Mr. President, the whales are counting on you

by Mike Gaworecki

March 4, 2010

Barbara Stowe is the daughter of Irving and Dorothy Stowe, two of Greenpeace’s founders and most dedicated activists. When she heard the news that the Obama Administration was considering supporting a proposal to reintroduce commercial whaling, she took action here on the GPUSA site and wrote the following letter to the President. I found it inspiring, and thought you might, too.

Dear President Obama,

I listed my citizenship on this message as Canadian. However, I hold dual USA/Canadian citizenship. My family was born in Rhode Island, and my mother still avidly follows US politics. My brother and I still vote in US presidential elections, and we were thrilled at your candidacy. We were glued to the TV for months watching the build up to the election, even though we live in Canada.

Greenpeace image: Stop the SlaughterMy parents were among the main founders of Greenpeace. Our house was the organization’s (only) office during the first five years of its existence. My mother, at 89, still serves at times as a kind of social ambassador for Greenpeace, and my brother and I serve with her. My late father, a fervent activist who also worked pro bono for the NAACP, among other causes, unfortunately did not live to see this new millenium, but I know he would have held the highest hopes for your administration. I hope you will see fit to do all in your power to save the whales.

I tell you quite frankly that in the early seventies, when Greenpeace was in its infancy, I did not "get" why some members were agitating to save the whales. I thought we should stick to our first goal: stopping nuclear testing worldwide. (I applaud your efforts to denuclearize). It took, for me, standing on the deck of a Greenpeace ship, staring into the eye of a humpback whale, which was equally staring at me, to change my opinion. It doesn’t take personal contact for everyone. Austria, a landlocked country, has fought tirelessly within the IWC to increase the protection of whales.

For years, Greenpeace and the United States government have played instrumental roles in securing a moratorium on commercial whaling through the IWC. 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.  Several whale populations have slowly begun to recover, and some are no longer in the imminent danger of extinction they were just a few decades ago.

Mr. President, I am deeply concerned about reports that the USA is championing a deal that would undermine the moratorium and secure the future of commercial whaling. From the campaign platform you shared with Greenpeace, I know you share my view that commercial whaling has no place in the 21st century.  I was grateful for your pledge to help bring this outrageous and unnecessary practice to an end.

I urgently call on you to ensure that the US opposes any deal that would legitimize commercial whaling by granting quotas to Japan and its whaling allies. Instead, I urge you to support Australia’s proposal, which would end whaling in the Southern Ocean once and for all. There is very widespread and bi-partisan American support for whale conservation, and millions of Americans are counting on you. I am counting on you.  Most of all, the whales are counting on you.

Barbara Stowe
Vancouver, BC

Barbara is one of over 30,000 activists who have sent a message to the president. You can take action too and tell President Obama to say NO to commercial whaling.

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