Whaling ban in jeopardy?

Tuesday, 30 March, 2010
Yarmouth Port, Mass.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) announced today that the worldwide whaling ban – in place since 1986 – may be overturned in the next 90 days.

This June, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will act on a plan to legalize whaling at its annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco. According to a front page article in yesterday’s Washington Post “delegates from around the world will decide in the coming weeks if they should condone commercial [whale] hunts once more.”

The IWC, which is comprised of 88-member governments, is the global body responsible for protecting our planet's great whales. Currently, three member countries – Japan, Norway, and Iceland – continue to hunt whales in defiance of the whaling moratorium. A draft plan, three years in the making, proposes annual whale-hunting quotas for these countries under the discretion of the IWC.

The draft proposal has been publicly released and an official proposal is set to be released on April 22. The current proposal would:

• Overturn the global ban on commercial whaling and allow hunting in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica.
• Approve the killing of whales for commercial purposes by Japan around Antarctica and in the North Pacific.
• Add new rights for Japan to hunt whales in its coastal waters.
• Allow continuing whaling by Iceland and Norway in violation of long-agreed scientific procedures and the global whaling ban.

“The global ban on commercial whaling is one of the greatest conservation achievements in history,” said Patrick Ramage, IFAW Whale Program Director. “This proposal aims to undo three decades of whale conservation by throwing a lifeline to a dying industry. And make no mistake, it will pass unless we act now to stop it.”  

Whales around the world face more threats today than ever. Commercial whaling, habitat destruction, ocean noise pollution, climate change, ship strikes, and entanglement in fishing gear kill thousands of whales annually. “Our planet’s great whales are battling for their lives,” said Ramage.  “They need us to fight for them.”  In the past year alone, legislation has been introduced into both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate which would increase protection of whales. The vision for greater whale conservation has wide support across cultures and political orientation.

“We hope and believe President Obama will do the right thing, dismiss this proposal and use the diplomatic power of the United States  to encourage Japan, Norway and Iceland to join governments worldwide working to protect whales instead of killing them for profit,” said Ramage.

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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
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation