IWC 64 Press Release

US Threatens To Blow Hole In Whaling Ban

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA July 2, 2012 – At the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama City, Panama, the issue of aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) appears to be the vehicle to end the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. The US will stop at nothing to fulfill their agenda, including supporting non-aboriginal whaling and admitted commercial whaling under the pretext of ASW.

Shockingly, this year, the US is actively supporting the killing of humpback whales by the notorious, non-aboriginal, whale mother-calf-killing St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) by "bundling" the SVG request with the US and Russian Federation ASW request. This practice of "bundling" quotas stems back to 1997. Subsequently it became common practice for the US to obtain a quota for gray whales for the Makah Tribe through a joint request with the Russian Federation. The US takes great pains to ensure that the IWC will not reach a definitive ruling whether the Makah Tribe qualifies for the subsistence exception to the whaling moratorium. Instead, for the precise purpose of avoiding such a ruling, the US submits a joint quota proposal with the Russian Federation and is using that quota request to shield the deficient U.S. proposal for the Makah.

On the NOAA IWC website it states: "NOAA works to promote U.S. positions at the IWC, including the rights and needs of aboriginal subsistence whalers and cetacean conservation activities." Why does the US claim to support only aboriginal subsistence whaling when they are clearly supporting not only the non-aboriginal request from SVG, but the request from Greenland which is overtly commercial in nature?

The answer to this question is simple. The US has made a deal with Japan to ensure the US obtains their "aboriginal" quotas for bowhead and gray whales. Japan has made requests to the IWC for years for approval for their "small-type-coastal-whaling" (STCW) in Japanese waters. Those requests have been repeatedly denied by the IWC membership. In 2002, the Japanese delegation, along with countries associated with their vote-buying policy, blocked the US request for a quota of bowhead whales for Alaskan Inuit. This was a first at the IWC. It was also a big political move by Japan. They, in effect, held the much-revered US bowhead quota hostage to gain approval for their STCW program. Months later, and after extensive behind-the-scenes high level diplomatic bargaining, Japan agreed to allow the US to have their bowhead quota. In return, the US needed to give something back to Japan, which has led to the corruption of the true intent of ASW.

The Japanese and other whaling countries need other US-approved examples of STCW, namely the Greenland, SVG, and the Makah proposals that should never have been approved or allowed to continue. If these US led proposals are approved, Japan has a stronger case for their STCW approval, which destroys the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

So what does that mean for the whales this year at the IWC? Once again, politics, not conservation, is the determining factor. If SVG doesn't get a quota, Japan will block the quotas requested by the US. The US has "bundled" their requests with SVG, fully aware that this is not an aboriginal hunt. The US/Russian Federation/SVG "bundle" would become a devastating precedent able to open the gate to create a new commercial whaling category.

Adding salt to this wound, the US has come out in full support of Greenland and their request to kill minke, fin, humpback, and bowhead whales, despite the admitted commercial nature of the hunt. Greenland sells whale meat in restaurants to tourists and in supermarkets, but according to the US Government, "Greenland's use of whale products is consistent with aboriginal subsistence whaling" (Acting Chair of US Delegation during Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Sub-committee meeting, June 27, 2012).

It appears the US will roll around in the muck with the worlds' most notorious whale killers just to fulfill their own domestic agenda, which has been approved at the highest levels of the Obama Administration. Public opinion be damned, whales be damned. How can the U.S. government defend its position as a whale-killing nation?

Media Inquires

Tami Drake

Will Anderson

Toni Frohoff, Ph.D.


Comments are closed.