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Whale welfare put on the table at the IWC

Jun 24, 2010

Animal welfare was put firmly on the table at this year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

At the third day of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) the United Kingdom tabled a proposal to host a workshop on Animal Welfare and Ethics. The proposal was met by overwhelming support from Belgium, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Costa Rica, India and Brazil. WSPA warmly welcomes this opportunity before the IWC to seriously address the fundamental welfare problems of commercial whaling.

WSPA’s Marine Mammal Program Manager, Joanna Toole, said: “WSPA is delighted that the UK’s proposal to hold an Animal Welfare and Ethics Workshop was so broadly and warmly welcomed, with more than ten IWC member nations voicing their full support. The workshop will give the IWC much needed information on international animal welfare science and policies, and will allow the Commission to make enlightened and progressive decisions on this important issue. WSPA commends the UK for their strong welfare voice. We look forward to working alongside them to ensure the workshop is a success - both for the IWC and for whales.”

Unquestionable whale cruelty

During the official NGO session on the fourth day of the meeting, Siri Martinsen, Director of NOAH – for dyrs rettigheter, spoke on behalf of NOAH and WSPA member society Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge. One of the key issues she presented was the cruelty of the Norwegian whaling, as a recent investigation between WSPA, NOAH and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge clearly illustrated.

In her intervention, Siri Martinsen said: “I wish to briefly refer to a film we captured of a Norwegian whale hunt last month. The film shows an experienced whaler trying to hit and kill a whale under perfect weather conditions - and failing to succeed. We have consulted with external veterinarians and based on the footage the most likely scenario is that the whale was indeed struck and lost. The whaling vessel claims that the whale was not hit, but both scenarios illustrate the same main point: whalers shooting a moving animal from a moving platform cannot reliably achieve an accurate lethal harpoon shot. The margins for error in commercial whaling are simply too high, and so is the suffering inflicted.”

Closer to whale welfare

As this year’s meeting is nearing its end, WSPA reflects with relief that the proposal before the IWC to condemn 13,000 whales to death over the next 10 years was not adopted and the commercial whaling ban remains intact. We will use the coming months to prepare for the Animal Welfare and Ethics workshop and will be working hard to ensure that governments around the world act to protect whales, not whaling.

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