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Sad day for the IWC – WWF

Media release 19 June 2006

Sad day for the IWC – WWF

Japan has finally succeeded in bringing pro-whaling and anti-conservation countries into the International Whaling Commission (IWC) with a majority vote to back a statement saying the whaling ban is no longer valid.

The vote is a non-legally binding statement which asks for a ‘normalisation’ of the IWC. According to Japan and its supporters, this means it should return to its original 1946 mandate to regulate whaling, rather than concentrate on conservation issues. The group is also using scientifically invalid facts such as the claim that whale populations are responsible for the decline in the world’s fisheries.

“Instead of building consensus on difficult issues, this declaration has brought both sides to the brink of open conflict,” says Chris Howe, WWF-New Zealand Conservation Director, who is part of the WWF delegation at IWC.

WWF says it is a shallow political victory for the whaling countries and their allies—and hopes this will be a wake up call to conservation-minded countries and peoples of the world.

“When whales and other marine species are under pressure by a range of threats – including climate change, bycatch, ship strikes – it is sad to see IWC move backwards.

There is no guarantee that other critical votes will be lost. The moratorium on whaling will stay in place as it needs a three quarter majority to be overturned.

However, it shows that the IWC is poised on a knife edge between conserving whales and dolphins and becoming a ‘whalers’ club’,” added Mr Howe.


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