26 April 2010

IWC releases proposal that would end whaling ban

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) unveiled a proposal that if passed would end the ban on commercial whaling and not surprisingly animal rights and conservation groups are not pleased with the details of the plan.

"This plan is a whaler's wish list," said Patrick Ramage, IFAW's (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Whale Program Director. "It throws a lifeline to a dying industry when endangered whale populations face more threats than ever before. This would be a breathtaking reversal of decades of U.S. leadership and conservation progress at the IWC."

According to IFAW the proposal would allow hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, approve the killing of whales for commercial purposes by Japan around Antarctica and in the North Pacific and allow Iceland and Norway to continue whaling—both countries have been in violation of long standing scientific procedures and have defied the global whaling moratorium.

And even though the plan includes the implementation of quotas and purportedly would improve the IWC’s ability to govern whaling activities many still believe the eventuality of legalizing the hunt is not worth the few positive changes the proposal offers.

"The proposal released today would phase down but not eliminate the number of whales killed by the annual expedition of Japan's industrial whaling fleet into the environmentally sensitive Southern Ocean and includes a quota for endangered fin whales, which is objectionable. This high seas sanctuary for whales, including endangered fin and humpback whales, must be respected,” said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group."The proposal would help modernize how the IWC works and implement important conservation measures to address a wide range of threats to whales, including entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, noise pollution, and climate change. But these points should not be viewed as bargaining chips to justify abandoning the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and the moratorium on commercial whaling.”

The proposal will now be considered by the IWC at its annual meeting this June in Morocco. A yes vote from three-quarters of the IWC’s membership countries is required for passage.

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