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July 7, 2011

HSI Calls on International Whaling Commission to Expand Whale Protection

Experts available to media throughout four-day Commission meeting on Isle of Jersey

Humane Society International

  • A sperm whale surfaces off the coast of Greenland. Helle Jørgensbye/Marine Photobank

In an opening statement prepared for the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting, Humane Society International leadership cited the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami as chilling reminders that the IWC has a key role in addressing marine environmental threats now and in the years ahead. The 63rd meeting of the IWC takes place in the Bailiwick of Jersey, part of the British Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands.

In 2010, HSI successfully fought off a proposal by a number of member governments—including the United States—to relax the quarter century old worldwide ban on commercial whaling. This year, with no such threat in play, HSI is pressing the IWC to pursue an expanded agenda to reduce the impacts on the world’s cetacean populations caused by ship strikes, chemical and noise pollution, entanglement, oil spills, radioactive contamination, emerging diseases and climate change. HSI will also support the United Kingdom’s proposal for measures to ensure greater transparency in the operations of the IWC.

“The IWC implemented the ban on commercial whaling in 1986, and it was disappointing to see the U.S. government’s willingness to use it in 2010 as a bargaining chip in an effort to secure its other priorities,” says Kitty Block, HSI vice president. “This year, we will press the United States and other nations to exert strong leadership in advancing an agenda that extends beyond whaling to the broader range of threats that imperil whales throughout our oceans.”

The following is an excerpt from HSI's statement:

It is no secret that the work of the Commission has been hampered by many difficulties and challenges, over the years. However, the IWC is still the preeminent body for cetacean conservation and the work of the IW C scientific committee is unrivaled. There is a developing consensus within the world community at large, that whaling in the 21st century is biologically and economically unsustainable, and that whales deserve the fullest possible protection. It is certainly clear that whales’ future survival is dependent upon meaningful and enforceable protections right now. We look to the IWC to step up and meet this great and worthy challenge.

HSI and its parent organization The Humane Society of the United States, that country’s largest animal protection organization, will have the following expert spokespeople attending the event and interested media may contact them for interviews:

Kitty Block, J.D., HSI vice president is the head of the delegation to the IWC. An expert on legal issues involving the treaty and its implementation, she has been participating in IWC meetings since the late 1990s.

Bernard Unti, Ph.D., is senior policy adviser and special assistant to the president/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, the parent affiliate of Humane Society International. He has served on HSI's IWC strategic and communications team since 2007, applying his knowledge of historical and contemporary aspects of whaling and whale protection.

Rebecca Regnery, HSI deputy director for international wildlife, has worked extensively on campaigns to protect whales, sharks, sea turtles and other species at the IWC and other international forums since 2001.


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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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