With the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama this week, Representatives Bill Keating and Howard Berman have introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives about the importance of U.S. leadership in whale conservation.
The resolution to address issues threatening whale populations came at a critical point as the IWC convenes in Panama this week (July 2-6). Keating and Berman introduced the resolution to reaffirm the United States’ position both as a leader in whale conservation and as an outspoken opponent of commercial whaling.
The text of the resolution expressed support for ending "commercial whaling in all of its forms and to strengthen measures to conserve whale populations." It also took a stab at the moratorium on commercial whaling which, it said, "includes a scientific research exemption that has been exploited to allow whaling on a commercial scale."
"Now is the time to once again raise awareness of the threats facing the world’s whale populations," Rep. Berman said. "The tradition of American leadership in whale conservation efforts is crucial to their survival and to fight against the slaughter of whales" he added, "we must remain steadfast in our commitment to a world without commercial whaling."
As well as seeking support for an end to commercial whaling including for scientific purposes, the resolution also sought to strengthen conservation and management measures for whale species and populations, "including support for the establishment of the South Atlantic Ocean whale sanctuary."
Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Program Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said, "While Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to ignore the thirty year moratorium on commercial whaling, the U.S. government has been a beacon of hope, leading efforts to protect the species," he added.
After playing critical roles Ramage said, in establishing the ban and the designation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica in the early 1990s, "once again," he explained, "U.S. leadership is needed to ensure a safer future for the world's whales."
According to a report by IFAW published June 27, "seventy-five percent of Japan’s 2011 North Pacific whaling season meat went unsold despite thirteen separate public auctions."
Citing a recent survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, IFAW also said that "77 percent of Americans" agreed their country should "adopt a broad whale conservation program," while eighty-nine percent, believed the "U.S. should help enforce the global ban on commercial whaling." A further 78 percent, wanted "high-level U.S. government officials" to publicly speak out against the commercial whaling programs conducted by Japan, Norway and Iceland.
Whales not only face threats because of whaling said the Fund, but they are also at risk from environmental threats. To aid the government IFAW adds, they have developed a "comprehensive action plan called the Blueprint for U.S. Whale Conservation. The plan they said, "highlights current solutions and recommends simple, effective next steps the U.S. government should take to secure a better future for whales in waters around the world."
As for the resolution, Reps. Keating and Berman's resolution are also asking the President and the international community to support modernizing the International Whaling Commission so it is "consistent with other international conservation organizations." Ongoing research efforts are also needed they said, and are critical for understanding, preventing and mitigating threats to whales and their habitat.
In applauding the Representatives for "their strong stance," Jeff Flocken, the DC Office Director for IFAW, said that "the magnificent whales of the ocean swim through a sea of troubles. It is not enough to simply be a member of IWC and oppose whaling" he added, "countries need to turn up to meetings, raise their hands and speak up for whales."