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A Little Love for the Whales

by Alexis Sadoti

May 10, 2010

With news of the oil spill spreading like wildfire, it seems as if the whales have been left in the dust. So I’m here to provide you with the latest in whale news. Last week there was a hearing on “U.S. Leadership on the International Whaling Commission and H.R. 2455, The International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2009” to discuss the upcoming 62nd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

There has been much controversy since the United States Commissioner to the IWC appears to support a proposal that would lift the ban on commercial whaling by rewarding Norway, Iceland and Japan with commercial whaling quotas. Monica Medina, U.S. Commissioner to the IWC’ stated in her recent Congressional testimony, “We believe that the proposal represents a meaningful step forward, and is a possible foundation towards achieving a functioning IWC and improving the conservation of whales. We have encouraged other member countries to approach the upcoming discussions with open minds and constructive attitudes in the hope that a diplomatic solution can be reached.” In Commissioner Medina’s oral testimony she seemed concerned only about the “numbers”Japan will kill in the Southern Ocean with no mention that it would have to be zero whales killed in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary to be acceptable to the United States.

Justin Cooke, Scientific Consultant and Representative of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the IWC Scientific Committee also gave testimony. As a member of the IUCN he is required  by the IUCN charter to base his advice on scientific findings. He was quoted as; “I should emphasize that none of what I have said should be construed as criticism of the very sincere efforts of the US delegation to these negotiations, led by the US IWC Commissioner Monica Medina. I know that Monica has been highly motivated to achieve the best possible deal for the world’s whales. However, we need to appreciate that one is dealing here with very experienced negotiators from the whaling countries, who know the whaling issue inside out, who are on top of the science, and who have plenty of skill and practice in calving out deals that aren’t what they seem to be. Such negotiations require a thorough grasp of all aspects of the subject matter.” He advocates to keep the political and scientific aspects of the proposal separate.

While Monica Medina has her heart in the right place I have to question if she has the international negotiating experience to achieve the conservation goals the American public expect from the Obama Administration.

So, that’s the latest in whale news. If you want something to happen, then it is up to you.We have 110,000 signatures, help us reach 150,000. Take action and tell Obama that the legalization of commercial whaling would be a huge step backwards.

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