United condemnation of new whaling plans

Mar 6, 2009

Ignoring the ban on commercial whaling puts minke whales, as well as other species, at risk

WSPA and the world’s leading anti-whaling organizations condemn plans to allow hunts in Japanese coastal waters. Together we call for governments to oppose this deal, which could destroy the international ban on commercial whaling.

Alongside Greenpeace, IFAW and many of our member societies, WSPA is extremely concerned that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is considering allowing commercial whaling in Japanese waters.

This could result in hundreds of whales being slaughtered by exploding harpoons each year. Science confirms that there is no way to hunt a whale at sea without causing acute suffering.

A dangerous precedent

An IWC intersessional meeting will take place in Rome next week to discuss the future of the organization, including whether to award a whaling quota to Japan.

WSPA has led the production of a briefing, signed by 26 organizations, that condemns the proposal, which is effectively bartering with animals’ lives.

The proposed deal would grant Japan permission to hunt whales in its coastal waters, in exchange for a ‘scaling back’ of its bogus scientific hunts in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

This not only gives credibility to the notion of a scientific reason for whaling, it makes coastal whaling acceptable.

The briefing exposes the very real dangers of this deal, including the erosion of the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. We urge IWC member governments to oppose the proposal.

Animal welfare must be considered

WSPA and several members of Whalewatch, an international network of organizations opposed to whaling on welfare grounds, will attend the meeting as observers.

Claire Bass, WSPA’s Marine Mammal Program Manager said: “Japan has cruelly killed over 11,000 whales in shameless defiance of a global ban. The Chairs’ proposal would reward this appalling behavior. NGOs are united in finding this beyond unacceptable.”

“Animal welfare is the elephant in the corner of this meeting room,” continued Bass, “to truly ‘save the whales’ governments must do more than guard species from extinction. They must protect each intelligent animal from unacceptable cruelty. This deal simply moves this cruelty from the Southern Ocean to the North Pacific.”

What next for the IWC?

The briefing also rejects whaling nations’ claims that the IWC is at the verge of collapse.

But campaigners do believe that the IWC, charged with the management of whaling and conservation of the world’s whales, has lost its sense of perspective.

While only Japan, Iceland and Norway want to catch whales commercially, the Commission devotes a huge amount of time and energy to negotiating whether and how to lift the ban.

Meanwhile, the world’s whales remain largely unprotected from an increasing raft of threats, including chemical and noise pollution, climate change, over-fishing and being killed as by-catch.

WSPA believes that the IWC needs to re-set its priorities to protect whales, not whaling.

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