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A proposed ‘deal’ to allow coastal whaling by Japan received a muted response at the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) intersessional meeting last week, with several countries privately expressing their opposition to the WSPA team.
The proposal, which is likely to be voted on at the IWC annual meeting in June, puts sociable and gentle minke whales in danger and united the world’s leading anti-whaling organisations in condemnation.
The member countries present at the intersessional in Rome last week declined to discuss the proposal further at this stage, suggesting little enthusiasm for it.
But despite several countries expressing their opposition to the WSPA team, who attended the meeting as observers, this is no time to be complacent.
The danger to whale welfare was highlighted when South Korea announced that if Japan is awarded a coastal whaling quota by the IWC, it may also want one.
Alongside other anti-whaling organisations, WSPA had predicted and warned of this in our joint briefing – any deal which allows whaling would undermine and effectively lift the global whaling ban, opening the floodgates.
Gentle and sociable: a minke with her calf
The many anti-whaling organisations present at the meeting put forward a WSPA member society, Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge (Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals), to address the Commission in a five-minute slot offered to observers.
We worked closely with Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge to produce the speech, which focussed strongly on the welfare objections to whaling.
It called on the IWC to modernise itself in line with 21st century commitments to protect animal welfare. It also urged the Commission to recognise its responsibility not only to protect whales from extinction, but also to protect these sentient animals from extreme suffering.
This was the first time a Norwegian group has addressed the IWC with objections to the cruelty of whaling, representing a positive step in our campaign to end commercial whaling in Norway.
WSPA is now preparing for the annual IWC meeting in June. We aim to ensure the international ban on commercial whaling is upheld and that governments stand firm against ‘deals’ which would allow senseless suffering.
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