A Report of the Second Pew Whale Symposium: A Change in Climate for Whales

The Second Pew Whale Symposium, entitled “A change in climate for whales,” took place at UN University Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on 30-31 January 2008.

This symposium, organized by the Pew Environment Group, followed the first Pew Whale Symposium, held in New York in April 2007. It preceded an Intersessional Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) on the future of the whale conservation regime, in March 2008. The Pew Symposia seek to identify a common way forward to address the current stalemate between proponents of a resumption of commercial whaling and advocates of the continuation of the current moratorium.

The New York Symposium brought together the conservation community, scientists, policy experts, and others from inside the “IWC community” and beyond. The Tokyo Symposium continued this approach by stimulating open dialogue in the heart of the main pro-whaling country. The meeting brought together around 100 participants of 28 nationalities. Discussions focused on: views from Japan; conflict management and biodiversity; finding a way forward; and the IWC process and its future.

The meeting was characterized by a remarkably cordial atmosphere, which many participants praised as a welcome change from many other meetings addressing whales. Participants particularly appreciated the significant Japanese representation and the reflection of a wide range of views from Japan. The meeting agreed on a few key principles, such as the need to protect endangered whales, but also identified areas of continuing disagreement. Several recommendations were made to help move the debate forward. These, together with an overview of the meeting's discussions, will be presented as a Chair's summary – not a consensus document – to the upcoming IWC Intersessional Meeting.