During National Oceans Month, the U.S. makes a new resolution to protect the world’s whales
Reaffirming this country’s commitment to the oceans and celebrating the multitude of benefits these bodies of water offer, President Barack Obama declared June “National Ocean Month.” The world’s oceans are an important part of the global ecosystem and home to some of the most majestic species on the planet, including whales.
However, whales find themselves swimming through a sea of troubles, faced with more threats than at any other time in history, including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglements in fishing gear and marine debris, climate change, pollution and man-made ocean noise.
As the International Whaling Commission (IWC) prepares to meet in Panama City, Panama during the first week of July, every controversial issue concerning whales is potentially on the table. At a time when whales need U.S. leadership more than ever, I am happy to report that Representatives Bill Keating and Howard Berman have introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives about the importance of U.S. leadership in whale conservation in the IWC and in other international fora.
U.S. leadership was critical in establishing the worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling that was first proposed by President Reagan thirty years ago. U.S. leadership was critical in the successful designation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica in the early 1990s. And once again, as we head into the IWC, U.S. leadership is critical to end commercial whaling in all of its forms and to strengthen measures to conserve whale species.
As such, Representatives Keating and Berman are calling upon their colleagues to:
- strongly oppose commercial whaling and support use of all appropriate measures to end commercial whaling in any form, including for purposes of scientific research;
- seek to strengthen conservation and management measures to facilitate the conservation of whale species and populations, including support for the establishment of the South Atlantic Ocean whale sanctuary;
- urge the President and the international community to modernize the International Whaling Commission, consistent with other international conservation organizations, by expanding the participation of civil society, improving transparency and supporting efforts to improve its effectiveness; and
- support ongoing research efforts to understand, prevent or mitigate threats to whales and their habitat, such as ocean noise, marine debris, ship strikes, entanglements, contaminants and disease.
A heartfelt thank you to Representatives Keating and Berman for their continued support for the whales. We ask you to urge your Congressional representatives to follow suit and cosponsor this resolution—sending a signal to the world that the U.S. delegation will go to the IWC as a leader in whale conservation.