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June 27, 2012

HSI Calls on International Whaling Commission to Expand Whale Protection

Delegation heads to Panama for four days of talks

Humane Society International

  • The time is right for the IWC to step up and help protect whales from the countless threats they currently face. Naomi Blinick/Marine Photobank

Humane Society International’s delegation to the 64th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, which begins on Monday in Panama City, Panama, is hopeful agreements on stronger protection for whales can be achieved despite ongoing efforts by whaling nations to upend the commercial whaling moratorium.  

HSI will support the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and Monaco’s proposal for greater United Nations involvement in whale protection and ocean governance. HSI will oppose Japan’s proposal for small-vessel coastal whaling, which HSI considers a violation of the 30-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling, and argue for the highest standard of scientific scrutiny in regard to Denmark’s application for an increased whaling quota for Greenland and other aboriginal subsistence whaling proposals being considered at this year’s meeting.

The conference has been the scene of great drama in recent years.  Last year, the Japanese delegation led a walk out on the final day, after the Latin American bloc of nations advanced their proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.  In 2010, HSI and its allies 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, 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, including ship strikes, chemical and noise pollution, entanglement, oil spills, radioactive contamination, emerging diseases and climate change,” says Kitty Block, HSI vice president, who will be attending the IWC meeting for the 14th time.

In its opening statement, HSI leadership cited the recent GEO-5 report from the United Nations Environment Program, which celebrated the IWC’s transition from a body devoted to whaling to a global force for protecting whales and encouraging non-consumptive practices such as whale watching.  HSI also cited a recent unexplained die-off of 900 dolphins along the coast of Peru as a reminder of the need for the IWC to respond to marine environmental threats now and in the years ahead.  

The following is an excerpt from HSI's statement:

“In a real sense, the IWC embraced its future 30 years ago, in 1982, when it adopted the moratorium on commercial whaling, which history has judged as a bold and necessary, if difficult advance.  Now, history waits for the IWC to act decisively for whale conservation and the preservation and health of ocean habits, by transcending the question of whaling and extending its role in relation to the myriad troubles that beset the world’s whales and their habitats.” 

HSI and its parent organization The Humane Society of the United States, that country’s largest animal protection organization, have sent the following experts to Panama, and interested media may contact them directly 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. Mobile: 011-240-888-4424  E mail: kblock@humanesociety.org
  • 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. Mobile: 011-301-980-6882  E mail: bunti@humanesociety.org
  • 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. Mobile:  011-240-401-4216  E mail: rregnery@humanesociety.org
     
  • Grettel Delgadillo, program coordinator for HSI/Latin America, coordinates trainings with governments and local NGOs on humane handling of confiscated neo-tropical wildlife and appropriate implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for Central America and Dominican Republic. Mobile: 506835593500  Email: gdelgadillo@hsi.org

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Media Contact: Humane Society International: Rebecca Basu, 301-258-3152

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 programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org

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