International Whale Commission | UPSC
How much is a whale worth?
WHY IN NEWS:
One whale is worth thousands of trees — and about two million dollars. It stores about 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Conservation of Biodiversity
For PRELIMS we have covered all the aspects of IWC . Role , aim , membership , convention etc .
For MAINS do you think it is important to device a framework at national level too ?
But how do we calculate the value of a whale?
WHALES IN ECOSYSTEM SERVICE
- Whales can help fight climate change and provide an ecosystem service worth millions of dollars.
- Whales combat carbon naturally.
- Big whales such as filter-feeding baleen and sperm whales help sequester carbon.
- They hoard carbon in their bodies, stockpiling tonnes of it, like trees (if they could swim).
- This means one whale can do the job of 1,500 trees.
- When a whale dies, its carcass sinks to the bottom of the sea.
- It becomes a literal carbon sink.
- They provide a special eco-service called the ‘whale pump’.
- These plumes are floating masses of faeces rich in iron, phosphorus and nitrogen.
- These are exactly the substances that plankton needs to grow.
- Plankton captures about 40 per cent of all carbon dioxide produced worldwide !
- According to the International Whale Commission, several species are now in the process of recovering.
A one per cent recovery of the population could increase plankton that could help capture millions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide each year.
- Scientists estimate that there are over 80 species of cetacean.
- This distinctive and charismatic group includes the largest animal that ever lived and the longest-lived mammal.
- Some cetacean species demonstrate highly developed methods of communication including long and complex ‘songs’.
INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION
- The International Whaling Commission is an Inter-governmental Organisation whose purpose is the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.
- This Convention was established in 1946, making it one of the first pieces of international environmental legislation.
- All member countries of the IWC are signatories to this Convention.
- The IWC has a current membership of 88 Governments from countries all over the world.
- The IWC is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.
- The IWC currently has 88 member governments from countries all over the world.
- The Commission’s role has expanded since its establishment in 1946.
- Membership of the IWC is open to any country in the world that formally adheres to the 1946 Convention.
- Each member country is known as a Contracting Government and represented by a Commissioner, who is assisted by experts and advisers.
- The Chair and Vice-chair are elected from among the Commissioners.
- The IWC was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed in Washington DC on 2nd December 1946.
- The preamble to the Convention states that its purpose is to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks .
- Thus it make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
STRUCTURE AND ORGANISATION
- Some of these sub-groups are long term, standing committees and some are established to complete a specific piece of work.
- The groups are chaired by Commissioners, other members of national delegations or subject matter experts from within the wider IWC community.
The IWC has a full-time Secretariat with headquarters located near the City of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
- The IWC is committed to robust and transparent financial management.
The size of contribution varies between governments depending on three factors:
- The size of their delegation at the most recent biennial Commission meeting.
- Any whaling activity that they may have undertaken;
- The government’s capacity to pay.
- There are more than one million whales in our oceans.
- The question is, can they return to their pre-whaling numbers? 5 million ?
- The appropriate way to move ahead would be to first double that number, which will take approximately 30 years.
- IMF was able to quantify whales in the language of economics, making them an international public good.
- This is a way through which we can save the whales. If we save them, they can save us.
Humpback whales have recovered strongly in the western South Atlantic and their current population is close to around 25,000.