Seeing red? The future of commercial whaling in jeopardy

by Michelle Frey

June 22, 2010

Twenty years ago, thanks to overwhelming public support, commercial whaling was banned worldwide. But, this wonderful victory that has fostered healthier whale populations and vibrant ecosystems is in serious jeopardy. Right now, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is meeting in Agadir, Morocco. The fate of whales, worldwide, is in the hands of a few powerful individuals. What will they decide?

dead whaleFor decades, countries like Japan, Norway and Iceland have boldly ignored the ban on commercial whaling, exploiting loopholes and killing about two thousand whales per year.

And, now these pro-whaling countries are on the verge of mounting a major victory. A deal, proposed by the United States and others, would actually legalize commercial whaling for the first time in twenty years! If you’re jaw has dropped to your keyboard, you’re not alone. It’s astonishing, upsetting and totally unacceptable!

Let’s go over the rationalization for this whaling deal. The United States must have a good reason for reopening commercial whaling and encouraging other nations to vote for this deal. The proposed deal would grant commercial quotas to Japan, Iceland and Norway. These quotas would allow these three countries to legally hunt whales for a 10-year period in reduced numbers. The whaling countries in return would agree to tighter oversight of their operations, including participation in a whale DNA registry.

The justification is that the “quotas” for legally whaling is lower than the actual numbers these countries are already killing illegally. In essence, the Obama Administration says whales will be saved.

But, haven’t these three nations already proven that they cannot be trusted to follow the rules? Does anyone really believe these countries are going to adhere to the quotas and no longer catch “extra” whales illegally or under the radar?  And what happens in ten years, when the deal expires and countries like Korea and China want to start killing whales too?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

More than 200 scientists and experts have called on the IWC to maintain its ban on commercial whaling to ensure the future of species depleted by industrial hunting.

They have attested that, "There is no evidence that any of the few populations and species known to be increasing have reached, or are anywhere near, the levels that might justify non-zero catch limits."

The IWC should focus on closing loopholes and actually clamping down on illegal commercial whaling instead of pandering to the “law breakers” and allowing them to derail decades of conservation efforts.

Save the whales rally

President Obama is skating on very thin ice with environmentalists these days. The Gulf is still spewing oil with no end in sight. Does he really want history books to reflect that under his presidency commercial whaling was legalized and offshore drilling continued even as the biggest oil spill in United States history dragged on for months and months?

Speak up! Send a message to President Obama urging him to protect whales and not the whalers. We have an action alert that will deliver your message directly.

If you feel like calling the White House, you can leave a message for the President at the following phone number: 202-456-1414


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