Greenpeace won't compromise on commercial whaling

Feature Story - 22 June, 2010
Recently, there have been reports in The Age and on the ABC that suggest Greenpeace has 'softened' its position on whaling, and commercial whaling in particular. We haven’t and we won’t.

Minke whale with Greenpeace activists in the Southern Ocean (1999).

As Greenpeace UK's campaign director, Sarah North, told the The Guardian yesterday: "The global ban on whaling has got to stay in place. But the problem is that this whaling takes place outside the reach of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

"The only way to properly make the moratorium work is to bring commercial whaling under the reach of the IWC and then to enforce the ban."

There is no organisation on earth that has worked harder and for longer to protect whales. Greenpeace activists have put their lives on the line in oceans around the world. Even now, two of our activists confront the prospect of facing 18 months in jail in Japan for exposing corruption in the country's whaling industry

We take the protection of whales very seriously - it's what we do.

Having driven the international moratorium on commercial whaling and the creation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, we are not about to turn our backs on whales or their protection.

It is a real shame that the same week Japan gets caught bribing officials of smaller nations with cash and call girls, the media decides to turn its attention to environmental NGOs and what may or may not be happening at the negotiations.

In the interests of setting the record straight, here is Greenpeace's position at the IWC.

Greenpeace's position

Despite the success of the moratorium and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, thousands of whales are slaughtered every year by Japan, Iceland and Norway. Over 33,000 whales have been killed since the moratorium was introduced. This must end.

This year's meeting of the IWC has the potential to end the gridlock that has all but crippled the negotiations in recent years. So we have stated before any negotiations can begin, everyone (including Japan, Iceland and Norway) must agree to the six following conditions.

1. End whaling in the Southern Ocean - 80 per cent of the world's great whales live or feed in the Southern Ocean.

2. End commercial trade in whale meat and whale products - in this way, we can eliminate a key driver behind the future expansion of commercial whaling.

3. Eliminate all unilateral quotas - at the moment, Japan, Norway and Iceland just make up their own quotas.

4. End the hunting of endangered species and threatened populations - this is a no brainer.

5. End all 'objections' and 'reservations' - Iceland and Norway's commercial whaling takes place because they choose not to recognise the moratorium. Japan, meanwhile, chooses not to recognise the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. It must first be compulsory for all whaling to be brought under the control of the IWC so that the IWC can then control it.

6. Ensure any interim quotas are based on internationally agreed scientific assessments.

All of this, as far as we are concerned, needs to be part of any plan to end commercial whaling in its entirety. In other words, it's about taking back control of the whaling that is currently happening, then respecting and enforcing the moratorium on commercial whaling.