Fears for the world's whales as future of commercial whaling ban is negotiated at meeting 'held in secret' in UK

Thursday, 4 December, 2008
London, United Kingdom
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) is concerned that negotiations at a meeting taking place ‘in secret’ in the UK next week could jeopardise the future of the worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC), responsible for whale conservation, is holding a three-day Small Working Group meeting in Cambridge from Monday with delegates from around 24 countries expected to attend. The aim of the meeting is to move the Commission beyond the apparent deadlock between pro-whaling and conservation-minded countries on a number of items, including the ban on commercial whaling.

The IWC denies that this and other Small Working Group meetings are ‘secret’, but is holding them behind closed doors with no NGOs or other observers allowed to attend or to see many of the documents discussed. IFAW opposes any compromise on the international moratorium on commercial whaling, in place since 1986, and will have a presence outside the meeting in a bid to engage with delegates and remind them that whales need protecting.

Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s whales programme director, said: “IFAW opposes commercial and so-called scientific whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary – there is no humane way to kill a whale. The international moratorium on commercial whaling needs to be strengthened, not weakened as the world’s whales face more threats than ever before from increased whaling, entanglement in fishing nets, pollution, ship strikes and man-made ocean noise.

“Right now Japan’s whalers are on their way to an internationally recognised sanctuary for whales in Antarctica where their harpoons will be trained on almost 1,000 whales. As a show of good faith at the meeting we urge Japan to abandon its whaling programme. And we call on all of those attending the meeting in Cambridge not to compromise on whale protection.”

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation