Chance to make positive change for whales as international meeting begins in Jersey

Monday, 11 July, 2011
St Helier, Jersey
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has been in troubled waters but now has the opportunity to chart a new course for the forum and a better future for whales, as its annual meeting opens in Jersey today (Monday).

IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare is urging delegates from the IWC’s 89 member countries to adopt a policy of greater openness and accountability to ensure the organisation runs effectively and to safeguard its credibility. In recent years the IWC has been stung by widely reported accusations of corruption

This comes at a time when, sadly, whales face more threats than ever before and IFAW believes new measures are vital to bring the IWC in line with similar organisations and to provide increased protection for whales, particularly from the cruelty of commercial whaling.

In addition to whaling, whales face a daily struggle against many other threats including man-made ocean noise, entanglements in fishing gear and marine debris, ship strikes, pollution and climate change.

The UK Government has put forward proposals for this year’s meeting aimed at improving the transparency and effectiveness of the IWC.

If adopted, the proposals would reduce secrecy in the IWC, outlaw cash payments and ensure improved governance and proper and timely reporting of Commission decisions.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “Either countries are serious about rescuing the credibility of the IWC or they are not. There is no good reason for any country to oppose these modest rule changes. We reject the notion that this Commission cannot pull itself together and adopt these much-needed reforms.”

Elsewhere on the meeting’s agenda, Japan has signalled a proposal aimed at legitimising existing coastal whaling with IWC approval.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary. There is no humane way to kill a whale and with little appetite for whale meat these days, meat from slaughtered whales frequently lies unused in frozen storage. IFAW promotes responsible whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative to the cruelty of whaling.

Ramage added: “Our planet's great whales face more threats today than ever. One can be easily solved – by finally ending commercial whaling. The task before the IWC in the 21st Century is to advance whale conservation, not whale killing.”

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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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