New Year’s Resolution: End Whaling

by John Hocevar

December 19, 2011

Fin Whale

For decades, Greenpeace has led the fight to protect whales and the oceans in which they live. We led successful efforts to ban “wall of death” high seas drift nets, which killed huge numbers of marine mammals each year. We successfully campaigned for bans on dumping sewage sludge and toxic and nuclear waste, which has kept millions of tons of waste out of our oceans each year.

And we helped secure the moratorium on commercial whaling, which – despite continued whaling by Japan, Norway, and Iceland, has been instrumental in bringing several whale species back from the brink of extinction.  Today, whaling is no longer the biggest threat to whale populations – but it is certainly the most inexcusable, wasteful, and unacceptable.

That’s why we will not rest until Japan, Norway and Iceland end commercial whaling once and for all.

We made some real progress in 2011, which gives us new hope for the future. Responding to huge numbers of requests from people like you, the US Government stepped up pressure on Iceland. Next year, we’ll be working with coalition partners to complement the Obama administrations efforts by hitting the Icelandic whalers where it hurts – in their bank accounts.  We are confident that few US businesses will be willing to buy seafood from Icelandic companies that profit from whaling, and will keep you posted on what you can do to help spread the word.

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. We have worked with members of Japan’s parliament to raise questions about government subsidies for the uneconomical and unpopular whaling operation. We expanded on this work in 2011, building a coalition of strong Japanese voices that will be increasingly difficult for the Japanese government to ignore.

Perhaps the best news for whale conservation in the last decade came out of the International Whaling Commission. After years of buying enough votes to keep the international community from closing the loophole on “research” whaling, the IWC passed a new reform package which will make it much more difficult for Japan to continue to manipulate votes. We will be working to take advantage of this change over the next couple years.

Unfortunately, commercial whaling isn’t quite gone yet. As I write, Japan’s fleet is headed for the Southern Ocean to slaughter minke and fin whales, and our work is not done. We are making progress, though, and the whalers are on the ropes. The fleet this year will be smaller, and the whaling season will be shorter. Opposition in Japan – and from the US government – is getting louder. The IWC is not quite as friendly to the last of the commercial whaling operations as it was last year. And Icelandic whalers have a lot to be nervous about right now as well.

Together, we can make my New Year’s wish – finally, an end to commercial whaling – come true at last.

John Hocevar

By John Hocevar

An accomplished campaigner, explorer, and marine biologist, John has helped win several major victories for marine conservation since becoming the director of Greenpeace's oceans campaign in 2004.

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