Together, we can help save the whales

by John Hocevar

December 10, 2010

whale tail

Greenpeace has been a leader in the fight to end whaling and defend our oceans for decades. We were instrumental in winning bans on high seas drift nets, which killed tens of millions of marine mammals, birds, and other creatures each year.

We fought for the ban on dumping 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. 

The fight to end commercial whaling once and for all is not over, though, and Greenpeace will continue our efforts until this shameful and unnecessary slaughter has been stopped and whales can once again roam the seas in freedom.

Greenpeace’s three ships are working throughout the year and around the clock to confront those who seek to plunder our planet. In the past, we have sailed to the Southern Ocean and the Pacific to put ourselves between whales and harpoons many times. More recently, our assessment has been that the most effective and strategic work we can do to end whaling is to take the fight to the people responsible: in Japan itself. 

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 increasingly uneconomical and unpopular whaling operation. 

Together with our allies at Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society, IFAW, and others, we turned around the US Government’s position at the IWC this year, effectively ending their attempt to undermine the moratorium. It took a huge effort, involving over a million people and an enormous amount of work, but in the end President Obama came through and stood up for whales.

Our work in Japan and with influential governments around the world continues. And  there appears to be a big breakthrough for the whales. This year, Hiyo Maru, the tanker/offloader which supports the whaling fleet in the Antarctic by refueling it and by carrying whale meat back to Japan, was scrapped. The whalers, under heavy scrutiny from the Japanese public and elements of their own government, appear to lack the resources or political clout to replace it. The whaling fleet left late this year, and they have announced that it will return early. These developments mean that less whaling is likely to occur.

In the lead up to this year’s International Whaling Commission meeting, Greenpeace will be working with other organizations to ensure that THIS time around, the Obama administration uses their diplomatic leverage to take a strong conservation majority that can close the loopholes and end all commercial whaling—including whaling that Japan pretends is for research purposes. With little effort, the US Government can persuade many of the countries currently voting with Japan to reconsider their approach, particularly now that it is harder than ever for the whalers to get access to government funds to use as bribes.

Whether on land or at sea, high profile or behind the scenes, in Japan or Washington DC, Greenpeace’s work to end whaling continues to be strategic and effective. It’s not over, and the situation unfortunately remains both serious and urgent, but we are on the case and the whalers are on the run. With your help, together we will end whaling for good. 

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.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.