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WDCS says: Ludicrous EU ‘voting’ system strips the rights of Europe’s citizens to oppose whale hunts

March 3, 2010

The following post is a press release from WDCS on the issue of the deal currently under debate in the intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission:

Whaling? Not in my name.

3rd March 2010

Ludicrous EU ‘voting’ system strips the rights of Europe’s citizens to oppose whale hunts

The citizens of Europe could find that they are inadvertently voting for a return to commercial whaling this week whether they like it or not.

In one of the most dramatic moves to remove the democratic rights of Europe’s citizens, European bureaucrats have created a procedural ‘Catch-22’, which means that a single pro-whaling country (Denmark) can now dictate the whole EU position on whaling. As a result, European citizens can no longer be assured that their elected governments are free to represent their views and, indeed, must go against their declared position to protect whales.

The whole shameful scenario is being played out at the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) intersessional meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, on the 4th and 5th March.  EU members have been legally advised that, if they cannot reach consensus on a proposal to increase Greenland’s quota by 10 humpback whales, they must abstain at the IWC meeting.

EU countries make up almost one third of the membership of the IWC and, because a vote of this type requires a three-quarter majority to pass, a mass abstention by the EU would almost certainly result in the proposal being adopted.

“It is a farcical situation”, says Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s chief executive, Chris Butler-Stroud. “The ludicrous EU voting system effectively means that the UK and other Members of the European Union who oppose Greenland’s proposal to hunt humpback whales can not act in the interests of whale conservation as their hands have been tied firmly behind their backs.

“This is rule by force, continues Butler-Stroud. “Europe’s citizens have long opposed whaling but we now find ourselves forced into abdicating our strong, democratically established position because of the spurious guidance of unelected bureaucrats.”

There are also further reaching, and catastrophic consequences beyond this current proposal as Butler-Stroud explains.

“The same situation is likely to arise at the annual IWC meeting in June when the IWC will consider a proposal to suspend the global moratorium and allow commercial whaling to resume.

“We anticipate that the EU IWC Members will not be able to find consensus on this deeply controversial proposal. If they have to abstain en masse at the next IWC annual meeting (IWC62), and the proposal is adopted, the consequences for whales and the future of the IWC are devastating.

“These ‘bureaucratic procedures’ are making a mockery out of the European Union on the international stage”

“Commercial whaling will have returned and the people of Europe will have inadvertently helped give birth to this renewed slaughter of the world’s whales regardless of their overwhelming opposition to it. How can that be right?”

Chris Butler Stroud, WDCS International CEO has also written an excellent Green Room piece on the subject.

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