Pro-whaling countries again harpoon plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary

Pro-whaling countries again harpoon plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary
Tuesday, 11 September, 2018
Florianopolis, Brazil

During day two of the 67th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Florianopolis, Brazil, plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary failed again due to opposition from pro-whaling nations.

The proposal, put forward by Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, South Africa and Uruguay, aimed to provide a comprehensive approach to conservation for cetaceans, involving the management of all threats to whales in the region, not just the threat of whaling.

Despite strong support from conservationists, the proposal could not achieve consensus so was pushed to a vote by host nation Brazil, and failed to achieve the three-quarters majority needed for adoption (39 for, 25 against and three abstentions). A proposal for a sanctuary in the region has been tabled at almost every IWC meeting since 1999 but has always been blocked by pro-whaling nations.

This proposal, like that tabled at IWC66 in Portoroz, Slovenia two years ago, included a comprehensive management plan to also address other threats to whales including ship strikes and ocean noise pollution, and it had garnered wide support ahead of the meeting.

Patrick Ramage, Marine Conservation Programme Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said: “We are very disappointed that once again, despite strong host country and regional support, a proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary has been harpooned. This comes at a time when whales face more threats than ever before, and with greater recognition today of their vital importance to the marine ecosystem.

“A sanctuary in this region would have provided strong protection to a wide range of whale and dolphin species. Non-lethal whale research in this area has already provided valuable data on whales and a sanctuary would have built on this further, giving us far more useful and precise information than has ever been gained from so-called scientific whaling.”

As well as affording greater protection to whales, a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary would have brought real benefit to coastal communities with the promotion and management of responsible whale watching. The failure of this proposal is therefore a blow to the region and development of this sustainable industry.

Cetaceans found in the South Atlantic include blue, humpback, fin, minke, sperm, sei and southern right whales.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for people.


Notes to Editors –

IFAW whale experts are attending the IWC meeting and are available for interview.

For more information or to arrange interviews with IFAW’s team at IWC67 please contact Clare Sterling in Brazil on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email


Skype interviews are available on request.

Follow IFAW updates on Twitter via @Action4IFAW and @IFAWUKPress

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IWC documents are available here:


About IFAW

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.



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