Pew Seeks Common Voice to Conserve Whales, Pew Whale Symposium to be Presented at International Whaling Commission Meeting

Pew Seeks Common Voice to Conserve Whales, Pew Whale Symposium to be Presented at International Whaling Commission Meeting

The Pew Environment Group calls on members of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, this week to resolve an impasse over commercial and scientific whaling that threatens the conservation of whales. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of an international moratorium on commercial whaling, an historic conservation achievement that saved many whale species from commercial extinction. Despite the moratorium, commercial and scientific whaling continues, with more than 2000 whales killed this past year, more than in any year since 1986, when the moratorium entered into effect. "The protection of whales is a global concern," said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. "The current regime to conserve whales is failing to do the job. Unless the global community can find a better way to address some of the weaknesses of the current whale conservation regime, these animals face an increasingly uncertain future."

Pew Symposium Results on IWC Agenda

On April 12 and 13, Pew convened a symposium at United Nations headquarters in New York attended by 67 people from 29 nationalities with expertise in whale science, conservation, policy and law. Participants came from the worlds of government (national and intergovernmental organizations), academia and non-governmental organizations. The goal was to find a "common voice" and "common language" to break the impasse at the IWC that threatens the recovery of the world's whales. The Pew Symposium followed on the heels of a meeting hosted by the Japanese Fisheries Agency in Tokyo to discuss "Normalizing" the IWC, perhaps paving the way for lifting the moratorium.

"There are powerful forces that favor an official resumption of commercial whaling," Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former prime minister of New Zealand, IWC commissioner and chair of the symposium, said in his opening remarks. "The International Whaling Commission has been polarized and divided for about 15 years over the issue. This symposium was designed to investigate in an open-minded way whether there are ways through the painful impasse."

The Secretariat of the International Whaling Commission circulated the Pew Whale Symposium outcome along with the report of the 'Normalization' meeting under Agenda Item 7 of the Anchorage meeting: "The IWC in the Future."

"We're pleased that the symposium could provide the appropriate balance for this key discussion on the future of the IWC," said Reichert.

Pew Whale Conservation Project Seeks "Common Voice"

Pew also announces the appointment of Monica Medina as the director of the Pew Whale Conservation Project ( Ms. Medina comes to Pew from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), where she most recently served as the acting director of IFAW's U.S. office. Ms. Medina worked extensively on whale conservation policy at IFAW and helped to establish the WhalesneedUS coalition. Her prior roles include serving as general counsel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where she played a major role in organizing the 1998 National Ocean Conference. She also was deputy associate attorney general and counsel to the assistant attorney general for the environment division at the U.S. Department of Justice and was senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Medina will be joined by Rémi Parmentier, senior policy advisor to the whale conservation project. Mr. Parmentier directed the Secretariat of the Pew Whale Symposium and has worked extensively on marine conservation and other environmental and social issues for more than 30 years. Mr. Parmentier comes to Pew from the Varda Group, and resides in Madrid.

The goals of the Pew Whale Conservation Project are to:

  • Eliminate self-described "scientific" whaling programs that kill more than 2,000 whales each year, including species that are threatened and endangered;
  • Establish a true, whaling-free Southern Hemisphere, which would protect key feeding and breeding areas; and
  • Promote a binding regime that significantly and permanently curtails whaling activities from Japan, Norway and Iceland while preventing other nations from initiating new commercial whaling activities.

"The Pew Whale Conservation Project will continue to work with governments, non-governmental organizations, scientists and individuals that share these objectives and want to move past the current impasse at the IWC," said Medina.

The world's oceans are home to at least 80 species of cetaceans including dolphins and porpoises. These are divided into baleen, filter feeding whales and toothed whales. There are 13 species of baleen whales ranging in size from the pigmy right whales to the blue whale, the largest animal on earth. Of toothed cetaceans there are approximately 70 species. These include orca, sperm, pilot and beluga whales. There are about 20 species of beaked whales and 46 species of dolphins and porpoises.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Pew Whale Conservation Project campaign.