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Proposal to Legalize Commercial Whale Hunting Released
U.S.-Led Deal Would Suspend 25-Year-Old Ban on Whaling

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2010) -- Today the International Whaling Commission announced a draft proposal that would legalize commercial whaling for the first time in a generation. In 1986, after two centuries of whaling pushed whales to near extinction, the whaling commission banned commercial whaling worldwide. The draft proposal will be voted on in June.

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes the 1986 whaling moratorium to be one of the 20th century’s most iconic conservation victories. Unfortunately, the United States has voiced support for the dangerous new proposal to overturn the international moratorium, claiming it will rein in Japan, Iceland and Norway’s annual killings currently in defiance of international law. The Obama Administration must formally decide whether to support the proposal at the IWC meeting in Agadir, Morocco in June.

Following is a statement from Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of NRDC’s marine mammal protection program:

“Whales are among the most magnificent creatures ever to inhabit the Earth. This deal would legalize their slaughter, and there is no ethical, moral, political or economic justification for it. Obama Administration officials portray the United States as leading an effort that would be a “step forward” for the whales, but this deal isn’t a step forward at all. It is a step backward, to a time when it was acceptable to kill whales for profit.”

“The moratorium has done more to save whales than the revival of commercial whaling ever could.  We will do everything we can to stop it – and to persuade the Obama Administration that it should too.”

Background

Japan, Iceland and Norway have killed roughly 30,000 whales since the moratorium was introduced in 1986. In Japan’s case, the killings have been justified under the guise of “scientific research.” Under the deal being considered by the whaling commission, hunting would be legally sanctioned. Prior to the 1986 whaling moratorium, roughly 38,000 whales were killed annually between 1945 and 1986, compared with an average of 1,240 whales killed per year after the moratorium (1987 onwards).

The deal would suspend the moratorium on commercial whaling for 10 years and reward Japan, Norway and Iceland for years of defying international law. It could also open the door to whaling by other countries; Korea has already stated its interest in resuming whaling.  

In addition, the deal does not base catch limits on science, gives no guarantees that the whaling nations won’t continue to whale under legal loopholes, and breathes life into an otherwise dying industry.  The deal also acknowledges that countries could not reach a compromise that would prevent whaling nations from trading in whale meat or products. Under the deal, hunters will be permitted to kill humpback, minke, fin, sperm, sei and Bryde’s, whale species.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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