WSPA, NOAH – for dyrs rettigheder and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge today hosted a press conference at the 62nd meeting of the IWC. Under the overriding theme "World against whaling" it was made evident that in Norway, Latin America, New Zealand and Australia alike, people do not want to see a return to commercial whaling – they want to see an end to this cruel practice once and for all. Being joined by the Australian Minister for Environmental protection, Peter Garrett, the voices of the people were represented by the panel:
WSPA’s Marine Mammal Programs Manager, Joanna Toole, said: "WSPA campaigns all over the world against commercial whaling on the grounds of welfare – as there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea we believe it shouldn’t be allowed to happen at all. This is a position we hold regardless of whether you are talking about whaling in the southern or the northern hemisphere – a hunted whale will suffer which ever ocean it swims in."
Campaign Manager from WSPA Costa Rica, Marcela Vargas, said: "WSPA has been helping local NGOs primarily in Central America and the Caribbean promoting campaigns in their countries to raise the awareness of the importance of whales and most importantly to defend these animals at the IWC. We have established a constant dialogue with Latin-American commissioners to help our region to consolidate in a position in favor of whales."
The press conference was joined by the Australian Minister for Environmental protection, Peter Garrett, who congratulated WSPA for its work on whaling.
Highlighting the significant animal welfare issues associated with whaling, Joanna Toole made it clear that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.
Speaking alongside WSPA, NOAH – for dyrs rettigheder and Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge presented the growing Norwegian public opposition to whaling and the recent footage of a Norwegian whale hunt which demonstrates the cruel reality of the industry.
Speaking about the footage, which showed a harpooned whale suffering for a minimum of 22 minutes and possibly for over two hours, Marine Mammal Advisor for Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, Tanya Schumacher, said: "This hunt verifies our claims that whaling is an unreliable hunt that potentially causes extreme and prolonged animal suffering. Furthermore, the lack of inspector oversight means that this suffering is occurring unchecked."
Director of NOAH – for Dyrs Rettigheder, Siri Martinsen, said: "The Norwegian delegation at the IWC is representing the interests of a small minority - a small industry - one in decline - they are not representing the many Norwegians who are skeptical towards whaling or want it to be phased out. We think it is important to be present here to represent the voices of all these people who do not agree with the Norwegian government’s policy of supporting the whaling industry and ignoring the growing concern for the welfare of hunted whales."
The public opposition to whaling in Australia and New Zealand was made clear with the Give whales a Voice campaign that has brought together the words of thousands of Australians as one united voice on behalf of the whales. The huge opposition to commercial whaling from almost 1 in 80 New Zealanders was also showcased following the results of a petition signed by more than 54,000 people.
Programs Manager from WSPA Australia, Emily Reeves, said: "Whales are one of the loudest beings on the planet but here at the IWC their voices are not being heard. So as Australians we stand behind our Government in calling for the IWC to be about protecting whales, not managing their slaughter."
Country Manager from WSPA New Zealand, Bridget Vercoe, said: "The message to the New Zealand Government at this year’s IWC is clear – uphold New Zealand’s long tradition of whale conservation and welfare and vote against any deal which would legitimize commercial whaling. Protecting whales is part of who New Zealanders are, it is part of our national identity. We urge our Government to hold firm and vote against any deal at this IWC meeting which legitimizes commercial whaling."
WSPA will continue to put animal welfare at the agenda at this year’s IWC which runs until Friday June 25 and WSPA is urging the IWC to reject this dangerous proposal and put an end to the suffering of whales by refocusing its attention on protecting them.