UK MPs show cross-party support for an end to commercial whaling

'Whale Flotilla'. A floating protest on the Thames River outside the Houses of Parliament, London during the 2001 International Whaling Convention, in London.I thought I’d share with you what sounds like a pretty dull and boring process in the UK parliament. It may sound dull and boring but it can bring about good results for animal welfare – in this case, for whales.

I’m pleased to say that many UK Members of Parliament have placed on record their opposition to international whaling by signing an IFAW-inspired Early Day Motion (EDM) condemning the actions of the Japanese whaling fleet and opposing the accession of Iceland to the European Union unless it ceases whaling.

By the close of the recent parliamentary session, signatures on the Motion tabled by Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood had overtaken the 100 mark (104), the number recognised by MPs and Ministers alike as being the point at which such Motions become significant. Whilst few Early Day Motions are actually debated on the floor of the House of Commons, they act as a barometer for issues regarded as important by backbench MPs.

Fewer than 100 of the 3,100 EDMs tabled in the past two years gained this level of support from MPs, and unlike many, this EDM was signed by members of eight different political parties, including those from the governing Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, and the main opposition Labour party. We know that governments of other countries take seriously these statements of intent by UK parliamentarians, and this very high level of support acts as a clear signal that the UK opposes whaling.

A number of MPs who signed up have seen IFAW’s commitment to combating whaling firsthand, having been aboard Song of the Whale or visited Iceland with us. Other MPs who can not sign EDMs have written to the Japanese Embassy pointing out the need to end this cruel slaughter.

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne MP stated that it is “encouraging that my fellow Parliamentarians are supporting the Government through Early Day Motion 2565…the Japanese government is in no doubt as to the strength of feeling in this country about the killing of all cetaceans, and of the Government’s policy”

The Motion called on the “Government to take diplomatic action at the highest level to urge Japan, Iceland and Norway to end their whaling for commercial purposes and to ensure that the International Whaling Commission becomes a true conservation body for the protection of whales”. With news that once again this year the UK intends to be represented at the IWC at ministerial level, we expect to see our Government taking a lead internationally to protect whales. With this level of parliamentary support, we know the issue cannot be ignored.

-- RM

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Whales