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100 Days to Save the Whale

Last year, pro-whaling countries gained the majority of votes at the IWC for the first time since the ban on commercial whaling was put in place 20 years ago. This year they are expected to use that majority to attack vital protection from commercial whaling and international trade in whale products. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
East Falmouth MA (SPX) Feb 22, 2007
The world's leading whale conservation charity today issued a stark warning about the "perfect storm" which could permanently damage the future survival of these mammals. In launching its '100 days to Save the Whale' campaign, WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is highlighting the urgent need to protect whales from an industry which is increasingly aggressive in its approach to international conventions in pursuit of both the numbers and different species it kills.

This wake-up call to the international community comes as there are just 100 days until the end of this year's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Alaska, USA. More than any other meeting in recent history, the 2007 IWC conference will be crucial for the future of whales.

Last year, pro-whaling countries gained the majority of votes at the IWC for the first time since the ban on commercial whaling was put in place 20 years ago. This year they are expected to use that majority to attack vital protection from commercial whaling and international trade in whale products.

WDCS' US Policy Director and leading anti whaling and trade campaigner, Sue Fisher said "Whale conservation currently faces the biggest onslaught since the ban on commercial whaling was put in place. Not only do pro-whaling countries want to lift the ban on whaling, but they also aim to lift restrictions on international trade in whale products - which, if allowed, would once again fuel an uncontrollable slaughter."

In January 2007, Japan proposed a review of the great whales currently protected from trade, such as humpback, blue, fin and sperm whales. The Japanese proposal will be considered at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in the Netherlands, just days after the conclusion of the IWC. CITES regards the IWC as the authority on whale issues and follows its lead by banning trade in whales that are protected from whaling. This move by Japan is an attempt to break that relationship.

"These two meetings are providing a perfect storm for whales. Pro-whaling nations tipped the balance of power at the IWC last year and they are hoping to build on that influence this year. The combination of the decisions at IWC and CITES this year could be devastating for whales for generations to come", continued Sue Fisher.

"Commercial markets for whale products once fuelled a slaughter that saw many whale species pushed to near extinction. If international trade is permitted again, whale products could once more be in demand from industries all around the world. We simply cannot let it happen again."

One country that is of particular importance in the balance of voting on whaling issues is Denmark. By voting in favor of whaling, Denmark is going against the policy of the EU, of which it is a member, and the majority of the Danish population who oppose whaling. WDCS is now calling for the international community to put pressure on Denmark to oppose any attempts to resume commercial whaling and international trade in whale products.

Although the recent fire onboard Japan's massive factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, the only vessel in the fleet capable of processing and storing large quantities of meat at sea, may appear to have given the whales a small reprieve this year, Japan is expected to proceed with at least part of its North Pacific hunt this spring using smaller local vessels. Japan is also expected to continue its campaign at IWC and CITES with renewed vigor.

Ends

For images or footage to accompany this piece, more information and interviews contact: Sue Fisher, US Policy Director on 1 503 235 7050 or email sue.fisher@wdcs.org.

Editors' notes

Since 1986 all great whales have been protected from commercial exploitation by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES makes decisions on whether species require protection from international trade and takes its lead from the IWC on the protection status of whales. Currently all whale species are listed on CITES appendix 1 which prohibits international commercial trade of whales and whale products.

Japan's proposal to review the status of whale species and the protection afforded to them can be seen here.

At the 2006 IWC meeting, Denmark voted in favor of the St Kitts Declaration, which states that the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling is "no longer required". Denmark was also the only member of the IWC Conservation Committee not to support the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary during the 2006 IWC meeting.

The figure 66% of the Danish population strongly opposed or oppose whaling is taken from "Klart nej til hvalfangst", press release from Dyrenes Beskyttelsen, 30.05.2005. 0% of the 500 respondents strongly supported whaling, while 5% supported whaling. In comparison 66% of those polled did not want whaling.

The IWC plenary takes place from the 28th to the 31st May 2007 in Alaska, USA.

The CITES meeting takes place from the 3rd to the 15th June 2007 in The Hague, Holland.

Related Links
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (North America)
Follow the Whaling Debate
Follow the Whaling Debate



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Stricken Japanese Whaler Prepared To Leave Antarctica
Wellington (AFP) Feb 20, 2007
Days of wrangling over the fate of a stricken Japanese whaler off the Antarctic coast appeared to be nearing an end Tuesday as the ship's operators said they were preparing to move it away. The Japanese have rejected all offers of outside help, drawing a warning from New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark that Tokyo faced international condemnation if the crippled Nisshin Maru sparked an environmental disaster.







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