Pew Whales Commission Calls for Ministers to Break Whaling Wall

Pew Whales Commission Calls for Ministers to Break Whaling Wall

The Pew Whales Commission, a high level body of eminent diplomats, judges, lawyers, scientists and former Ministers, today called for government ministers to resolve the whaling stalemate.

"The Pew Whales Commission agreed on the need for a higher level of political muscle to move the International Whaling Commission (IWC) out of its current impasse," said Dr. Peter Bridgewater, Commission Chair and former chair of the IWC. "All agreed that the IWC must be preserved as the organization to conserve whales, but it needs to be brought up to date. The 1946 treaty simply does not protect whales from the threats of the 21st century."

The IWC is going through a process for reform, amidst controversy over Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. Last week, the IWC's senior negotiator released a series of recommendations and options to break the impasse.

"During our two-day meeting, almost all agreed that whaling in the Southern Ocean should end as rapidly as possible, and welcomed the IWC's negotiator's suggestion of an established whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic," said Dr. Bridgewater.

Dr. Bridgewater reported widespread agreement among participants on a range of issues important to resolving the whaling controversies, including:

  • Eliminating international trade in whale products to prevent new markets from being created; 
  • Strengthening enforcement and compliance of national and international rules to improve governance; 
  • Protecting threatened and endangered whales in the Northern Pacific and throughout the world; and, 
  • Revising the 1946 treaty to align it with modern international policies.

The full report from the Pew Whales Commission will be released in two weeks. The IWC will be hosting a special meeting to continue its negotiations in Rome on 9 - 11 March, 2009. This will be followed by its annual meeting in Madeira in June, 2009, during which the parties hope to reach agreement on a way forward.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Pew Whale Conservation Project campaign.