Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!

Browse Old Articles


Anti-whaling groups unite against plan to undermine international ban on commercial whaling

09/03/2009 14:40:35
See the full proposal online here
March 2009: Twenty-six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world have united to issue a call to governments asking them to oppose a deal that could signal the end of the international moratorium on commercial whaling. The Small Working Group (SWG) on the Future of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) met in Rome from 9th to 11th of March to discus a proposal that would allow Japan to hunt endangered whales in its coastal waters.

Minke whale and calf. Japan hunts hundreds of Minke whales every year for 'scientific purposes'. Credit Baddeley.

Minke whale and calf. Japan hunts hundreds of Minke whales every year for 'scientific purposes'. Credit Baddeley.

Proposal condemned
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has led the production of a briefing, signed by the world's leading anti-whaling organisations - including Greenpeace, IFAW, Humane Society International, RSPCA and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society - which condemns the proposal put forward by IIWC Chair William Hogarth and IWC special advisor Ambassador Alvaro de Soto.

The proposed deal would grant Japan permission to hunt whales in its coastal waters, in exchange for a ‘scaling back' of its bogus scientific hunts in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. The NGO briefing, ‘Response to Chairs' Suggestions on the Future of the International Whaling Commission' exposes the very real dangers of this deal, including that of setting an extremely dangerous precedent. WSPA and several members of Whalewatch, an international network of organisations opposed to whaling on welfare grounds, will be attending the SWG meeting as observers.

Claire Bass, WSPA's Marine Mammal Programme Manager said of the proposal: "Japan has cruelly killed over 11,000 whales in shameless defiance of a global ban. The Chairs' proposal would reward this appalling behaviour and offer up yet more whales on a plate to Japan. NGOs are united in finding this beyond unacceptable."

Signatories to the briefing agree that the Chairs' proposals would only deliver short term, non-binding and superficial gains to anti-whaling nations - and do so at the expense of legitimising scientific whaling, institutionalising coastal whaling and undermining the credibility of the IWC. The deal would also irreversibly erode the international ban on commercial whaling and sanction an inherently cruel practice.

Cruel practices
‘Modern' whalers use crude exploding harpoons, subjecting whales to extreme and prolonged suffering; data from the Governments of Japan and Norway shows that whales can suffer for over an hour before they finally succumb to their injuries. Whalewatch members are extremely concerned that the Chairs' proposal overlooks the severe cruelty of whaling, which is considered unacceptable by millions of people worldwide.

"Animal welfare is the elephant in the corner of this meeting room," continued Bass, "to truly ‘save the whales' governments must do more than guard species or populations from extinction. They must protect each intelligent, sentient animal from unacceptable cruelty. Whaling is inhumane wherever it takes place and a deal which simply moves this cruelty from the Southern Ocean to the North Pacific is no solution to the problem."

IWC on "verge of collapse" - denied

The briefing also rejects whaling nations' claims that the IWC is at the verge of collapse. But campaigners do believe that the IWC, charged with the management of whaling and conservation of the world's whales, has lost its sense of perspective; just three countries want to go commercial whaling and yet the Commission devotes a disproportionately large percentage of its time and energies to negotiating how and whether to resume it. Meanwhile, the world's whales remain largely unprotected from an increasing raft of threats including chemical and noise pollution, climate change, and over-fishing, besides being killed as by-catch. Briefing signatories believe that the IWC needs to re-set its priorities to protect whales, not whaling.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is the world's largest alliance of animal welfare organisations. Through partnership with hundreds of member societies we strive to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. We bring about change at both grassroots and governmental levels, to benefit animals. 

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

To post a comment you must be logged in.

New user? Register here


Click join and we will email you with your password. You can then sign on and join the discussions right away.