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The whales granted a reprieve at the International Whaling Commission
After two days behind closed doors, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has failed to reach consensus on the future of whaling, and has postponed a vote that could have seen an increase in commercial whaling quotas for the first time in 25 years . WSPA is happy that the whales have been given a reprieve and urge the IWC member states to use the “cooling off period” to consider the inherent cruelty of whaling. As the IWC plenary sessions reconvene today, it is clear that the negotiations have been futile and that the proposal to partially lift the ban on commercial whaling will not be put to a vote at this meeting.

Urge President Obama to protect whales, not whaling
This March, members of an International Whaling Commission (IWC) working group met to discuss the future of the commission, including a deal that would reinstate commercial whaling and spell disaster for whales. WSPA is adamantly opposed to this deal and fighting to save the ban on commercial whaling. Years of dead-end discussions about ongoing and escalating catches of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway have led to frustration on both sides of the debate. Nothing could be more disastrous to fragile whale populations than caving to political pressure rather than listening to scientists about the best way to protect them. If this proposal is put into place, thousands of whales will continue to face slow and painful deaths by exploding harpoons.

Take action: Protect the whaling ban, protect whales!
On June 22 over 80 governments will meet to decide the future of the world’s whales. More than 25 years after the global ban on commercial whaling was passed, these intelligent mammals are in danger once more. At the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) annual meeting in Portugal, member countries will consider a proposal to allow coastal whaling – effectively lifting the international ban and spelling disaster for whales. Instead, this proposal would open the floodgates for this cruel industry to grow worldwide. Many hundreds will suffer from horrific explosion wounds for up to an hour before finally dying. The world’s whales urgently need you to tell your national representative at the International Whaling Commission to uphold the blanket ban on commercial whaling.

WSPA’s evidence critical in victory for whale welfare
WSPA’s undercover investigation revealed that 25% of whales killed by Greenland – which they are permitted to hunt only for aboriginal subsistence purposes – are sold commercially, resulting in significant profit and exploding the myth that their whaling quotas are purely subsistence based. Last week we presented IWC commissioners with our compelling evidence, providing them with the information necessary to ensure a ‘no’ vote on June 26 from a majority 36 of the 65 voting nations. WSPA’s Claire Bass commented on the vote from the IWC meeting: “This is fantastic news as fewer whales will be cruelly killed. This is important step in preventing an erosion of the worldwide commercial whaling ban which has been in place since 1986.

WSPA condemns alleged Japanese whaling plans
WSPA condemns reported attempts by the Chair of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to strike a deal enabling Japan to resume commercial whaling, when all credible science tells us there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea. The deal, outlined in documents obtained by the Washington Post this week, would allegedly allow Japan to hunt whales in its coastal waters in exchange for a ‘scaling back’ of their bogus scientific hunts in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. This wholly undermines the 1986 ban on commercial whaling instated by the IWC, the body charged with the management of whaling and conservation of the world’s whales.

WSPA condemns Japanese whaling fleets
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has condemned the Japanese fleets setting off for another season of cruel whale killing. For the first time since the 1960s, humpback whales will be hunted commercially. "It is clear that people all over the world are distressed about the killing of whales and the attempt to call it ‘scientific research‘ is a highly dubious excuse for harming such magnificent and intelligent mammals. "We must never forget that whaling causes slow and painful deaths. The whales are struck by explosive harpoons and can take over an hour to die. "WSPA believes that the hunger to kill whales is being replaced by a hunger to understand and protect them in their natural environment.

Pro-whalers may seize International Whaling Commission
The IWC was established in 1946 to conserve whales and regulate whaling. For the first time in its history, the pro-whaling nations have a voting majority. While this does not mean that Japan could overturn the ban on commercial whaling (which would require a ¾ vote), it does have serious implications for the work carried out at the meeting - - and for whales. If they have their way, the pro-whaling nations could use this meeting to seize control of the agenda. This would mean that current items such as whale welfare, conservation and other critical issues will be erased from the agenda.

WSPA: Redefining the whaling debate
WSPA will be at the 60th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Chile next week, lobbying for the ban on commercial whaling to continue on welfare grounds and for a change in IWC focus. Since then, member nations have been locked in unproductive debates about the possible resumption of whaling. This year’s meeting offers an opportunity to tell whaling and non-whaling member nations that the time has come for the IWC to devote its resources to protecting these animals and encouraging a sustainable industry of whale watching, helping us understand more about how these creatures live. Withholding information prevents a full discussion about the welfare of hunted whales – which WSPA can prove is massively compromised – and ultimately hides the ugly truth.

Spring brings bloody waters in Norway - the whaling season has started
Sadly this will be the first of up to 1,052 whales which Norway is set to kill this season, in hunts which result in prolonged and extreme suffering as many whales do not die straight away. Data from the Norwegian Government itself reveals that 1 in 5 whales suffer long and painful deaths, some taking an hour or more to die after being hit with explosive harpoons. A recent poll showed that almost two thirds of Norwegians believe that it is unacceptable for a whale to take more than 15 minutes to die once shot. Ellingsen is currently responsible for processing approximately a third of the total catch each year.

Whale welfare put on the table at the IWC
WSPA warmly welcomes this opportunity before the IWC to seriously address the fundamental welfare problems of commercial whaling. 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. 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. 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.

WSPA denounces latest proposal to 'trade whale quotas'
In the latest issue of Nature, through a feature entitled "Conversation Science: A market approach to saving the whales," three researchers proposed a system that would give countries permits to catch a certain number of whales. WSPA criticizes this proposal on grounds that it ignores a fundamental reality: that whales are conscious, intelligent animals who suffer slow, agonizing deaths when hit by the whalers’ exploding harpoons. The researchers estimate that whaling generates about $31 million a year in profits, while environmental groups spend about $25 million campaigning against whaling. Read more about whale watching, including how to distinguish a responsible tour operator from one that puts whales at risk.

No to damaging whaling deals
WSPA will be fighting next week to save the ban on commercial whaling and to prevent the cruel slaughter of ten humpback whales at a make or break meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Florida. The meeting (2nd-5th March) has been called for two reasons: firstly to discuss the future of the IWC, including a deal which would spell disaster for whales, and secondly to vote on Greenland’s request to increase its quota of whales. The most recent attempts to resolve the deadlock have led to a potentially disastrous deal which would legitimize commercial whaling and destroy the whaling ban. Greenland is allowed to hunt whales for subsistence purposes and already has an annual quota of 233 whales, but claims to need even more whale meat.

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