The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Patrick Ramage (IFAW representation in Madeira, Portugal) 

+1 (508) 776-0027

Whaling Commission Countries Face Critical Choice

MADEIRA, Portugal

Governments from more than 80 countries opened the 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) here today, following a year of closed-door discussions which have failed to secure agreement from Japan, Iceland and Norway to respect the body's scientific procedures and commercial whaling ban. Conservation-minded delegates to the week-long meeting said much is at stake for whales and decades of international efforts to protect them.

Our planet's great whales face more threats today than at any time in history," said Patrick Ramage, whale program director for IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - "It's time to get rid of commercial whaling, not the whaling ban."

An IWC moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986. Since that time, the Government of Japan has killed some 12,000 whales, abusing a provision in the convention which permits whaling for scientific research purposes.

A major focus of this week's meeting is a proposed deal to sanction unsustainable coastal whaling by Japan in exchange for a reduction in its ongoing "scientific" whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Such a deal would violate the moratorium and established scientific procedures, legitimize Japan's ongoing "scientific" whaling and ignore decades of work by the IWC Scientific Committee.

"Countries that support sound science and whale conservation should reject this deal and instead take action inside and outside the IWC to make the commercial whaling moratorium effective," Ramage said. "The future of the IWC is science-based conservation, not sanctioned commercial slaughter."

A new IFAW report to be released during the Madeira meeting documents the continuing dramatic growth and expanding economic contribution of whale watching worldwide.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve animal welfare, prevent animal cruelty and abuse, protect wildlife and provide animal rescue around the world. From stopping the elephant ivory trade, to ending the Canadian seal hunt and saving the whales from extinction, IFAW works to create solutions that benefit both animals and people.