On Feb. 2, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) released a proposal for allowing Japan to commercially whale off their coast. This would be the first time that Japan would be able to legally hunt whales for meat since the international moratorium on whaling went into effect in 1986. And it’s bad news for whales.
What’s particularly disappointing to me as an American is that the U.S. representative is leading the charge to allow Japan to open up whaling. William Hogarth is the Bush-appointed U.S. commissioner to the IWC, and he was the one who worked out the details of the proposal (available in a PDF here).
Essentially, the proposal would allow Japan to do “coastal whaling” of minke whales in the Sea of Japan–a population whose stock is already depleted–in exchange for a ramp-down in the number of Antarctic minke whales Japan hunts under a “scientific” exception to the moratorium. Whale lovers have long been upset that meat from these whales killed under the auspices of “science” ends up in stores across Japan, raising questions about whether research is actually being done.
Indeed, Japan killed 872 whales in 2007 under this “scientific” exception, versus 540 in 1997. And that number doesn’t include the 156 minkes killed as “bycatch.” Allowing Japan to kill more whales in different areas while slowing down the “scientific” catches simply legalizes the slaughter of more whales–setting back the work conservationists have been doing for years.
President Obama has the power to stop this plan. From a Washington Post report:
Hogarth said he is well aware that he could be replaced before the pact is finalized or be instructed to kill the deal. Obama could “decide he doesn’t want me, and I respect that,” he said. “I will make sure they are on board with the process we’re doing.”
Let’s make sure Obama knows we are not on board with the process they’re doing! Join me in signing a petition calling on President Obama to stop Hogarth’s plan to allow the slaughter of more whales.