Bush 'Holdovers' Attempt To Undermine Obama Foreign Policy On Whaling

Press release - 27 January, 2009
Just days after the inauguration of President Obama, appointees from the Bush administration who are still in place are already attempting to undermine his foreign policy on whaling.

Minke whale is transfered onto the Nisshin Maru factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet.

According to news reports [1] out of Hawaii, US Commissioner of the International Whaling Commission, Dr. Doug DeMaster, and the US Chair of the IWC, Dr William Hogarth, took part in closed-door negotiations with Japan over the weekend that could allow increased whaling off the coast of Japan in return for a marginal drop in the so-called "scientific" quota [2] of whales hunted in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. This trade-off will not benefit whale conservation - and could actually put additional endangered populations at risk.  [3].

Ironically, a search for "whaling" on the new Administration's White House website brings no results and suggests searching for "dealing" instead [4].

Greenpeace understands that President Obama did not anticipate whaling to be a priority at this early stage of his term, but his position on the campaign trail was unequivocal.

Before last November's election, Greenpeace USA asked Mr. Obama, "If you are elected president, what concrete steps will you take to convince Japan to stop


He replied: "As president, I will ensure that the US provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable." [5]

"President Obama has hit the ground running since 20 January and his words and action on climate change and other environmental issues are very welcome," said Greenpeace International Whales Campaign coordinator Sara Holden. "We realise that whales were never going to be on the agenda in his first week, but the worrying news reports from Hawaii means that this issues needs to be address sooner rather than later".

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to take just a few minutes to end this potentially damaging negotiation by ensuring a new IWC Commissioner is appointed with experience in high-level international negotiations to ensure the US position in these negotiations matches the agenda of the Obama Administration and the American people.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace USA: +1 202 319 2493Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International Media, in Ireland: +353 87 220 7023For images: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/20090126Whaling/Bob Meyers, Senior Photo Editor, Greenpeace USA + 1 202 319 2453[B-roll of whales and whaling also available]

Notes: [1] Washington Post story about the attempts to craft a deal:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/24/AR2009012402053_pf.html[2] Japan's commercial whaling operation currently targets around 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales each season in the Southern Ocean, under the guise of scientific research. A review of this programme by the IWC's Scientific Committee found that it has failed to reach a single one of its objectives. The IWC has stated that it does not need the data produced by this programme and has repeatedly asked Japan to call it off.[3] Some populations of minke whale off the coast of Japan – known as J-Stock – are classified as endangered and are at risk from an increase in coastal whaling[4] http://www.whitehouse.gov/search/?keywords=whaling - Screenshot from 27 January available at http://www.greenpeace.org/whitehouse-whale-search-fail[5] Response from then presidential candidate Barack Obama available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/assets/binaries/obama-questionnaire-response