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IFAW: Calls for tighter controls to protect whales ahead of international meeting in Jersey

Calls for tighter controls to protect whales ahead of international meeting in Jersey

(London – 9 July 2011) – IFAW is calling for changes to the way the International Whaling Commission (IWC) operates to provide increased protection for whales, ahead of the start of the IWC’s meeting in Jersey next week.

Following widely reported accusations of corruption surrounding the meetings in recent years, IFAW is calling for greater openness and accountability at IWC to ensure it runs effectively and that the credibility of the forum is safeguarded.

The UK Government has also put forward proposals for this year’s meeting (July 11-14) aimed at improving the transparency and effectiveness of the IWC.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We believe the UK Government’s proposal would help modernise and reform the IWC and bring its procedures in line with other similar organisations. IFAW urges representatives of the 89 member governments of the IWC to do all they can to ensure the proposals are adopted and that the IWC is turned into a genuine conservation body for whales.

 “IFAW believes it is unacceptable that whales are still being cruelly harpooned for commercial reasons. Delegates have an opportunity to make positive and lasting change for whales when they meet in Jersey over the next few days and we hope this opportunity will not be missed.”

IFAW’s unique whale research vessel set sail from London on Thursday (7) in a symbolic journey to Jersey to take an anti-whaling message to this year’s IWC meeting.

The state-of-the-art Song of the Whale (SOTW), which uses non-harmful methods to study whales, left St Katharine Docks carrying IFAW’s team of whale experts to the 63rd annual meeting to urge delegates to protect the ban on commercial whaling and remind them that it is not necessary to kill whales to study them.

Before leaving port, SOTW was the focal point for an IFAW hosted event for UK politicians who were invited to tour the boat and hear IFAW’s message of whale protection. Richard Benyon MP, UK Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, also spoke at the event.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary. There is no humane way to kill a whale and with little appetite for whale meat these days, meat from slaughtered whales frequently lies unused in frozen storage.

Actor John Nettles is backing IFAW’s work to protect whales at the IWC. The stage and screen star, known to millions as DCI Tom Barnaby in ITV’s long-running
Midsomer Murders, which he starred in until earlier this year, also has a long association with Jersey, which was the location for BBC’s Bergerac, another hit series in which he played a detective.

He said: “I’m proud to support IFAW’s campaign to protect whales. It is vital that the International Whaling Commission meeting in Jersey adopts the strongest possible level of protection for whales across the world.”

IFAW (www.ifaw.org) works around the globe to protect whales from the many threats they face including commercial whaling, man-made ocean noise, pollution, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris and climate change. It promotes responsible whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative to the cruelty of whaling.


For more information or to arrange interviews with IFAW’s IWC team in Jersey throughout the meeting please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on mobile 07917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Notes to Editors –

In 1982, the IWC voted to establish an indefinite worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling. The moratorium came into effect with the 1985-86 Antarctic and 1986 Northern Hemisphere seasons.

Japan initially lodged a formal objection to the moratorium decision, which it later dropped, but continued whaling without interruption by abusing a loophole in the IWC Convention which permits ‘scientific research’. IFAW believes this is sham science, and that so-called scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name. Under pressure from many fronts, Japan called an early halt to its whaling activities in Antarctica earlier this year (February 2011), heading back to port early from the Southern Ocean Sanctuary having taken less than half of its projected quota of around 1,000 whales.

Norway has maintained its objection, and continues to conduct commercial whaling in the North Atlantic. There is a shrinking domestic market for whale meat and in recent years Norway has normally caught 400-500 whales (which is around half its self-allocated catch limit).

Initially, Iceland did not object to the moratorium, but hunted whales for ‘science’ until 1989. In 1992, Iceland left the IWC, but rejoined in 2002 with a retroactive reservation to the moratorium. Iceland resumed whaling in 2003 for ‘scientific research’ and resumed commercial whaling in 2006, although polling has revealed only around 5% of Icelanders claim to eat whale meat regularly (Gallup, 2010). In 2011, Iceland continues to hunt minke whales but this season’s fin whaling is currently on hold with whaling station employees laid off due to lack of market for the meat.

About Song of the Whale (SOTW) - SOTW uses hydrophones and photo identification methods to carry out research on whales and other cetaceans in a way that neither harms nor disturbs them. SOTW is managed and operated by Marine Conservation Research Limited (MCR) on behalf of IFAW. In recent years SOTW has carried out a variety of projects, including collaborating with governments in Mediterranean states on studies of sperm whale distribution and abundance. To find out more on SOTW’s work or enquire about chartering the vessel for a project, research survey or expedition visit www.marineconservationresearch.co.uk

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