A draft plan unveiled today proposes to legalise commercial whaling for the first time since a 1986 moratorium made it illegal to hunt whales for commercial purposes. The International Fund for Animal Welfare claims the proposal “puts science on hold”.
A draft plan unveiled today (February 23) proposes to legalise commercial whaling for the first time since a 1986 moratorium made it illegal to hunt whales for commercial purposes. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has claimed the proposal “puts science on hold”.
The plan was drafted by member countries of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an international body which meets annually to set global policy on whaling and whale conservation.
Despite the moratorium, three of the IWC’s 88 member countries (Japan, Norway, and Iceland) have continued to hunt whales and, in recent years, IFAW claims Japan has “aggressively recruited” votes at the IWC to lift the ban on commercial whaling – an action that has split the commission between pro-conservation and pro-hunting countries.
Some IWC members believe this near-deadlock is untenable and, in response, a subset of countries has been meeting privately to craft a compromise, which was published today.
The draft proposal will now be considered at an IWC working group meeting in St Pete Beach, Florida, beginning March 2. A version of the proposal will then be considered by the full membership of the IWC at June’s annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco.
Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s whale programme director, said: “This is a proposal for the long-term conservation of whaling, not whales. In return for insignificant, short-term concessions from Japan, Iceland and Norway, the IWC would legalise commercial whaling in the 21st Century.
“This deal would be a sea change in a quarter century of whale conservation. It puts science on hold, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary on ice, and no restrictions whatsoever on the international trade in whale meat. And after 10 years, all bets are off – no more moratorium and much more whaling.”