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September 11, 2014

Humane Society International Calls on the International Whaling Commission to Curb Violations of Global Moratorium

Delegation heads to Portoroz, Slovenia for four days of talks

Humane Society International

  • Adam Bennie/istock

With the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission set to begin 15 September in Portoroz, Slovenia, pro-conservation countries are once again preparing to take on Japan and other pro-whaling nations. The fight will be over the integrity of the global commercial whaling moratorium that has spared tens of thousands of whales from the harpoon since 1982.

As always, Humane Society International’s delegation will be at the meeting. Top priorities this year include:

  • Urging whale-friendly governments to “step it up” in pressing for stronger protection for whales and turning back efforts to dilute the worldwide commercial whaling moratorium;
  • Encouraging IWC Commissioners to take all necessary steps to prevent Japan from further whaling in light of the International Court of Justice’s March 2014 judgment that Japan’s Antarctic whaling did not qualify as scientific research and thus undermined the moratorium; and
  • Opposing Japan’s attempts to create a new category of coastal whaling and Greenland’s proposal to expand aboriginal (subsistence) whaling, both of which would allow commercial sale of whale meat and similarly threaten to undermine the moratorium.

HSI Vice President Kitty Block said: “This year we intend to press all of the nations whose citizens care about whales to exert strong leadership in halting the spread of new whaling proposals. We will challenge IWC Commissioners to adopt an agenda that extends beyond whaling to the broader range of threats that imperil whales throughout our oceans.”

HSI’s agenda also will include vigorous opposition to continued whaling and international trade of endangered whales by Iceland. A poll commissioned by HSI and other leading animal groups revealed that nine out of 10 people in the United Kingdom and Germany oppose Iceland’s commercial whaling.

HSI also will push for strong support for the creation of a sanctuary in the South Atlantic; expanded conservation efforts by the IWC to address other threats to whales, including climate change and marine debris; and an extension of the IWC’s whale welfare agenda in regard to such issues as ship strikes, stranding events and entanglement in nets.

The following excerpts are from HSI's opening statement:

“The ICJ effectively issued a cease and desist order in respect to Southern Ocean whaling, and provided guidance for future deliberations of special permit applications, both of which the IWC and its member nations should heed. The ICRW [International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling] was born in the same spirit of comity and acknowledgment of the rule of law that motivated the founding of the United Nations and the ICJ.  It is the responsibility of the IWC and of all of the national delegations assembled for IWC 65 in Portoroz to honor the ICJ ruling.”

“The member nations should neither countenance the commercialization of aboriginal subsistence whaling, on the one hand, nor the aboriginalization of commercial whaling, on the other.”

The following individuals will represent HSI and its partner organization, The Humane Society of the United States, at the meetings:

  • 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.
  • Mark Peter Simmonds, OBE is HSI's senior marine scientist. An environmental scientist and marine biologist, he has served for 20 years on the IWC Scientific Committee. His main field of scientific endeavor concerns investigating and addressing human threats to marine mammals. He has published widely in the scientific literature on issues including chemical and noise pollution, climate change and whale and dolphin biology and also authored/edited several books.
  • Alexia Wellbelove is senior program manager at HSI Australia and member of the Whales Roundtable. She has worked on IWC matters at HSI and within Australia for the past five years. Prior to that she was Director of the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Link for four years working extensively on IWC in the UK. She currently leads HSI Australia’s work on marine and other wildlife campaigns.
  • Bernard Unti, Ph.D., is senior policy adviser and special assistant to the president/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. 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 Email: bunti@hsi.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.
  • Grettel Delgadillo is program coordinator for HSI/Latin America and coordinates marine and other wildlife campaigns in the region as well as trainings with governments and local NGOs, including the IWC, on implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for Central America and Dominican Republic.

U.S. Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, +1 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org
Europe Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44 (0)7989 972 423 (United Kingdom), whiggins@hsi.org

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