June 17, 2010

The Fellowship of the Whale



The time is near for the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting to vote on a proposal to legalize commercial whaling. In fact, it's only days away and the vote could go either way. We've pondered the pros and cons of this proposal before. Also known as the "whaling compromise" it proposes to legalize commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years in exchange for reducing the number of whales killed each year. According to the IWC even with the global ban on whaling an estimated 2000 whales a year fall victim to unregulated whaling.

Alarmingly, some IWC members may abstain from voting on the proposal which allows killing of endangered species-the Sei whale and the Finback whale. There has been a huge global outcry against this proposal, only 30 years after the hard fought battle to ban commercial whaling in the first place.

From our friends at Avaaz:
After the global ban was first implemented on commercial whaling, the number of whales killed each year plummeted from 38,000 per year to just a couple of thousand. It's a testament to the power of humanity to move forward. As we move to confront the other crises of the modern age, let's cherish this legacy of progress -- by joining together now to protect our majestic and intelligent neighbors on this fragile planet.

An amazing piece Flights, Girls, and Cash Buy Japan Whaling Votes in the Sunday Times uncovers that Japan has been using cash, development aid, and yes prostitutes to buy the pro-whaling votes of  IWC members in African, Asian, Pacific and Caribbean states.


Reporters posing as lobbyists offered to buy the anti-whaling votes of IWC members. Their offers were repeatedly weighed against the aid and gifts promised or already bestowed upon them by Japan.  Most had marginal or no interest in whaling. The Sunday Times piece quotes the chief fishing policy adviser to the Marshall Islands as saying the only reason for the Marshall Islands pro-whaling position is because of the financial aid from Japan.

Japan even has landlocked countries believing that whales are threatening their country's food supply. This silly claim is further proof that Japan's "scientific" whaling is a farce.

Since this is a blog and we like to express our personal opinions along with the facts, I'll update you on mine. Although I can see the logic in the whaling compromise and it's potential for conservation, at the 11th hour I must cast my vote to uphold the ban on commercial whaling. I don't trust policy makers enough to hold whale hunters to the proposed quotas, especially after reading the Sunday Times piece. There is already so much illegal killing with the ban in place, I don't believe legalizing whaling will reduce illegal harvesting. I'd like to hope that something like that could work but today at least for, I have little hope for humanity's ability to restrain itself from annihilating itself along with the planet. You can add your name along with 681,289 (at the time of this post) others to a global petition to uphold the ban on commercial whaling here. That number, at least, is hopeful.

You can read what Cristian Maquieira, Chairman of the IWC has to say in defense of the new proposal here.


This post title is borrowed from a PBS documentary by the same name, The Fellowship of the Whales. Watch it here.

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