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June 21, 2010

Humane Society International Calls for Protections as Whaling Commission Meeting Starts

Experts available for media interviews throughout meeting

Humane Society International calls for continued protections of whales in its opening statement, as the 62nd Meeting of the International Whaling Commission gets underway in Agadir, Morocco this week.

The worldwide ban on commercial whaling has been in place for more than two decades and is in danger of being overturned at Agadir. The IWC is expected to vote on a proposal that would allow a resumption of commercial whaling in exchange for promises by three whaling nations to reduce the numbers of whales they kill each year.

IWC member countries originally adopted the ban in 1982 (implementing it in 1986) to protect whales from extinction after decades of slaughter. This conservation measure was a landmark decision and was achieved in great measure because of the United States' leadership. For the past two years, however, a small group of IWC parties, including the United States, has been working on a compromise package that is being portrayed as a way to resolve a dysfunction within the IWC.  

The following is an excerpt from HSI's statement:

"In our view, the IWC should not adopt any proposal that forfeits the enormous gains embodied in the commercial whaling moratorium, the best conservation tool ever enacted to ensure the recovery of whale populations and prevent their future decline. Instead of negotiating a deal that would effectively end the moratorium, we would encourage countries that want to ensure the survival of the great whales to employ a broader range of diplomatic tools and engagement.

Conservation-minded countries should be pursuing every available means to convince the whaling nations that now is not the time to increase the pressure on whales with all of the other threats they are facing and the continued lack of recovery of many species and stocks. Whales and other marine mammals are at serious risk in the world today, and we look to the IWC to step up and meet this great and worthy challenge."

Experts and contact information:

1.      Kitty Block, vice president, Humane Society International, is the head of the Humane Society International delegation to the IWC and our expert on all things related to the International Whaling Commission and its functioning. She has been participating in IWC meetings since the late 1990s. She is an expert on legal issues involving the treaty and its implementation. kblock@humanesociety.org

2.      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 team since 2007, handling communications, drafting and reporting duties. He has also represented Humane Society International in campaigns and initiatives concerning chimpanzee protection in West Africa, the harassment of petkeepers in Iran, the roundup of pets in the Republic of China and the beneficial effects of petkeeping, in addition to whaling and the global fishery. bunti@humanesociety.org

For further information on oceans, click here.

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

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