Whales in a Sea of Trouble, Part III
What Does This Mean For You and Me?
The politicians, commissioners, and delegates that attend IWC represent their constituents – you and me the voting, tax-paying public. If the decision to legitimize commercial whaling goes forth, it does so in our name. We need to remind ourselves of this.
Where Does the U.S. Government Stand?
Many conservation leaders were taken aback by Commissioner Medina’s vigorous support for the deal in the name of the US, particularly in light of President Obama’s unambiguously stated position on the issue of whaling as a presidential candidate:
“As President, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.”
Candidate Barack Obama, March 16, 2008
In terms of the US policy, the Package is inconsistent with long-standing policies and whaling and whale conservation.
What About Other Nations?
The European Union (EU) has not yet come up with a definitive joint position in support of, or opposed to, the Package. Many Europeans are frustrated by the lack of unity on the issue – the EU votes as a block on IWC policy, so at this point, anything can happen. Just this week, however, the Parliaments of Germany and the United Kingdom gave the Package the collective “thumbs down”. Confounding the “EU issue” is that Iceland has been vying for a number of years to join the EU. Obviously, the whaling issue represents more than just a slight philosophical difference between Iceland and the EU.
On the other hand, Australia has been on the forefront of advocating for whale conservation and has unambiguously stated that whales should not be hunted at all. There may be specific provisions for some indigenous subsistence whale hunting in northern latitudes , but Australia remains the only country to take a strong position by stating that commercial and ‘scientific’ whaling has no place in contemporary society.
Up to now, Australia’s position has been mostly rhetorical. However, within the past two weeks, the Australian Government has taken unprecedented legal action against Japan over whaling activities in Antarctica within the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary (SOWS).
IWC dysfunction notwithstanding, the moratorium on commercial whaling has been an overwhelming success and has protected thousands of whales since its inception. Indeed, it has been heralded as one of the most effective international conservation tools ever created. That its achievements are challenged by a relatively small group of individuals who seem to believe that a compromise directed to support the interest of commercial whalers may somehow improve the conservation situation is entirely naive and misguided.
The vast majority of the global citizenry has spoken – they oppose the resumption of
whale hunting in any form.
The purpose of government is to represent us – voting citizens – does this Package represent your values and views on whale conservation?