CaribWorldNews, MADEIRA, Portugal, Thurs. June 25, 2009: Financial help is on the way. That`s the decision of the International Whaling Commission to help ease the burden on its small developing member-states in the Caribbean.
`We recognize the burden of the costs on Caribbean countries, indeed on all the member-states that are developing countries so they participate in the deliberations that are ongoing about the future of the IWC,` said William Hogarth, the retiring Commission Chairman who is from the United States. `We support the need for financial help for these countries and we have been providing it.`
As Caribbean nations feel the negative effects of the global economic downturn, their governments are said to be hard pressed to find the funds to send their fisheries experts and commissioners to `meetings of the small working groups` in different parts of the world.
The working groups` goal is to devise a formula to resolve some of the intractable problems that have bedeviled the organization in the past 15 years.
Specifically, the IWC is providing funds to Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Vincent and St. Lucia as well as to a range of member-states in Central and South America, Africa and the Pacific so they can play a role in the search for an acceptable solution to such issues as the Revised Management Procedure, RMP, that would pave the way for a resumption of limited and tightly controlled whaling overseen by the Commission; the value of scientific whaling research conducted by Japan; and the sustainable use of the world`s marine resources, including whales.
And with the IWC scheduled to hold at least three more meetings of the `Working Groups` before next year`s 62nd annual meeting in Morocco, the need for assistance becomes apparent, say officials.
Hogarth, who was appointed to lead the U.S. delegation by the Republican Bush White House is due to leave office next month and will be replaced by an Obama Administration appointee. He said that deliberations leading to the conference in Morocco `were going to be crucial and we therefore need the involvement of the small developing countries.`
Anthony Liverpool, Antigua & Barbuda`s Commissioner, who is also chairman of the IWC`s Finance and Administration Committee, explained that both Japan and the United States had contributed to a special fund whose resources were used to help finance the presence of the Eastern Caribbean countries at three meetings in 2008-29, including sessions in Rome and Florida.
As much as (US)$100,000 was placed in the fund to help with the travel costs of developing countries.
`Caribbean countries were assisted last year and this year, and one can anticipate there will be about four or five meetings before Morocco,` said Liverpool. `These are meetings outside of what we call Commission meetings, such as the annual conference or inter-sessional deliberations that are held prior to the annual meeting. We can anticipate there are going to be about four or five of these kinds of meetings before Morocco.`
The working group sessions are the ones the IWC is subsidizing.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the lone whaling nation in the Caribbean, has already complained about the cost of being represented at the meetings. But its main contention is that its annual IWC dues are exorbitant and unfair.
Snagg, the St. Vincent IWC Commissioner, said that when the costs of sending delegates to the various meetings were added to the annual dues of about (EC) $58,000, the amount can be as much as (EC) $100,000.
He said that it was unreasonable to ask St. Vincent to pay more annual dues than say the United Kingdom.
Japan`s Joji Morishita, a senior official of the Fisheries Agency in Tokyo, said that his country had recognized the financial stressed being placed on developing countries represented at the IWC and that was why it was contributing to the Fund.
`The costs are real and in these troubling economic times, developing countries in the Caribbean and Africa for instance need help and that`s why we have contributed to the Fund,` he added.
`The developing countries have an important role to play in IWC deliberations and we want to hear what they have to say. They are members of the international community and should be heard. They will certainly need help to enable them to join the debate leading up to and at the meeting in Morocco.`