Regulatory News

Environmentalist, José Truda Palazzo, Jr. is president of the International Wildlife Coalition in Brazil (IWC/Brasil), a member of the IBAMA Special Group for Aquatic Mammals, co-founder of the Right Whale Project with Vice Admiral Ibsen de Gusmão Câmara in 1982, and vice commissioner of Brazil for the International Whaling Committee (CIB) - currently, interim commissioner. In this interview, divided into three parts, Truda initially discusses what changed with the transformation of the Brazilian coast into a whale and dolphin sanctuary, started in December, and talks about the fight for the creation of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. In June, there will be a new round on the Madeira Islands where the next CIB meeting will be held. In the next two weeks, the environmentalist will comment on the importance of the National Oil Regulatory Agency (ANP) monitoring guides, and the view on the expansion of whale-watching tourism.

CRE: What has changed since the founding of the Right Whale Project nearly 30 years ago?

Truda: The whale population has grown considerably up to the present. And with the protection measures and the tourism stimulus, it has become the symbol for the state of Santa Catarina. Comprehension of the animal has changed. Twenty years ago, many fishermen were afraid of the whales and threw flares at them when they were nearby. Today, there is total respect. When I started, you had to walk kilometers to catch sight of a mother with her calf along the Santa Catarina coast. Now, during the season, it is almost 100% certain you will see whales everyday in the best observation locations.

In a practical way, what does the transformation of the Brazilian coast into a whale sanctuary mean?

There have been two important repercussions. The first is nationally: despite it being prohibited to hunt whales in Brazil since 1987, there was nothing more formal in relation to the state's policy. Now there is. A twenty-year infernal discussion has just ended on what is to be supported as sustainable hunting. State policy is formally non-lethal use. The other is the international repercussion to reinforce movement toward the creation of the South Atlantic sanctuary that has been going on since 1998.

What is lacking for the South Atlantic sanctuary to become a reality?

Not enough votes. The last vote at the CIB meeting was two years ago, and we got 60% in favor of the sanctuary. But any CIB decision needs 75% of the votes for approval. The next vote will be in June on Madeira Island. A set of measures that will please both sides is being negotiated; a consensus package. Japan is asking to legitimize internal, coastal hunting. We are asking for a sanctuary. We can come to an agreement, but we have to see what is being proposed. The end of so-called scientific hunting has to be included. The convention from 1946 is outdated and allows anything to be hunted for the scientific purposes. Since 1986, commercial hunting has been prohibited, but Japan uses this hunting for scientific reasons loophole for commercial purposes. These animals end up on the market and not in the laboratory. We want to put an end to this and create a sanctuary, but give something in return, which could be coastal hunting. For Brazil, the primary interest is to get rid of hunting in the southern hemisphere, which has the potential for non-lethal use like research and tourism, and create a sanctuary.

What other countries insist on whale hunting, in addition to Japan? And how can it be guaranteed these countries will respect the sanctuaries, like the one on the Brazilian coast?

Japan coordinates a block of small countries that support hunting in exchange for economic assistance. They are countries like the Congo, the Republic of Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, Grenada, Saint Lucia…. And in Europe, there is Iceland and Norway. Currently, the whale meat market is restricted for Japan, Iceland, Norway, and a little for South Korea. It is a market that is very much monitored. There is no way to put meat from a hunted whale on the Brazilian market because everything is monitored.

Next week, the importance of the monitoring guides in oil and natural gas prospecting.

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