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Whaling Nations Block Progress on Animal Welfare at IWC

Jul 11, 2011

BOSTON, MASS. – Today, whaling nations at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) rejected recommendations derived from an expert Animal Welfare and Ethics workshop sponsored by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and tabled by the UK government.

The recommendations included the formation of an intercessional working group mandated to inform the IWC toward a more scientific and objective approach for addressing animal welfare issues, such as:

  • Entanglements in fishing gear,

  • Ship strikes,

  • Poorly-managed whale watching,

  • Whale hunting, and

  • The ethics of lethal scientific research.

Despite considerable support from many countries, including Australia, Argentina and Mexico, the whaling nations blocked consensus on the formation of an official IWC intersessional group. The UK expressed its disappointment, but offered to continue the discussion with interested countries outside of the IWC.

WSPA also finds it extremely disappointing that the ongoing conflict in the IWC has prevented progress on the fundamentally important issue of animal welfare.


The UK’s animal welfare proposal was grounded in good science and rational principles enshrined in other management forums, so it’s deeply disappointing that the whaling nations have derailed this initiative,” WSPA’s Oceans campaign leader, Claire Bass said.

It’s sadly symptomatic of the current state of the IWC: while pro-conservation members are being peaceful and constructive, the whaling nations have their swords drawn and are bent on blocking progress,” she added. “WSPA encourages the UK and others to continue to champion this vital work, despite unreasonable opposition from the whaling countries.


About WSPA (
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is the world’s largest alliance of animal welfare organizations, currently representing more than 1,000 partners in more than 150 countries. WSPA strives to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. WSPA brings about change at both grassroots and governmental levels to benefit animals and has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

For interviews at the IWC, please contact:

Marco Calvo, WSPA Communications Manager
Tel: + (506) 2562 1200 / Mob: + (506) 8702 1154 (GMT – 6) / E:

***Marco is attending this year’s IWC meeting along with our Oceans experts. Please contact him for breaking reactions and comments as the meeting progresses***

For other questions, please contact:

Laura Flannery, WSPA U.S. Communications Manager
Tel: (617) 275 9711 / E:

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