International Whaling Commission meeting closes with course set for whale conservation

Monday, 29 June, 2009
(Madeira, Portugal – June 26, 2009) – The 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) closed today after a week that saw decisions on controversial issues largely postponed for subsequent meetings while a range of countries made new commitments to international whale conservation efforts.

Patrick Ramage, whale programme director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said: “The IWC continues its migration from commercial whaling to whale conservation. We are encouraged that the IWC avoided bad compromises and by the attention governments devoted to discussions of whale watching and new whale research and conservation initiatives.

“The IWC Conservation Committee received unprecedented numbers of reports from member countries in Madeira, and a new Commission resolution on climate change sponsored by the US and Norway received consensus support.”

But as this IWC annual meeting draws to a close, threats to whales and the IWC remain.

Ramage added: “Japan, Iceland and Norway killed whales for commercial purposes during this meeting. It’s time for the last three countries to join the emerging global consensus for whale protection in the 21st Century.”

A new IFAW report released during the Madeira meeting documents the continuing dramatic growth and expanding economic contribution of whale watching worldwide.

The new, country by country economic analysis shows more than 13 million people took whale watching tours last year in 119 countries worldwide, generating ticket fees and tourism expenditures of more than US$2.1 billion (around £1.27bn), during 2008.

The report also reveals the dramatic growth of the whale watching industry over the past decade. More than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world now employ an estimated 13,200 people.

Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, welcomed the new IFAW report which Australia formally introduced to all government delegations attending the Madeira meeting. The full report is available at\whalewatchingworldwide

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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