Despite the continued killing of whales there was some good news when the International Whaling Commission endorsed the commercial whaling ban.
You can read the full text of the "CITES Resolution" here.
This was a major victory for the voices of whale conservation
At last year's meeting, 33 countries - led by pro-whaling Japan
- voted in favour of the "
St. Kitts Declaration," essentially an attempt to restart
commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1986.
Thattemporary, one-vote whaling majority was a wake up call, and
as Japancontinued to recruit votes in support of their position,
often withlucrative aid packages, Greenpeace and other
conservationorganisations, like-minded countries, and whale
supporters all over theworld responded with their own efforts to
ensure that the trueopposition to whaling worldwide was reflected
at this year'smeeting.
We launched a website dedicated to enabling those who opposed
whaling to be part of those efforts: I-GO/Defending the whales.
Whale defenders who signed up at that site helped to
motivatecountries around the world to protect the whales.
Recentmonths saw several countries joining or rejoining, like
Peru,Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Costa Rica and Ecuador - or
even declaring they would swapsides to vote for the whales, like
In addition, there were Big Blue Marches all over the world in support
of whales - in New Zealand andAustralia, India, Argentina, Ecuador,
Netherlands, Peru, Spain, US,UK, France, Portugal, Columbia,
Venezuela, Germany, Brazil, Mexico,Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico,
Morocco, Romania, Sweden, Singapore, Turkey -the list goes on and
And in Japan, the Whale Love
Wagonreached out to the Japanese public in a very different
voice, exploringthe whaling issue from the perspective of former
whalers, peoplewho still
eat whale meat, and Japanese youth. The latest instalment,an
animation from academy-award nominee Koshi Yamamura, tells the
storyof a Japanese headmaster who saves a whale, repaying a debt he
feelsfor the days when whales saved the Japanese people from
starvationfollowing World War II. "Once they saved us -- now it is
our turn tosave them" he says in this tiny, beautiful
What we didn't win
Yetwhile we achieved the major objective of maintaining the
moratorium,the meeting was not entirely a success. The functional
extinction of anentire species, the Baiji
dolphin, - got just fifteen minutes of fame at the meeting, at
the Anchorage's Captain Cook Hotel, which has just drawn to a
The Vaquita,the Mexican dolphin likely to become
extinct in the near future, alsogarnered little mention. And there
was no discussion whatsoever aboutthe estimated 3,288 cetaceans
that have died as bycatch from fishingvessels worldwide since the
59th IWC meeting started four days ago, orthrough human causes like
ship strikes, pollution, bycatch and climatechange.
Instead, a huge chunk of meeting was spent arguing overthe
resumption of commercial whaling, with Japan's JARPA II
"scientificwhaling" hunt later this year drawing censure from most
countries.Japan aims to kill 50 threatened humpback whales in the
Southern Oceanlater this year, and the "Resolution on Jarpa" with 40 countries voting
against Japan's "research" expeditions - which are really just
commercial whaling in disguise.
Japanalso proposed a resolution that its coastal whaling
communities shouldbe allowed to engage in commercial whaling,
because of its similarityto subsistence hunts by indigenous people
in other countries. Theproblem is, for the last decade, the UN has
repeatedly, andunsuccessfully, requested Japan's government to
recognise the rights ofJapan's own indigenous people - the
Ainu- in the north of Japan, so it's hard to see how they can
claim empathywith indigenous people elsewhere. Japan eventually
Japan routinely threatens to leave the IWC every year that
itdoesn't go well for them, and this year was no exception. This
yearthey said they want to start another whaling organisation, and
to startcoastal whaling.
Jun Hoshikawa, executive director of Greenpeace Japan said that
this was just posturing by Japan.
"Japancan't just walk away - whaling isn't such a big business
in Japan thatother important international relationships can be
Themeeting, IWC 59, kicked off on Monday with Japan requesting
everyone toact "civilly." That sentiment didn't go too far - there
was soon a waveof so-called "hate votes" - the refusal of
pro-whaling countries toparticipate in votes they didn't like the
look of; threats to walk awayfrom the whole process from Japan, and
an almost total failure of allmembers to consider in detail the
real threats to whales and dolphins.
Finally,the IWC's member nations have agreed to a special
meeting to discussreform of the organisation. But unless "reform"
means actuallymodernising the IWC to properly address the major
threats to cetaceans- which kill one animal every 90 seconds - and
stop the mostpreventable cause - hunting - then that meeting will
just becomeanother soapbox for political grandstanding, where the
only victimswill be the whales.
Join the online activist community that helped make this victory happen!
Help keep our ships at sea and our work to save the whales ongoing.