Greenpeace Protests Potential U.S. Support of Legalized Whaling

Activists Call on President Obama: Don’t Overturn the Whaling Ban!

Media release - March 2, 2010
Greenpeace activists constructed a giant whale tail statue today at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida to call on President Obama to reject any proposal that would overturn the ban on commercial whaling.

"President Obama should ensure that the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission is not supporting any proposal that would overturn the ban on commercial whaling," said John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner. "Instead, President Obama can honor his campaign pledge to strengthen the moratorium on commercial whaling by supporting Australia's proposal, which would end commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean once and for all."

Reports that the U.S. delegation to the IWC may be supporting a proposal to overturn the ban on commercial whaling would run counter to campaign pledges made by then presidential candidate Barack Obama. Despite refusal to honor the moratorium by Japan, Iceland, and Norway, the moratorium has proven to be the most important whale conservation agreement in history.  A working group of the IWC is meeting in St. Pete Beach Florida this week to discuss the controversial proposal.

As a candidate, President Obama said, "As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable." (March 16, 2008 - Greenpeace candidate questionnaire)

"Americans want to protect whales, and President Obama shouldn't support any deal that would let the whaling industry kill these amazing animals," said Kate Melges, Greenpeace Lead Activist in Tampa, Florida who helped construct the giant whale tail statue at the IWC meeting.

In the last 24 hours, more than 26,000 people from across the nation have emailed President Obama to ensure that the ban on commercial whaling is not overturned.

Greenpeace opposes the proposal for the following reasons:

  • It would allow whaling to take place in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and legitimize commercial whaling rather than seeking to phase it out.  With a single stroke, this proposal would reverse nearly three decades of progress in protecting whales.
  • It will set interim quotas - the number of whales each country is allowed to catch - based on political need, not scientific evidence. This is a return to the practices of the last century which devastated whale populations.
  • Adding insult to injury, the proposal would pass the costs of regulating whaling on to all members of the IWC, meaning that the taxpayers of even anti-whaling countries will be forced to support whaling operations.

Other contacts: Joe Smyth, (in St. Pete Beach FL) Greenpeace Media Officer , 831-566-5647, John Hocevar, (in Washington DC) Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, 512-577-3868

Notes: Photos available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157623540272800/ Greenpeace petition to President Obama is available at: http://ow.ly/1cND8

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