Japan fails to win control of the International Whaling Commission

Greenpeace Announces Return to Southern Ocean

Feature story - June 15, 2006
It's been 6 months since we confronted the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. This week, the stakes were even higher as we moved from the bottom of the world and into the international spotlight. The 58th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) began on Friday, and already, the drama has begun.

Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, has gone from the Southern Ocean to St. Kitts, this time ready to confront the Japanese whalers in the political arena. But we've been denied entry into the waters surrounding St. Kitts, without any explanation as to why.

But what started out badly improved markedly, when by the narrowest of margins, Japan lost the most important votes it was pursuing.  Japan's efforts to eliminate protection for dolphins, porpoises, and small whales, introduce a secret voting ballot, abolish the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and earn an exemption on the moratorium against commercial whaling, all failed to pass by just a few votes.

This was great news for whales, but was quickly overshadowed by a non-binding resolution following the arrival of another pro-whaling nation, which revealed that Japan has indeed gained a simple majority vote on the IWC.

This turning of the tides signals a serious threat for whales, and one last vote has us particularly interested. Japan would gladly hand Greenpeace our ejection notice for 'interference with whale research.' The vote to remove our observer status at the IWC meetings, including next year's meetings in Alaska, will take place in a couple of days - a retribution for our efforts to protect whales in the Southern Ocean.

But that won't stop us from returning to the Southern Oceans again this year, and confronting the Japanese whalers as they attempt to slaughter even more whales.

Already this year, Japan's whalers increased their slaughter - under the guise of 'scientific research' - killing 853 whales, including 10 fin whales, the second largest whales in the world's oceans, and one of the most endangered. And they've already announced plans to increase the slaughter next year, including 50 fin whales and plan to add endangered humpback whales to the menu in 2007/2008.

It is clear that Japan has now gained a simple majority of votes, and next year's meeting in Alaska promises to be a turning point, unless anti-whaling nations like ours really fight back. If Japan gains control of the IWC, it will start turning back the clock on whale conservation and laying the groundwork to undo the ban on commercial whaling.

We'll continue our fight to keep that from happening. Will you join us?

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The fight to protect whales promises to wage on, and we promise to be in the thick of it. Help Support our efforts as we return to the Southern Ocean.