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June 8, 2010

Official Whaling Stats Expose Danger of Lifting Commercial Whaling Ban

Online resource illustrates success of ban in saving lives of hundreds of thousands of whales

Humane Society International

With less than two weeks to go before representatives from more than 80 governments meet in Agadir, Morocco to decide on a proposal to lift the 24-year ban on commercial whaling, conservation groups including Humane Society International have released a range of simple online, independent statistics that clearly demonstrate not only how the current International Whaling Commission's ban has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of whales, but also the inconsistencies behind claims that the new proposal will actually save the lives of whales.  

The online animated graphs published today by the Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society International and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society use figures from whaling nations and the IWC to provide a clear overview of the numbers of whales killed from when the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling was signed in 1946 to the present day. The real facts and figures illustrate how effective the current ban has been and sweep away claims by those advocating the lifting of the current ban on the grounds that it has not been successful.

"This set of animated graphics is a simple reminder that it is important to stick to the real facts before calling for an end to what has proved to be one of the biggest successes in conservation history," says Sue Fisher, policy director, WDCS North America.

Many governments are either being misled or are trying to mislead others by referring to "catch quotas" when talking about actual whales being killed — the two are not the same.

These graphs display not just the actual numbers of whales killed within the various categories — commercial, scientific and aboriginal subsistence whaling — but also clearly document the difference between the catch quotas self-allocated by the whaling nations and the actual numbers of whales killed.

"By increasing the self-allocated catch quotas, whaling nations have been playing mind games with the figures and pressuring the rest of the international community into legalizing commercial whaling so that it does not get out of control. In fact, in some countries like Norway, the actual number of whales killed decreased in the past years due to lack of demand for whale meat," explains Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute.

"What we should be concentrating on is not lifting the successful ban that we currently have, but working harder on ways to force the three remaining industrial whaling nations to stop this cruel and unnecessary practice once and for all," states Kitty Block, vice president of HSI.

The new website includes:

  • Whaling Today and Yesterday
  • Total Catches (1946 – 2009)
  • Catches 1982 to 2009 within the following categories and by countries: Commercial Whaling, Special Permit ("Scientific") Whaling, Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling
  • Additional information on the IWC moratorium, the integrity of data used and commentary on the implications of the package proposed by the Chair of the IWC.


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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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