Congress Passes Resolution To Strengthen IWC Involvement, Retain Moratorium On Commercial Whaling

(WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 19) – Congress voted late yesterday to pass
House Concurrent Resolution 350, calling on the U.S. to strengthen its
efforts through the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to protect
whale species and to help end commercial whaling as practiced by Japan,
Norway and Iceland. The 60th meeting of the IWC is scheduled for June
23-27 in Santiago, Chile.

“We welcome this resolution.  The American people and their elected
leaders clearly want the US to help end commercial whaling, and this
Congressional resolution should help ensure a strong U.S. position at
the 60th annual IWC meeting next week” said Patrick Ramage, Global
Whale Program Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare
(IFAW) and a key witness at a recent Congressional oversight hearing
held by the Natural Resources Committee House Subcommittee on
Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans.

“The United States, if it takes the
issue seriously, can change the situation for whales in the water
around the world and for the few whaling countries left at the IWC.
Engaged U.S. leadership is urgently needed if whales are to be
protected for future generations.”

The IWC issued a global commercial whaling ban in 1986, yet three
nations – Japan, Norway and Iceland – have disregarded the
long-standing moratorium by continuing to whale for commercial gain,
exploiting loopholes in the 1946 International Convention for the
Regulation of Whaling. As a result, the 60th meeting of the IWC has
raised significant debate throughout the whale conservation community.
As Chair of the Commission, however, the United States has an
unprecedented opportunity to influence the outcome of IWC 60 and the
future of the IWC. Says Ramage, “From sea to shining sea, Americans
love whales, and the U.S. has a record of leadership in whale
conservation of which all our citizens can be proud.  Now, American
leadership is once again needed to help end commercial whaling once and
for all.
IWC policies preserve the rights of Native populations to conduct
whaling for subsistence purposes, including whale hunts conducted by
Alaska Natives and clearly distinguish between such whaling and ongoing
commercial whaling by Japan, Norway and Iceland.  In past years, Japan
has sought to equate its commercial whaling plans with substance
whaling and even threatened to block IWC approval of limited whaling by
Alaska Natives.   “It is beneath the dignity of a great nation like
Japan to threaten the rights of native people while it continues to
kill whales in 2008 for products that nobody needs.”

Ramage also highlighted alternative measures taken to promote whale
conservation, including responsible whale watching, which IFAW analyses
indicate is now a US$ 1 billion dollar-a-year industry for coastal
communities and businesses in more than 90 countries and territories
worldwide.  “Animals and people both do better when whales are seen and
not hurt,” said Ramage.  “We are hopeful that with strong U.S.
leadership, next week’s IWC meeting will chart a new course for the
commission and whale conservation in the 21st century.”

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