particular, the implementation of a corrupt policy of “vote buying” by Japan in the IWC, has effectively stopped the proposal from obtaining the 75% of the votes necessary for its adoption.
Although the efforts and money invested by the government of Japan to halt the adoption of the sanctuary, the support for the proposal has systematically increased during the years it has been presented for a vote by the Commission.
After a three year pause due to a failed negotiation process that seek t