SAPL eAlert: Help Us Stop U.S. Capitulation to Whalers

April 9th, 2007 5:43 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Cathy Liss, Legislative Director – action [at] saplonline.org
Date: Apr 9, 2007 11:10 AM
Subject: SAPL eAlert: Help Us Stop U.S. Capitulation to Whalers

April 9, 2007

Help Us Stop U.S. Capitulation to Whalers

Japan and other pro-whaling countries are on the brink of overturning the 20-year-old moratorium that bans commercial whaling. Through aggressive vote recruitment, Japan is poised to take over the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Since the moratorium came into force in 1986, some IWC member nations have continued to whale commercially by exploiting loopholes in the whaling convention. For instance, Japan conducts lethal “research” whaling, and the meat ends up being sold in stores, Norway whales commercially under an objection it lodged when the moratorium was passed, and Iceland does both. In addition to the commercial killing of whales, aboriginal subsistence whaling conducted by natives in the United States, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Russian Federation, and Greenland is performed through the allocation of quotas by the IWC, based on recommendations by its scientific committee.

You may recall that, at last year’s IWC meeting, the pro-whaling nations achieved a simple majority on a single issue for the first time in decades. This year’s meeting is being held in Anchorage, Alaska, and the venue may turn out to be a bitter embarrassment for the United States, as it is being hobbled by Japan over its own “whaling needs.”

Home Field (Dis)Advantage

The next meeting is pivotal because all the 5-year aboriginal subsistence whaling quotas are up for renewal. At the 2002 meeting when the quotas were last renewed, Japan led the pro-whaling nations in blocking the passing of the U.S./Russia joint quota request for bowhead whales hunted by Alaskan and Russian Federation natives. After a special meeting of the IWC was convened later that year, the bowhead whale quota passed and in an unprecedented move, the United States voted in favor of a Japanese proposal to resume its small-type coastal whaling industry. Since that time, the United States – once staunchest defender of the whales – has become progressively weaker on whaling issues.

Japan intends to block the bowhead quota again at the Anchorage meeting and it again intends to submit a proposal for a resumption of its small-type coastal whaling, which it is rumored to be packaging as somehow satisfying an aboriginal need. AWI has repeatedly called the United States on its weakening stance on whaling, and we foresee the U.S. once again caving into the Japanese threat. This time, with such a delicate balance of conservation versus pro-whaling IWC members, a U.S. capitulation could lead to approval by the IWC for Japan’s coastal whaling, which will sound the death knell of the moratorium.

A Resumption of Coastal Whaling is a Resumption of Commercial Whaling

To secure a resumption of Japanese coastal whaling, the moratorium will have to be lifted partially. This will lead to the continued erosion of the moratorium and will have a direct impact on the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international treaty that governs trade in whale products.

All of the great whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which bans international trade in their parts and products. The Appendix I listing is largely due to the IWC moratorium, and in addition, CITES member countries have adopted a resolution giving deference to the IWC in regards to the management of whales. The next CITES meeting takes place this June, and Japan plans to introduce a proposal for status reviews of all whales to determine the applicability of the Appendix I designation. With even a partial lifting of the whaling moratorium, some or all of the great whales could be removed from CITES protection, leading to the resumption of international trade in whale products.

Whales Face a Tenuous Future Even Without the Threat of Cruel Whaling

Japan purports that whales can sustain commercial hunting, but this is not true. Populations have not recovered sufficiently to sustain hunting, especially given the other threats that whales face. These threats include toxic pollutants such as DDT, PCBs and mercury; high intensity noise from military sonar and air guns; by-catch (with some 300,000 dolphins and whales drowned every year after they become entangled in fishing nets and other gear); habitat destruction; over-fishing of prey species; ship strikes; and climate change, which impacts whale habitat, migration routes and the availability of prey species.

Even if whale populations were sufficiently robust such that a resumption of commercial whaling could occur, whaling is inherently cruel. This is because even the most advanced whaling methods can neither kill the animals instantaneously nor render them irreversibly insensitive to pain prior to death. Modern whaling involves the use of exploding harpoons fired into large, moving targets from moving platforms on a shifting sea, often under extreme weather conditions. The probability of achieving a clean strike and thus a “quick death” is extremely low, and the animals can take hours to die.

The United States must stand up to the whalers by saying NO to any deal brokered to secure a bowhead quota, NO to IWC vote-buying, and NO to a resumption of Japanese coastal whaling.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

We are working hard to stop the United States from caving in to the whalers, but we need your help. The House of Representatives recently called on the Administration to make whale conservation a priority in a letter signed by 56 members of Congress. This effort was led by Rep. Nick Rahall, chair of the House Resources Committee, and Rep. Tom Lantos, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Please contact Representatives Rahall and Lantos and thank them for their efforts and please send your own letters to the Secretaries of State and Commerce as well as your Members of Congress. Tell them that:

* The whales and the Alaskan natives are NOT pawns to be manipulated by governments to further a political agenda or to sustain an unnecessary whaling industry;

* Commercial whaling is a cruel, archaic and needless practice which has no place in the 21st Century;

* You expect leadership from the United States at the Alaskan IWC meeting and not capitulation to the whalers in order to secure a bowhead whale quota;

* The U.S. should use all of its diplomatic and legislative powers to stop the whalers and whaling NOW!

Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

The Honorable Carlos Gutierrez
Secretary of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

The Honorable (insert the name of your Senator)
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(please contact both Senators)

The Honorable (insert the name of your Representative)
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

To find your Senators and Representative, click here or call the Capitol Hill operator at (202) 224-3121 and request to be connected to their offices. For more information about whaling and other marine issues click here.

Please share our “Dear Humanitarian” eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to contact everyone listed above, too. As always, thank you very much for your help!

Sincerely,
Cathy Liss
Legislative Director

Sign up for SAPL eAlerts to receive the latest legislative news on what you can do to help us protect all animals.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) originated the Save the Whales movement of the 1970s. This year, AWI has proudly teamed up with Whaleman Foundation in the Save the Whales Again campaign.

We also encourage children and their friends to get involved by writing letters, or if they are too young, they can color copies of this picture and mail it to the secretaries and appropriate elected officials. Click here for a PDF of the picture.

Society for Animal Protective Legislation | PO Box 3719 | Washington | DC | 20027

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