Threats to Whales and Dolphins Highlighted Around the World on Eve of Whaling Commission Meeting in Alaska

July 6, 2010

Whales and dolphins drowned in fishing nets and killed by ships were laid out in the center of Berlin by Greenpeace activists today as a stark reminder of the range of threats to the mammals, just one week before the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting convenes in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Three hundred thousand whales and dolphins drown in fishing
nets each year and it is impossible to calculate how many more fall
victim to pollution, ship strikes, the impacts of sonar or climate
change,” said Greenpeace USA whales project leader Karen Sack. “How
can pro-whaling nations justify hunting them as well?”

 Next week more than seventy nations will gather in Anchorage to
determine the fate of the great whales, under increasing pressure
from whaling nations such as Japan, Iceland and Norway, for a
formal resumption of commercial whaling. Later this year in the
Southern Ocean, the Japanese government plans to hunt nearly 900
minke whales, increase the take of endangered fin whales to 50 and
add 50 threatened humpback whales to the quota.

 “Governments attending the IWC must make a commitment to defend
the whales,

not the whaling industry,” added Sack. “The drive to resume
commercial hunting is one of the most extreme examples of
governments’ failure to protect our oceans in their entirety. A
clear signal needs to be sent that oceans protection is being taken
seriously and governments, most especially the U.S. government, can
start at the IWC by defending the moratorium on commercial
whaling.”

 The whales and dolphins where placed in front of the
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They were washed up on European beaches
and subsequently collected by Greenpeace activists. The causes of
death ranged from drowning in fishing nets, toxic pollution or from
underwater noise. Some of them show scars from ship propellers or
fishermen’s knifes. One died as it was giving birth.

Whales and dolphins are key components of healthy oceans, but
increased pressure from overfishing, climate change and pollution
are threatening all the worlds oceans and its diverse marine life. 
Ironically, tomorrow is the International Day of Biodiversity. Many
whale species have still not recovered from the devastation of
commercial whaling and population levels for some species,
including minke whales in Antarctica, are unknown, making it clear
that there in no place for commercial whaling in the 21st century.
Strong conservation measures need to be taken to protect them. Most
important is the designation of large-scale marine reserves where
no fishing or commercial whaling would be allowed.

As public concern for the lost humpback whales in California
grows, Greenpeace is calling on the U.S. government to lead
pro-conservation countries at the IWC.  Meanwhile, whale defenders
along the West Coast are in the process of showing support for
whale conservation by holding human art events, beginning yesterday
in Loreto, on the Baja peninsula of Mexico. 

Other contacts: steve.smith@wdc.greenpeace.org

VVPR info: Photos are available at: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/whalehumanart/

Exp. contact date: 2007-06-21 00:00:00

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