For Immediate Release


Chris Cutter (IFAW, Headquarters)
+1 (508) 744-2066

Jake Levenson (IFAW, Headquarters)
+1(508) 744-2235

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Newspaper Reveals Secret US Plan to Expand Whaling

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass. - According to secret documents obtained by the Washington Post, outgoing Bush Administration appointees have been engaged in intense, closed-door negotiations to undo the global moratorium on commercial whaling and extend unprecedented authorization to the Government of Japan to kill whales off its coastline and in international waters.

"Apparently, the last lousy idea of the Bush Administration was to legitimize commercial whaling in the 21st century. It's unbelievable, and fundamentally un-American. We should be encouraging Japan, Iceland and Norway to end whaling, not cooking up deals to help it continue," said Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Program Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW

Longtime Bush Administration appointee Dr. William Hogarth currently serves as U.S. Commissioner and Chairman of the 83-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC). In early 2008, Dr. Hogarth and the Japanese Vice-Chair initiated a series of closed-door meetings and secret discussions designed to forge a compromise with Japan, one of only three IWC member nations still whaling. A "small working group" of IWC member countries met behind closed doors in St. Pete Beach, Florida in September and again in Cambridge, England in early December 2008. Dr. Hogarth reconvened a drafting group of countries this weekend in Hawaii to fine-tune the compromise deal.

Text drafted by U.S., Japanese and other commissioners engaged in the IWC "Small Working Group" process apparently contemplates legitimizing Japan's ongoing scientific whaling in international waters -- including an internationally recognized whale sanctuary -- as well as extending long-sought authorization to Japan to kill protected whales in its coastal waters. "This is not the first issue on the new Obama administration's agenda, but it is perhaps one of the most fundamental and fastest to fix," Ramage said. "Americans from sea to shining sea love whales and want their government to protect them. The time has come to end the drift in U.S. policy and renew American leadership at the IWC."

Since the global ban on commercial whaling in 1986, Japan has claimed its whaling operations are conducted for scientific research purposes. Japan has killed more than 15,000 whales since the whaling ban and has threatened to begin killing humpback whales if the IWC does not bow to its wishes and approve commercial whaling.

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