Whales Need US: More than 50 members of Congress and 20 Conservation Groups Call for U.S. Leadership to Protect Whales

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Washington, D.C.
The “Whales Need US” coalition, an unprecedented joint effort of 20 U.S.-based environmental, conservation and animal welfare organizations, representing more than 15 million people, today urged the Bush Administration to intensify its efforts to end commercial whaling.
New U.S. poll results on attitudes toward whaling show the vast majority of the American public opposes commercial whaling and supports greater protection for whales, while polling data from Japan shows that a sizeable majority of the Japanese public does not support whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A national survey of 1,000 registered U.S. voters conducted on behalf of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) by Market Strategies, Inc., in late March found:

  • 78% oppose commercial whaling
  • 78% are concerned about the hunting of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
  • 59% would be more likely to vote for a Presidential candidate who took a firm stand against Japanese whaling
  • More than 50% would be willing to stop buying Japanese products to convince the Japanese Government to stop its scientific research whaling

In a related initiative, the coalition praised the bipartisan group of 56 members of Congress, led by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who sent a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, instructing them to fight harder for whale conservation and against commercial whaling at the upcoming International Whaling Commission meeting to be held this May in Anchorage, Alaska.  The letter was also signed by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), and expresses the views of the two committee chairmen with oversight authority of the U.S.'s delegation to the IWC. 

The IWC is the international body charged with managing the world's whale populations.  A moratorium on commercial whaling was established in 1986 by the IWC, yet more than 20,000 whales have been killed since then for commercial purposes.

"With the IWC meeting being held on U.S. soil for the first time since 1989, the upcoming meeting provides an opportunity for the United States to reestablish itself as a leader on whale conservation," said Rep. Rahall.  "The United States has the opportunity to reverse the current trend within the commission and work with like-minded countries to safeguard the moratorium on commercial whaling and advance a strong conservation agenda that addresses the many and varied threats that confront the world's whales and dolphins," he continued.

The Whales Need US Coalition:
American Cetacean Society
Animal Welfare Institute
Cetacean Society International
The Cousteau Society
Defenders of Wildlife
Dolphin Connection
Earth Island Institute
Environmental Investigation Agency
Greenpeace USA
The Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
International Wildlife Coalition
Natural Resources Defense Council
The Ocean Conservancy
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Sierra Club
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
The Whaleman Foundation
World Society for the Protection of Animals
World Wildlife Fund US
For More Information: www.whalesneedus.org

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Isabel McCrea, Regional Director, Oceania
Regional Director, Oceania
IFAW Japan Representative
IFAW Japan Representative
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Whales