Whale Defenders

A few countries, namely Japan, Norway and Iceland, continue to ignore a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling—every year they kill thousands of whales to feed a black market of illegal whale meat.  

For more than 40 years Greenpeace has been at the forefront of this evolving fight to end this needless slaughter of one the most magnificent creatures on the planet. 

Unfortunately, there is also a domestic threat to whales and other marine life right off the coasts of the United States. While President Obama has shown great leadership by supporting the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, he has allowed Navy sonar testing and seismic testing from the oil and gas industry. By their own reports, this type of testing will result in massive numbers of marine life injuries and fatalities.

Learn more about seismic and sonar testing and what it means for marine life including whales and dolphins.

The environmental community must continue to fight on all levels to end the slaughter. Over the next three years Greenpeace will:

1. Ensure that the Obama administration uses their diplomatic leverage to close the loopholes and end all commercial whaling.

2. Persuade many of the countries currently voting with Japan to overturn the commercial whaling moratorium to reconsider their approach and instead vote to protect whales.

3. Continue exposing Japan’s black-market whale meat trade—that is both unpopular and uneconomical—to create a public discussion in the Japanese media about the future of whaling.


In 1986, a moratorium was put in place to halt commercial whaling and help dwindling whale populations recover.

But, 25 years later, the fight to end commercial whaling once and for all is not over. Japan, Iceland and Norway all continue to hunt whales while the authorities turn a blind eye to the slaughter.

Whaling was rampant for so long that many species of whales may never recover. In the United States, the North Atlantic right whale has a lonely population of about 350.

The blue whales of the Antarctic are at less than 1% of their original abundance. West Pacific grey whale populations are the most endangered of the world's great whales, hovering on the edge of extinction with just over 100 remaining.

And, endangered whales have many obstacles to face in these modern times—global warming, pollution, ocean acidification, noise and ship strikes. Overfishing threatens their food supply and hundreds of whales are entangled in fishing gear every year.

Commercial whaling continues

Iceland and Norway have flat out objected to the moratorium and now hunt whales in the North Atlantic. In Japan, their whaling fleet hunts thousands of whales (many endangered species included) in the name of "science." The Japanese government has been using a loophole in international law to continue commercial whaling under the pretext of research.

In Japan, two of our activists faced felony charges and long prison sentences for their role in exposing the black-market whale meat trade in Japan, creating a public discussion in the Japanese media about the future of whaling. In Japan, whaling is both uneconomical and unpopular. It’s time they put away their harpoons for good.

Whale Defenders needed

Greenpeace will continue our efforts to protect whales until this shameful and unnecessary slaughter has been stopped and whales can once again roam the seas in freedom.

In the lead up to this year's International Whaling Commission meeting, Greenpeace will be working with other organizations to ensure that the Obama administration uses their diplomatic leverage to close the loopholes and end all commercial whaling—including whaling that Japan pretends is for research purposes.

With your help, together we will end whaling for good.