Fate of world's whales to be decided at international meeting

Friday, 25 May, 2007
Anchorage, Alaska
Representatives from more than 70 nations will convene May 28th through June 1st, 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska for the 59th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to decide whether a 1986 global moratorium on whaling should be lifted, allowing whales to be hunted commercially.
The meeting is expected to be contentious, with pro-whaling Japan pushing for a lifting of the ban, and conservation groups, including IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), in attendance to call for global whale protection.
Despite the global moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan currently hunts more than 1,200 whales a year for what it calls “scientific” whaling, in abuse of an IWC loophole that allows for the lethal research of whales. Whales hunted by Japan as part of its whaling program are processed and sold commercially within Japan. This year the nation has added 50 humpback whales to its self-allocated quota.
“Japan’s scientific whaling program about whaling not science,” said Patrick Ramage, head of IFAW’s Global Whale Campaign. “The best whale science in the 21st century involves studying live whales in their ocean habitats, not slaughtering them for cans of whale meat. We respectfully ask the Government of Japan to withdraw its announced plans to kill 50 magnificent whales later this year in an international sanctuary."
If Japan succeeds in controlling a simple majority of votes at next week's meeting, pro-whaling nations would have the power to reverse many whale conservation IWC initiatives, and would likely replace these with pro-whaling initiatives -- putting the world’s whales in more jeopardy than ever.
IFAW experts will be attending this year’s meeting of the IWC. To learn more about IFAW’s global campaign to protect whales, and how you can join this important campaign, visit www.stopwhaling.org today.

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Jennifer Ferguson-Mitchell (IFAW, Headquarters)
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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
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation