21 Nations Block Effort to Create Giant Whale Sanctuary


Written by Brian Merchant

Today, in the enlightened, internetted 21st century, whaling should be the simplest goddam conservation issue out there. We’ve killed too many of them, they’re endangered, and people love them. Ipso facto, we shouldn’t kill them anymore. Right? There’s the public support, the scientific urgings, and the financial incentives—whale-watching is a big booming industry. Plus, nobody really likes whale meat anyway, and nobody uses whale oil anymore.

So let’s just stop harpooning the lovable blubbery bastards, right? Open and shut? Nope. Of course not. Yet another effort to protect whales has crashed and burned at the International Whaling Commission meeting; a proposal was made to turn the Southern Atlantic into a giant whaling sanctuary. Nations like Brazil and Argentina, both of which have thriving whale-watching industries, were totally behind it. So were more than 35 other countries.

Unfortunately, 21 nations weren’t, and voted not to protect whales. The BBC reports:

Latin American countries argued that declaring a sanctuary would help whale conservation and whale-watching. The bid gained more than half of the votes but fell short of the three-quarters majority needed to pass …

The proposal covered almost the entire Atlantic Ocean south of the Equator, from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of South America. It would have joined up with the two existing whale sanctuaries approved by the IWC, in the Southern and Indian Oceans.

This stuff is frustrating in a radically different way than something like climate change is; a major, multifaceted plight that seeps into every aspect of our daily lives. Nothing is more infuriating than world leaders’ continued inaction on climate change, but the enormity of the problem at least makes the chaos understandable. If we can’t rally to protect effing endangered whales (while of course respectfully preserving the right of limited catch for indigenous populations who subsist on them) then there’s little hope, frankly, that we can protect much of anything at all.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Photo: Nolleos/flickr


Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

terrible, I've been on Whale Watches on the East and West Coasts---it's fabulous to see these giant and fascinating creatures.

robin d.
robin d.3 years ago

WE probably send money to the bastards so they won't name the nations how freaking sad is that.

Natasha Salgado
natasha salgado3 years ago

Who are these pathetic callous 21 Nations???

LMj Sunshine

What 21 Nations??

LMj Sunshine

What 21 Nations??

LMj Sunshine

What 21 Nations??

LMj Sunshine

What 21 Nations??

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Barbara M.
Barbara McMillan4 years ago

Sad and disappointing just doesn't cut it for me, more like arrogant, aggressive, selfish, cruel, mindless, moronic butchers.
I agree most of it is probably down to Japan, and if they do eat whale meat (which I doubt) they should use the stockpiles before killing any more, and hopefully a lot of them would soon be very ill.
Clearly, we can't appeal to their human nature ! and we can't all sail with SeaShepherd.
Boycotting their goods/products and tourism is an option anyone can take, but there would need to be many thousands, millions, involved for it to become apparent in their trade figures, and how many more whales have to die tragically before then.
I do feel sad for small countries whose votes have been bought, they are guilty of 'making a fast buck' without any work involved, instead of an honest living, which they would actually appreciate a whole lot more, but they are blinkered by the big bucks.
I sincerely hope 'indigenous nations' do NOT subsist on the whale meat, or they too will become as extinct as the whales. I hope they know this.

Joanna K.
Joanna King4 years ago

Name and shame the 21 countries that voted against this, especially as some of them are landlocked and should have little say about marine sanctuaries at all. This is the 21st century and humans are still killing whales. This shows what kind of people are running the world - obviously the wrong ones. Surely there is some kind of petition to show these people what the majority of the world thinks. Whaling has no place in the 21st Century!