EU joins conservation tide to increase protection for whales at IWC

EU joins conservation tide to increase protection for whales at IWC
Tuesday, 16 September, 2014
Portoroz, Slovenia

An important resolution to provide increased protection to whales around the world was passed despite pro-whaling countries opposing it and a vote being forced on the second day of the 65th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has strongly backed the resolution from the start and welcomed the result as a positive step for whales. The resolution aims to provide greater coherent global action for the world’s 80+ marine cetacean species.

The measure on Highly Migratory Species, proposed by Monaco, will allow for greater involvement by other international organisations, such as the UN, on whaling and other threats to whales. The IWC currently only has measures in place for 17 of the 81 marine cetacean species and protection for remaining species involves issues that cannot be solved by the IWC acting alone.

However, hopes that the resolution would pass by consensus were dashed when Japan and the pro-whaling bloc opposed it, forcing a vote which went through 37-15, with seven abstentions.

IFAW Whales Programme Director Patrick Ramage said: “We are delighted that this important conservation measure for whales has been passed, showing that small countries can make big waves for whales at the IWC. We were pleased to see the pro-conservation countries stand together to adopt a common position and give it safe passage. We were also relieved to see that the EU was able to get its act together and support it as a bloc.

“Sadly the pro-whaling countries showed their true colours and opposed collaboration to address international conservation threats. We need the conservation-minded countries to continue to stand together to support other vital measures being considered this week.”

A number of other key issues related to whaling and whale conservation are still to be considered at the four-day meeting, not least New Zealand’s resolution aimed at protecting a recent landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Japan’s ‘scientific whaling’ in the Antarctic was illegal and must stop.

Ramage added: “The ICJ ruling provided whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with protection against slaughter for the first time in more than a century. It would be a travesty if Japan were allowed to circumvent this judgment.”`     

Despite initially announcing it would comply with the March 2014 ruling, Japan has stated its intention to resume whaling in Antarctica as early as next year with a new ‘scientific whaling’ programme.

Other issues still on the table at this critical meeting include proposals for Japanese coastal whaling and the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.

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 meeting and are available for interview.

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

Skype interviews are available on request.

IFAW’s team in Slovenia are providing regular video blogs from the meeting via

Follow IFAW updates on Twitter via @Action4IFAW and @IFAWUKPress

Images and footage available for media use by registering with

IWC documents are available here:

IWC/65/11, Draft Resolution on Highly Migratory Species (Monaco) -

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Clare Sterling (IFAW UK)
Contact mobile:
+44 (0)7917 507717
Contact email:


Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime