Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement in response to the proposal released today by the Chair (Cristian Maquieira of Chile) and Vice-Chair (Anthony Liverpool, Antigua and Barbuda) of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The proposal will be considered at the IWC's annual meeting this June, in Agadir, Morocco.
“The negotiations on the future of the IWC have moved forward with many potential benefits, but unacceptable provisions remain. The draft compromise would allow whaling by Japan in the waters surrounding Antarctica to continue. The safe haven of the IWC-declared Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – and the IWC's moratorium on commercial whaling – should be set in stone, not set aside.
“The proposal released today would phase down but not eliminate the number of whales killed by the annual expedition of Japan's industrial whaling fleet into the environmentally sensitive Southern Ocean and includes a quota for endangered fin whales, which is objectionable. This high seas sanctuary for whales, including endangered fin and humpback whales, must be respected.
“The proposal would help modernize how the IWC works and implement important conservation measures to address a wide range of threats to whales, including entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, noise pollution, and climate change. But these points should not be viewed as bargaining chips to justify abandoning the Southern Ocean Sanctuary and the moratorium on commercial whaling.
“This October Japan will host the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, bringing together the international community to work on the conservation of species and ecosystems across our planet. Japan, as host, must act to protect the marine environment and the magnificent species of the fragile Antarctic ecosystem, by agreeing to phase out its whaling program. We call upon the IWC member governments to take comparable action and stand by their own agreed whale sanctuary, in this, the International Year of Biodiversity.”
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Pew Whale Conservation Project campaign.