Nations meet to decide fate of world’s whales

Monday, 28 May, 2007
Anchorage, Alaska
Representatives from more than 70 nations are convening today May 28th through June 1st, 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska for the 59th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to decide whether whales should be protected or commercially hunted. The meeting is expected to be contentious, with pro-whaling Japan pushing for a resumption of wide-scale, international commercial whaling, and conservation groups, including IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare -, in attendance to call for global whale protection.
Despite a 1986 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.
“The IWC is at a crucial crossroads,” said Patrick Ramage, head of IFAW’s Global Whale Campaign. “The emerging global consensus is that the IWC should be driven by conservation not killing,” he added.
Despite global outcry, Japan, Iceland and Norway continue to push for the global commercial hunting and trade of whales.
“We are hopeful that the great nation of Japan will reconsider its decision to harpoon 50 humpback whales this year in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary,” said Ramage. “Whales that are renowned for their acrobatic displays, drawing millions of whale watchers annually, and generating more than one billion dollars in income for coastal communities around the world,” he added.
One of the issues to be focused on at this year’s IWC meeting will be aboriginal subsistence whaling.
“IFAW does not campaign against aboriginal subsistence whaling,” said Ramage.

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 today.

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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