Denmark causes chaos at whaling meeting

Greenland now has permission to kill 27 humpbacks

Greenland now has permission to kill 27 humpbacks

International Whaling Commission meeting, Portugal: WSPA and fellow NGOs are calling on the United States and European Union nations to oppose a Danish proposal to kill 10 humpback whales a year under the banner of Greenland’s ‘aboriginal subsistence whaling’ (ASW).

At last year’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, member nations rejected the same proposal.

WSPA’s undercover investigation – proving meat from Greenland’s ‘aboriginal subsistence’ hunts was sold commercially in supermarkets – helped defeat the Danish motion and protected humpbacks.

By forcing this controversial vote now, Denmark endangers the good working atmosphere at this year’s IWC meeting, which has achieved consensus on a number of topics. They also risk accusations of hijacking cultural needs for political and economic purposes.

Failing to play by the rules

Conservationists and animal welfare campaigners do not oppose ASW proposals when they are based on legitimate subsistence needs and have been fully considered by the IWC. 

But Denmark’s proposal for a greater quota for Greenland falls far short of IWC standards. As it was submitted at the last minute, member states and the IWC technical committee are unable to fairly evaluate it.

WSPA, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), Humane Society International (HSI) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) are particularly concerned that the proposal:

  • is based on insufficient, contradictory and unvalidated data 
  • would blur the distinctions between commercial and aboriginal subsistence whaling
  • provides no convincing needs statement
  • lacks a key component to assign quotas based on subsistence needs.

Need for a united front

Agreeing Denmark’s request would set a dangerous precedent, suggesting the IWC will approve whaling quotas that are not based on science or presented within the organisation’s rules.

Claire Bass, WSPA Marine Mammals Programme Manager, says: “To approve this quota now would leave the IWC unaccountable to science and unaccountable to proper procedures – this is completely the wrong precedent to set as the IWC negotiates its future. Denmark has full opportunity to come back next year and provide the Commission with the data it needs to make a fully informed decision.”

WSPA, WDCS, HSI and AWI ask the EU and USA to stand together in defending high standards at IWC.

Making a splash against ‘scientific’ whaling

Olympian Leisel Jones presents Peter Garrett, Australia's Environment Minister, with public opinion on whale welfare

Olympian Leisel Jones presents Peter Garrett, Australia's Environment Minister, with public opinion on whale welfare

© Francisco Gonçalves/IFAW

Elsewhere at the IWC, Olympic gold medallist and WSPA supporter Leisel Jones has argued that research into whales should be based on observation and humane techniques and called for an end to ‘scientific’ whaling. 

At a press conference on 23 June, Leisel handed the signatures of over 15,000 fellow Australians to Environment Minister Peter Garrett, stating: “The intense pain and distress caused by whaling is a fact that can’t be refuted by whaling nations and is the reason Australians are so strongly opposed to whaling.”
The signatures took the form of a large whale image, created from the names of the thousands of Australians who agree there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.

Peter Garrett said: “Australia is strongly of the view that all whale research must be underpinned by genuine scientific need and must be undertaken in the most humane and ethical way.”

Australians are not alone. A hugely successful international public petition signed by over 67,000 people was also presented at this year's IWC meeting. Read more >>

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