Endangered Whale Massacre on the Horizon?

Here is some very surprising and disappointing news. The Chair of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) announced a proposal this week that would endorse the killing of whales, including some endangered species. The proposal would also allow the killing of whales in their number one feeding ground — the Southern Ocean.

This would reverse a decision made 25 years ago to put a moratorium on whaling.

Image Credit: Richard.Fisher The International Whaling Commission may lift a 25-year ban on whaling this summer.

The International Whaling Commission may lift a 24-year ban on whaling this summer.

The IWC put a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Iceland and Norway hold legal objections to the moratorium and Japan has avoided it through a certain loophole — whales can be killed for scientific purposes.

The Chair of the IWC is now attempting to address these issue by giving these countries a 10-year commercial whaling quota.

One of the main issues WWF is bringing up is that these quotas are being set based on political negotiations, not scientific methods.

Wendy Elliott, Species Program manager for WWF-International, has said that “commercial whaling based on politics not science would be a step backwards for IWC.”

Approval to Slaughter Sitting Ducks (Whales) in the Southern Ocean

In 1994, the IWC put an absolute ban on whaling in the Southern Ocean due to it being the main feeding ground for numerous whale species, including blue whales, humpback whales and fin whales.

“The Southern Ocean is the whale equivalent of a restaurant or supermarket. Some whales feed exclusively in the Southern Ocean not eating at all during the winter months when they travel up to tropical waters.”

This change in policy could result in a catastrophe for some whale species (as well as the extremely vulnerable individual whales themselves).

Approval to Kill Endangered Species

This proposal really goes beyond common sense again in that it allows the killing of two species of whales on the widely recognized list of endangered species compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Both fin whales and sei whales are endangered species, yet this proposal would allow the commercial killing of 65 fin whales in the Southern Ocean and 500 Sei whales in the North Pacific over a ten year period. Both fin and sei whale species were depleted to severely low levels by previous whaling that spun out of control, and remain endangered as a result. Allowing new commercial whaling on these species when they have yet to recover from previous whaling is management madness.

Approximately 42,000 sei whales lived in the North Pacific in the late 20th century before that number was quickly reduced to 8,600.

Approximately 725,000 fin whales were killed in the Southern Hemisphere in the 20th century. Now, the total population of these whales is expected to be 15,178.

At its next annual meeting in Agadair, Morocco from June 21-25, the IWC will decide whether or not to approve this proposal. You can help to keep this from happening through a petition to Obama via Change.org and through a petition via Avaaz.org. Take action today to help save these whales.