Why it’s time to save the whales, again

Posted by Willie — 21 June 2010 at 10:11am - Comments
Sperm whale breaching © Greenpeace/Paul Hilton

Next week, our governments will get together in Agadir, Morocco, to talk whales. It’s the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting. And this year, the main topic of conversation will be the IWC itself.

In reality, this is a testing time for the whales, and in many ways we need to make sure we save them all over again. Way back in the 80s when a moratorium, or ban, on commercial whaling was agreed, many countries had already stopped whaling. As the official catch figures show, by the time the ban came into force in 1987 commercial whaling was reduced to practically zero.

Japan's sordid vote-buying on whaling exposed

Posted by Willie — 14 June 2010 at 4:20pm - Comments

Votes to support whaling are being bought by Japan in return for aid donations

So, what's your price to sell out the whales?

Some brown envelopes stuffed with cash? A nice big cheque for development aid? All-expenses paid trips to exotic locations? Or some dubious entertainment, including 'good girls'?

Welcome, dear friends, to the world of international diplomacy, Japanese government style. Yesterday, in a shocking expose, the Sunday Times showed the tawdry reality of Japan's vote-buying tactics to undermine the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Using undercover reporters, they managed to elicit scandalous accounts of just what the government of Japan offers to get the support of developing nations in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa.

Whaling: whose side are EU on?

Posted by Willie — 4 June 2010 at 2:15pm - Comments

By seeking to compromise, the EU may actually be sanctioning commercial whaling. Whale fail!

Ask anyone who the bad guys are on fish and whales. The resounding answer will most probably start with the letter 'J' and end in 'apan'.

And with good reason. Not only is the Japanese government's recent record on (and defence of) commercial whaling scandalous, but as huge consumers of seafood Japan plays a major role in driving the fishing industry worldwide. Like many developed nations, Japan has long since outgrown its ability to depend on local fish in its own waters, so it also has a distant-water fleet scooping up seafood around the globe.

Whaling: an indecent proposal

Posted by Willie — 25 April 2010 at 9:59am - Comments

If you’ve seen the media reports on whales over the past couple of weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that there had been some sort of historical deal done. A deal that seems to be being spun as a way to save whales, by allowing some to be hunted. Media spin aside, we’ve been keen to see the detail of what is going to be on the table for our governments at the upcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in June.

Yesterday, at last, the speculation ended when the IWC published the details of a proposal on their website. The proposal is just that, a proposal. Not a deal, and certainly not a done deal. So please, view the over-effusive headlines with some care.

Saving whales and saving money

Posted by Willie — 13 November 2009 at 11:47am - Comments

V for victory? A blue whale anticipates major cuts in Japan's whaling programme.

Many times during this conference I've heard bluefin tuna likened to blue whales - a comparison which has already been expressed eloquently by Charles Clover.

There are several stunning similarities -  they are both the biggest of their kind, hydrodynamic giants, amazingly adapted for life in the ocean. Most alarmingly though, both have been driven to the brink of extinction by overexploitation by a species remarkably ill-adapted for life in the ocean: humans.

Looks are everything

Posted by Willie — 25 June 2009 at 1:55pm - Comments

The Great White shark: more threatened than threatening © CC  hermanusbackpackers

A couple of stories in the press today caught my eye. Both are about what we internally refer to as 'charismatic megafauna' (the big animals people tend to be interested in and care about), but they are also both damning indictments of our failure to protect our oceans and the life that depends on them.

Firstly – in the week of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Madeira, Portugal – whilst lots of countries get together to talk lots and try not to upset each other too much,  the BBC reports that a highly-endangered species of porpoise is being pushed ever closer to extinction.

IWC 2009 - whale conservation bloc not playing its hand

Posted by jossc — 24 June 2009 at 2:02pm - Comments

Sara Holden, our International whales campaign coordinator, blogs from the 61st International Whaling Conference in Madeira, Portugal. Even though for the first time in years the anti-whaling nations have a decent majority on the IWC, genuine protection for whales still remains low on the agenda.

As metaphors go, how about this? The IWC meeting is being held in a casino - and anyone betting on a good outcome for the whales would be unlikely to win. Equally aprt, just a few minutes before the opening of the 61st International Whaling Commission meeting, a large rat was seen scuttling through the hotel and out the door. Not a bad illustration of what's going on here.

Whaling? Not with our taxes!

Posted by jossc — 9 March 2009 at 4:13pm - Comments

Not With Our Taxes! from Greenpeace on Vimeo

Despite the worst recession in a generation, Japanese government officials arrived at the intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Rome this week still determined to defend a multi-billion yen whaling programme that is reviled by the international community and unwanted by taxpayers at home.

Dodgy deals on whaling?

Posted by Willie — 6 February 2009 at 5:24pm - Comments

Japanese whalers at work in the Southern Ocean Whale Sactuary

Japanese whalers at work in the Southern Ocean Whale Sactuary

There have been a number of confusing reports recently about whaling, so I thought it was only right to try and make sense of some of them for you.

Since the last International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Chile, there have been inter-sessional international meetings to try and agree a way forward for the IWC, and break the impasse of recent years. Conservationists fear that the truth is pro-whalers are not willing to compromise, and are seeking acceptance of commercial whaling, which is still conducted despite an international ban on the practice. To make matters worse, commercial whaling, under the guise of 'scientific research' is conducted by the Government of Japan in the Southern Ocean, a globally-recognised whale sanctuary, every year.

Whales: a little less conversation, a little more action?

Posted by Willie — 9 December 2008 at 4:10pm - Comments

Dead whale being transferred from bow to midships of whaling ship

While the IWC talks, the whalers are on their way back to the Southern Ocean © Greenpeace / Davison

This week, the International Whaling Commission is having an intersessional meeting in Cambridge to discuss its future. Whilst it's good news that these meetings are taking place (Greenpeace has been pushing for reform of the IWC into a body that works for the whales for many years), you have to ask yourself how much of this is just bluster.

At the same time as the international delegations are meeting, the Japanese whaling fleet is on its way to the Southern Ocean to kill whales for a bogus 'scientific' programme that is not endorsed by the IWC, and will take place in an area the IWC has designated a whale sanctuary. Despite measures to avoid confrontation at the last proper IWC meeting (which basically meant the pro-conservation countries not raising any issues that would be contentious with Japan and its allies), there has been no compromise from the whaling nations. Japan has not even officially reduced its own self-appointed quota.

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