IWC Meeting Closes, Course Set for Whale Conservation

Friday, June 26, 2009
Madeira, Portugal
The sixty-first annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) closed here today after welcoming a week that saw controversial issues largely put off to subsequent meetings and a host of new commitments from a broad range of countries for international whale conservation efforts. “The IWC continues its migration from commercial whaling to whale conservation,” said Patrick Ramage, whale program director for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).

“We are encouraged that the IWC avoided bad compromises and by the attention governments devoted to discussions of whale watching and new whale research and conservation initiatives,” Ramage said. “The IWC Conservation Committee received unprecedented numbers of reports from member countries in Madeira and a new Commission resolution on climate change sponsored by the US and Norway received consensus support.”

But as this IWC annual meeting draws to a close, threats to whales and the IWC remain. “Japan, Iceland and Norway killed whales for commercial purposes during this meeting, Ramage said. “It’s time for the last three countries to join the emerging global consensus for whale protection in the 21st century.”
A new IFAW report to be released during the Madeira meeting documents the continuing dramatic growth and expanding economic contribution of whale watching worldwide.

The new, country-by-country economic analysis shows more than 13 million people took whale watching tours last year in 119 countries worldwide, generating ticket fees and tourism expenditures of more than US$2.1 billion during 2008. The report also shows dramatic growth of the whale watching industry over the past decade. More than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world now employ an estimated 13,200 people.

Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, welcomed the new IFAW report which Australia formally introduced to all government delegations attending the Madeira meeting. The full report is available at www.ifaw.org\whalewatchingworldwide

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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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