20-year whaling moratorium on the chopping block

You wouldn’t know it from the headline of this week’s NYT article (“US Leads New Bid to Phase Out Whale Hunting,”) but the worldwide commercial-whaling moratorium that has been in place since 1986 is under seige.  Countries are meeting this week to work out details of a deal in which the world’s three leading whaling nations, Iceland, Norway, and Japan, would for the first time win the blessing of the International Whaling Commision, the whaling world’s governing body and keeper of the moratorium, to continue to hunt for whales through at least 2020.

A draft version of the deal under consideration, released in March, is available here.  Marine conservationists and IWC hounds Mark Simmonds and Sue Fisher have a good op-ed here that characterizes the deal this way, in contrast to the NYT piece:

At the core of the proposal is a 10-year suspension of the moratorium. This would legitimise Japan, Norway and Iceland’s whaling, allowing them to carry on hunting whales commercially without recourse to special permits or objections. Negotiations are now under way to set quotas for the species that will be commercially hunted: humpback, sperm, minke, sei, fin and Bryde’s whales.

In exchange for legitimizing this hunting, the US hopes to get reductions in the total number of whales killed over the 2010-2020 timeline, as well as some procedural safeguards to prevent international trading in whale meat.  But nothing in the deal, as far as I can see, leads to a complete “phase out” of whaling beyond 2020, as the NYT suggests — or any reductions at all after the 10-year deal expires.

One more dig at the NYT reporting: check out this refutation by Australia, a stalwart of the anti-whaling countries at IWC, of the paper’s report of its support of the deal.

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “20-year whaling moratorium on the chopping block”

  1. I understand that politics and business are important to the world….but are the leaders this blind and stupid that they would even consider lifting the moratorium? There is no scientific purpose for the killing of whales. Therefore…there is no reason reasonable enough to justify anyone taking the life of a whale. I thought we were intelligent enough to understand the effects of disrupting the food chain. The world continually shows me we haven’t reached a level of understanding that most 3rd graders do. I was hoping Obama was different. It’s not too late…CALL THE WHITE HOUSE. Call your congressman or representative. DO SOMETHING NOW.

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About Cara

Cara Horowitz is the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. The Emmett Institute was founded as the f…

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