News About Whaling


July 6, 2012:

For the past two years, Pacific Whale Foundation, along with numerous other governments, non profits, and animal rights activists, has fought tirelessly to once and for all, “Save the Whales!”  Today marks the conclusion of the 2012 International Whaling Commission meeting, a convention that has spent the last month discussing, debating, arguing and collaborating on the future of the world’s whale populations.  So, are they saved?  Unfortunately it’s a big question, with a not so easy answer.  In some respects, the Commission has made strides towards protecting whales from commercial consumption and overexploitation, striking down Denmark’s proposal (on behalf of Greenland) for an increase in catch limits for humpback and fin whales for its Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) hunt, for example.  Yet in its typical duplicitous fashion, the IWC extended Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling quotas for indigenous populations in Alaska, Russia, St. Vincents, and Grenadines, while simultaneously defeating a bid for a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.  So the result? There’s still a lot of work to be done to save the whales.

Fortunately, through our devoted members and a support system that spans international borders, as well as through the dedication and hard work of our staff here at PWF, we were able to raise the funds to send Greg Kaufman, Dr. Cristina Castro, and Barbara Galleti to IWC proceedings, where they not only represented PWF, but participated as part of the Scientific Committee hearings.  Dr. Cristina Castro also attended the Plenary Session as a representative to Ecuador, and in doing so, represented an integral part of the voting session.

Below is a quick highlight of the meeting’s major results.  Details will be added as news pours in over the weekend.  Look for updates on our Facebook page, and stay plugged in with the meeting as it unfolds via blog posts by Dr. Cristina Castro

The good news!

  • The Commission voted to reject an increased quota request for Denmark on behalf of Greenland, a by doing so, has saved an estimated 1,326 whales over the next six years!  Keep in mind, though, Denmark does have the option to submit a new proposal during an intercessional meeting (2013 at the earliest), and may also re-submit a proposal during the next regularly-scheduled IWC meeting (likely held in 2014 as the Commission is moving to a biennial meeting schedule).  Nevertheless, chalk it up as a Whale Victory!
  • Japan’s request for a quota for small-type coastal whaling was tabled, thus protecting the Japan’s coastal stock of minke whales for at least another year.   

But just when we thought we were getting somewhere…..

  • South Korea utilized the IWC’s world stage to announce its intentions to revive whaling, and is planning to present a formal proposal to hunt whales for “scientific purposes” at next year’s IWC session.  Fortunately, the announcement has incited international outcry, with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States voicing loud opposition to the proposal. 
  • The Commission approved a 6 year extension on current catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling in Russia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and the United States (Alaska).  The six year catch limits of 336 bowhead whales (Alaska), 744 Eastern gray whales (Russia), and 24 humpback whales (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), were set to expire this year, but are now approved until 2018. 
  • The Commission defeated an attempt by the Latin American bloc to establish a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.  Sponsored by Brazil, the sanctuary proposal would not only have joined together the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary (IOWS) and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (SOWS), but would have further boosted Latin America’s growing whale-watching industry – a highly touted economic alternative to whale hunting.     


While the defeats might seem, well frankly, defeating, keep in mind that the more we work together to make our voices heard, the harder it is going to be for pro-whaling nations to tune us out!  We are the only voice the whales have, and it is up to us to keep fighting the good fight, one victory at a time!

May 2011:
Icelandic whaler Kristjian Loftsson, announces that he will not hunt fin whales in 2012. He cited a depressed market in Japan for whale meat following the 2011 tsunami and a failure to reach an agreement with the Association of Icelandic Fishermen on salaries and conditions for deckhands. Loftsson had killed 280 fin whales off the coast of Iceland during the past six years. He was the only whaler in Iceland killing fin whales. 
September 2011:
U.S. President Barack Obama announces diplomatic measures that the United States would take against Iceland in condemnation of its whaling activities. The measures include a directive to the State Department to stop participating in programs where Icelend and the U.S. routinely cooperate, such as those in the Arctic. In addition, U.S. delegations could be forced to raise the issue of whaling when meeting with officials from Iceland or to evaluate the appropriateness of future visits to Iceland.
July 2011:
The United States government takes an important step that could lead to sanctions against Iceland for its continued commercial whaling. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke sent an official "certification" to President Obama under a U.S. law that allows the president to act against foreign countries that violate international animal conservation rules, Locke recommended a series of formal government actions, including sanctions, in response to Iceland's commercial whaling and international trade in fin whale products.
June 2011:
International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee meets in Norway.
Greg Kaufman, President and Founder of Pacific Whale Foundation, is an Invited Participant Member and presents seven research papers.
Click here to read the full story and download copies of the research papers. 
May 2011:
Pacific Whale Foundation joins Whales Need US, a group of non-government organizations (NGOs) from the United States that is working individually and collectively to put an end to whaling. 
March 2011:
United States joins ten other nations in formal demarche against Icelandic whaling.
During the past two years, Iceland has dramatically escalated its harvest of fin whales, the second largest whales on earth.
Icelandic whalers killed 125 fin whales in 2009 and 148 in 2010, even though fin whales are considered endangered.
Traditionally, the people of Iceland have not eaten fin whales. It is believed that Iceland has increased its whaling to supply whale meat to Japan.
In early March, eleven nations -- Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Peru and the United States -- signed and submitted a demarche (a formal diplomatic communication) to the Icelandic embassy in Washington D.C. protesting Iceland’s continuing and increased commercial harvest of whales, particularly the endangered fin whale. The document also protested Iceland’s international trade in whale products.
The demarche also points out that Iceland’s harvest of fin whales does not appear to meet any market demand or need, and it undermines effective international whale conservation efforts. The document also notes the considerable economic, social and educational benefits of Iceland’s growing whale watching industry as a possible alternative to whaling.
June 2010:
Controversial Proposal to Legitimize Whaling is Defeated at IWC Annual Meeting
Leading up to the 2010 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco, it was announced that the voting members would be discussing and possibly voting on a  proposed “Consensus Decision to Improve the Conservation of Whales” -- a plan which had little to do with conservation.  This proposal was simply a not-so-well-disguised attempt to legitimize whale killing by Japan, Norway and Iceland. Under this proposal, these whaling nations would have been able to catch a total of 1,800 whales a year, including two endangered species, fin and sei whales.
As surprising as it may seem, the United States delegation had indicated that was likely to vote yes on this proposal. To read Commissioner Medina's testimony from May 6, 2010 on "U.S. Leadership on the International Whaling Commission and H.R. 2455, the International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2009," click here.
Pacific Whale Foundation submitted a letter to Monica Medina, the U.S. Commissioner to the IWC, urging her to take a strong stand against commercial whaling at the meeting.
Thanks to donations from our members and friends, Pacific Whale Foundation President, Founder and Chief Scientist Greg Kaufman attended the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee Meeting in Morocco as an invited participant and presented two papers based on Pacific Whale Foundation’s research findings to the group. Cristina Castro, our Ecuador Project Research Director, also attended the Scientific Committee Meetings and  the plenary meeting as part of Ecuador's voting delegation. Cristina's leadership was instrumental in uniting the Latin American countries against the pro-whaling proposal.
The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission began on Monday June  21, 2010  in Morocco. Following two days of meetings that were closed to the public and the media, the IWC announced that it would not be moving forward with its controversial proposal to legitimize commercial whaling by Japan, Iceland and Norway. Unfortunately, the IWC said that would consider the proposal at next year's meeting. In the meanwhile, we still have the problem of Japan, Iceland and Norway continuing to hunt and kill whales in defiance of the worldwide moratorium on whaling.
Pacific Whale Foundation presented the following papers at  IWC's Scientific Committee meeting in Morocco in 2010:
Estimation of Survival, Recruitment and Realized Growth Rates of the East Australia Humpback Population (BS-1) Using Temporal Symmetry Models 
2009 Humpback Whale Surveys in the Cairns/Cooktown Management Area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Dr. Castro also attended the Annual Commission meeting from June 21 through 25 as Ecuador's Scientific Advisor. 
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