March 2, 2009
US Congress and Citizens Worldwide Call on President Obama to Help Whales
WASHINGTON — Just days before the International Whaling Commission meets to discuss a proposed shift in direction that could overturn a quarter-century-old ban on commercial whaling, Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States sent a petition signed by tens of thousands of people to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Commerce Nominee Gary Locke to instruct the U.S. delegation at IWC to oppose all forms of non-subsistence whaling. William Hogarth, the U.S. Commissioner to the IWC, is the champion of the controversial proposal.
The call from HSI and The HSUS to reverse U.S. policy and restore America's historic leadership on the issue was echoed in a letter sent last week to President Obama from Reps. Raul Grijalva and Nick Rahall and signed by 21 members of Congress. Congressman Rahall sent a similar letter on Feb. 4. The Hogarth report, released on Feb. 2, was hashed out in closed-door meetings, and proposes a limited resumption of commercial whaling in order to appease the pro-whaling nation of Japan. When news of the deal and the key U.S. role came out in late January, a coalition of groups including HSI, the global arm of The HSUS sent a letter to President Obama urging him to renew and strengthen U.S. policy.
"On the heels of these urgent calls by environmental organizations and the U.S. Congress, the global public adds its collective voice in calling on the government of the United States to reclaim its reputation as a country the world has counted on for many years now to lead efforts to protect whales," said Kitty Block, vice president of HSI.
The proposed deal offers concessions to the pro-whaling countries without any guarantee that the total numbers of whales killed will decrease. A briefing document by a coalition of international environmental organizations including HSI spells out why this so-called deal is fundamentally flawed and should be rejected at the upcoming meeting next week. The Obama Administration is in a unique position to terminate this patently flawed deal and heed the calls from multiple sectors to increase protection for whales rather than increasing opportunities to hunt them.
Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.