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A Good Deal For Whalers And A Poor Deal For Whales

April 9, 2010

In this week’s New Scientist magazine, two experts from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) deliver an important critique of the increasingly controversial proposal to be put to the vote at the next International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in June.

If approved by the majority of member States, the proposal will not only allow commercial whaling to resume after a 24 year ban, but will also give the green light to other countries looking to commence hunting. It will be a massive step backwards for the conservation movement.

They open their article will a chill word of warning:

A proposal before the IWC could lead to the resumption of commercial whaling as early as next year. If it passes – and there is a real chance that it will – one of the greatest conservation successes of our time will be wiped out.

The authors, Mark Simmonds and Sue Fisher, who have been attending the IWC meetings for over 15 years and have significant credential to speak on this subject. They point out that even with the moratorium in place, hundreds of whales are still killed every year, because the IWC allows nations to grant themselves ‘special permits’ for research – permits that are exploited for commercial ends.

Their article details the track of discussions of the past decade for this conflicted mutli-lateral body and gives a solid snapshot for anyone wishing to understand how things have gone so terribly, terribly wrong.

They also warn us that what is to transpire in June this year is nothing short of legitimization of Japan, Norway and Iceland’s whaling, allowing these countries to carry on hunting whales commercially without recourse.

As if the ‘deal’ is already done, readers will probably be shocked to discover that negotiations are now under way to set quotas for the species that will be commercially hunted: humpback, sperm, minke, sei, fin and Bryde’s whales.

WDCS has been putting a spotlight on the EU for over a year now, and Fisher and Simmonds reminds us that:

… the European Union, which holds enough votes to defeat [the deal], is in disarray over its internal decision-making. Unless the 25 EU members of the IWC can reach consensus (which is virtually impossible) they will probably have to abstain. EU nations might like to recall that whales are entirely unsuitable for sustainable use, being long-living, slow-reproducing animals, which are incredibly expensive to monitor adequately. Whaling is also irredeemably inhumane.

The full article is now online, and I urge anyone wanting to understand more to read it.

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