Conservation Coalition Excluded from Meeting about Fate of Whales

Friday, September 12, 2008
Washington D.C.
Whales Need US,’ a coalition of 20 animal protection and conservation organizations dedicated to ending commercial whaling, condemned the Bush Administration’s decision to hold a closed-door meeting of more than 20 countries to decide the future of the world’s whales. The meeting, to be held next week in St. Petersburg, Fla. is the result of a U.S. government-led effort to “fix” the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The ‘Whales Need US’ coalition today sent a letter (attached) to administration officials opposing the government’s decision to exclude conservation and animal protection organizations from the meeting.

“Negotiating the future of the world’s whale behind closed doors will only provide cover to those countries unwilling to participate in an open discussion and to be held accountable to their citizens,” said D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute.   “Instead of demanding that this meeting be open, the Bush Administration has colluded with Japan and its whale-killing allies to secretly decide the future of the world’s whales.”

William Hogarth, Ph.D, U.S. Commissioner to the IWC and current IWC Chair is the architect of this closed-door process which is intended to weaken the commercial whaling moratorium as part of a compromise with the whaling nations of Japan, Norway and Iceland. Japan has threatened to leave the IWC if progress is not made to “fix” this international body responsible for the conservation and management of the world’s whales

 “The ban on commercial whaling remains the single most important international conservation measure adopted to protect whales,” said Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International, “Lifting or weakening this ban will not “fix” the IWC, rather it will destroy what few protections remain for the worlds largest and most vulnerable species.”

Historically, the United States government has promoted the participation of non-governmental organizations in negotiations within international agreements. 

“Americans love whales and want them protected,” said Patrick Ramage, global whale program director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  “Instead, the Bush Administration is convening a closed-door meeting to compromise away the whaling ban.  This is not the American way.”

‘Whales Need US’ was formed in 2006 to combine the energy, ideas, and collective expertise of 20 conservation and animal protection organizations into a single coalition to end commercial whaling. For more information, please visit www.whalesneedus.org. 

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