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May 20, 2009

Whales Need to Be Protected Now, HSI Testifies

Humane Society International

WASHINGTON — Humane Society International Vice President Kitty Block testified before a House committee today about the upcoming International Whaling Commission meeting. She urged U.S. officials to take a hard-line approach to protecting whales, in light of a possible deal to overturn the commercial whaling moratorium.

"Now is the time for the United States to act decisively to set a course that leads to an end to all forms of commercial whaling. It is a difficult undertaking, one with significant diplomatic complexities," Block testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.

In March 2008, William Hogarth, chair of the IWC and US commissioner, launched an effort to address the future of international whale conservation as managed by the IWC. Hogarth's plan is to advance a compromise deal to be adopted by consensus at the next IWC meeting.

This deal emerged from numerous closed-door meetings that kept citizens in the dark and produced proposals to legalize coastal commercial whaling, legitimize scientific whaling, and issue ad hoc quotas on a scientifically unsound basis.

HSI is not calling for an end to deliberations about the future of the IWC, but has a vision where global consensus about the majesty and value of these wonderful creatures is honored to the highest degree in our laws, our treaties and our foreign policy negotiations. It is one in which sanctuary boundaries are recognized and respected, and one in which the blight of commercial whaling gives way to the lucrative and sustainable enterprise of responsible whale watching.

The United States needs to once again be a leader in whale protection by rejecting deals that allow for a resumption of commercial whaling and instead champion a way forward that seeks to end the killing of whales for commercial gain.

Facts:

  • Whales are an ancient group of mammals that are now increasingly threatened by the effects of human activities in the ocean.
  • Whalers have traditionally hunted "great whales," a group that includes sperm, blue, fin, humpback and right whales. But whaling has no place in modern society. Humans no longer need the meat or other products from whales, there is no humane method for killing whales, and there are increasing human health concerns from consuming whale, dolphin and porpoise products.
  • In addition, entanglement in debris and fishing gear, chemical and noise pollution and global warming put the long-term survival of these animals at risk.

Click here to read Block's testimony.

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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.

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