Friday, March 5, 2010

Decision on Fate of Whales Postponed

March 3, 2010. St Peter Beach, Florida

By Hardy Jones

The intercessional meeting of International Whaling Commission (IWC) assembled to hammer out a consensus on how the organization would move forward has ended with no action taken.

Meeting in St. Pete Beach, Florida from March 2 - 5 the so-called Small Working Group addressed the question of how to create a framework and set of regulations and quotas that would satisfy both whale protectionists and whale hunting interests. Of course at the ethical level no such compromise is possible.

Whales are simply not products. They are not creatures to be “harvested” as so many of the whaling delegates describe the process of taking their lives. No one planted these magnificent animals. No one invested resources to grow them. Their taking involves using a small canon to drive an explosive harpoon into their bodies that detonates instants after contact and leads to agonizing death.

The second item to be negotiated was whether to grant a quota of at least fifty humpback whales to Greenland. Many excellent pro-whale organizations argued that there is not enough information available to determine whether humpbacks can be hunted in a sustainable manner. To me this may be a tactic that is appropriate in the confines of the commission meetings but these facts do not represent the real reason we should not kill whales.

We should not kill whales because of who and what they are; highly intelligent and magnificent animals beloved of millions of people. In the cases of humpback and fin whales they are endangered species. We have wiped out more than 90 percent of many whale populations.

Even the factual, rational and highly regarded New York Times published an editorial opinion that no whale should be killed for any reason.

Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico spoke strongly of a need to phase out whaling entirely in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. The United States offerings were weak-kneed. Head of delegation, Monica Medina, was at odds with the expert members of her own delegation and spoke platitudes and pleasantries that did not present a cogent American position.

The meeting in St. Pete did not attract a quorum so no decisions could be taken. That is a blessing as it will allow BlueVoice and likeminded organizations to present forcefully to President Obama the argument that no whales should be killed and that he should demand of his delegation that they not push for consensus on issues for which no consensus can or should be reached. Whales are not for killing.

1 comment:

Jeff Friedman said...

Hardy, thanks for being at the meeting and for your efforts to try and talk some sense to the US delegation. I'm disappointed at Obama's lack of leadership on this issue. I've sent e-mails to the WhiteHouse and to the IWC. I hope others will do the same.