International Whaling Commission Fails to Find a Way Forward for Whales

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Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Annual Meeting concluding without any results from the three-year effort to reconcile the impasse between pro-whaling and anti-whaling countries.

“We are deeply disappointed that the governments present here could not reach a solution that will benefit whale conservation. In particular, the lack of sufficient flexibility shown by Japan to phase out its whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary prevented progress from being made. Continuation of the impasse here may retain the whaling moratorium on paper, but unregulated whaling outside of IWC control, by Japan, Norway, and Iceland, will now be able to continue.

“We had hoped that for the first time since World War II, the waters of the Southern Ocean--the fragile waters off of Antarctica--would finally be free of high seas whaling vessels. The key to reaching that positive outcome at this meeting was always in Japan's hand and now only Japan can decide if the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary will exist in reality, or only on paper.

“This year has seen the failure of international efforts to guarantee the future of Atlantic bluefin tuna, several species of sharks, coral species, and now whales, at the CITES meetings earlier this year, and now IWC. Japan, the country with the most active role in defeating all of these marine conservation measures, is hosting the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity this October. We hope Japan will take the opportunity provided by this conference to show leadership in marine biodiversity conservation.”