WSPA will be fighting next week to save the ban on commercial whaling and to prevent the cruel slaughter of ten humpback whales at a make or break meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Florida.
The meeting (2nd-5th March) has been called for two reasons: firstly to discuss the future of the IWC, including a deal which would spell disaster for whales, and secondly to vote on Greenland’s request to increase its quota of whales.
An uncertain future for the whaling ban
Years of dead-end discussions about ongoing and escalating catches of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway have led to frustration on both sides of the debate. The most recent attempts to resolve the deadlock have led to a potentially disastrous deal which would legitimise commercial whaling and destroy the whaling ban.
The deal seeks to bring existing commercial whaling under IWC control and potentially reduce the number of whales killed in the short-term. But it would fail to stop Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean sanctuary and would award new quotas to all three whaling nations, effectively destroying the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling and opening the floodgates for the whaling industry to grow in other countries.
Thousands of whales would continue to face slow and painful deaths by exploding harpoons. With no option for humane, instantaneous death, WSPA strongly opposes any potential ‘deal’ which would legitimise this cruel and unnecessary practice.
Claire Bass, WSPA’s marine mammal programme manager, says; “This proposal rewards the bad behaviour of Japan, Norway and Iceland – who have collectively killed over 25,000 whales since the whaling ban took effect. It fails to address the fundamental problem with whaling, that it causes extraordinary suffering. The cruelty of whaling has no place in the 21st Century. We strongly urge the IWC to reject this deal.”
Humpbacks face the harpoon again
At last year’s annual IWC meeting, a controversial vote on Greenland’s repeated demands for a new subsistence whaling quota of 10 humpback whales was postponed.
However the humpbacks now face the harpoon again as the IWC will be pressed at next week’s meeting to finally make a decision over their fate.
Greenland is allowed to hunt whales for subsistence purposes and already has an annual quota of 233 whales, but claims to need even more whale meat. However Greenland has failed to explain why this extra meat is needed and the IWC’s Scientific Committee has not been able to establish the quantity of meat provided by the animals they already catch.
‘Questionable Quotas’ a new report by the WSPA and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) highlights Greenland’s wasteful processing methods which discard as much as 80% of each whale. In addition the widespread sale of whale meat in supermarkets, first documented by WSPA in 2008, suggests that there is in fact a surplus, not a deficit of whale meat in Greenland.
Claire Bass, WSPA’s marine mammal programme manager, says: “Around 25% of the whales killed for ‘aboriginal subsistence’ purposes in Greenland end up on supermarket shelves - as far as we are concerned commercial whaling was banned in 1986 and that should apply to Greenland as much as any other nation. It’s completely unacceptable to add humpback whales to Greenland’s shopping list.”
WSPA and other members of the Whalewatch network will be at next week’s meeting to urge members to vote against the humpback proposal and to ensure that the whaling ban remains intact.