Save the Whale
Impact September 2008 Editorial

The Tory leader David Cameron is committed to have a vote in Parliament to bring back “Hunting with Dogs”. It is therefore important that we publicise this as widely as possible.

We are launching a petition to bring to the attention of the British Public the Tory stance on bringing back “Hunting with Dogs”.

I have enclosed a petition form with this copy of Impact and I urge you to help us collect as many signatures as possible. If you require more forms then please get in touch.

An Ipsos MORI poll, released earlier this year by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA, showed that 73% do not want fox hunting to be made legal again. Eight in ten, 81%, were opposed to bringing back deer hunting, and 82% were opposed to changing the law to allow hare hunting or coursing.

It is good news that the European Commission has at last introduced a draft proposal to ban the import of and trade in seal products throughout the European Union. The seal campaign has been a priority for both LAWS and Respect for Animals and so this was welcome news. We must ensure that the ban will become watertight.

In July this year, the Labour Party National Policy Forum made commitments to a range of new animal welfare policies. This included a commitment to end all whaling; enforcement of the hunting act; and continuing the search for alternatives to the use of animals in laboratories. In addition to this, the NPF voted to label all real fur garments. If these policies are endorsed by the Labour Party at national conference in September they will become part of the party’s manifesto for the next election. It is important that your Constituency Delegate to Labour Party Conference supports these proposals.

Wally Burley, Editor & Chair
Labour Animal Welfare Society

PS The headline comes from a leaflet used by the Labour Party in 1999 Eddisbury By-election.
Andy Ottaway, Campaign Whale

When Japan announced last year that they intended to expand their spurious Antarctic ‘scientific’ whale hunt to include 50 humpback and 50 fin whales, in addition to the 935 minke whales already targeted, it provoked a political storm. It would represent the single biggest whale slaughter since commercial whaling was banned some 22 years ago.

Recently the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has remained deadlocked over the development of a Revised Management Scheme (RMS), essentially a set of rules that will govern any future resumption of commercial whaling. Many governments believe that the RMS must be as robust as many other contemporary fisheries management regimes, with tough monitoring and enforcement provisions to ensure the strictest adherence to quotas, and with tough penalties for non-compliance.

The whalers, on the other hand, make no concessions to the anti-whaling lobby, content perhaps to continue to exploit the loopholes in the Whaling Convention, such as killing whales for ‘research’, that have allowed them to conduct virtually unrestricted ‘business as usual’ during the whaling ban. Clearly, they see little reason to agree to any RMS that would seriously restrict their activities, and profits.

Over the years, the deadlock over the RMS has provoked several attempts to broker some kind of compromise deal that would lift the whaling ban, justified by the argument that the IWC must regain control over whaling. As the whalers have never respected IWC decisions, including the existing moratorium on commercial whaling, there is no justification for a compromise that is more about saving the IWC, than the whales.

The Japanese have made it perfectly clear that their decision to hold fire on the humpbacks depends on ‘satisfactory’ progress being made in these talks.

Having failed to agree a RMS, essential to any agreement on a resumption of commercial whaling, the Commission has found itself in crisis. The whaling nations: Japan, Iceland and Norway are killing escalating numbers of whales each year by exploiting legal loopholes in the Convention, despite the ongoing moratorium on commercial hunting.

In what appears to be a desperate attempt to regain some credibility the IWC invited a team of expert international negotiators to try and establish a process through which the Commission might resolve its seemingly intractable problems. With little progress made in London much, not least the fate of 50 humpback whales, was resting on the outcome of the IWC’s 60th annual meeting held in Santiago in June.

As it turned out, this meeting was carefully orchestrated by the US Chair of the Commission to try and avoid any controversy and so smooth the path to a peace deal. Indeed, the meeting passed off as one of the quietest in years and, apart from refusing to sanction a completely unjustified quota of 10 humpbacks each year for Greenlandic hunters, much to Denmark’s anger, no contentious votes were taken, or resolutions passed.

What is becoming clear is that many countries want to see an end to Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling because it is this loophole that would prevent any future management plan from working, simply because countries could ‘top up’ smaller quotas with whales killed for so-called ‘research’. A potential deal is emerging which would not even achieve that. It is based on the idea of giving Japan a coastal whaling quota in return for some agreed limit placed on so-called ‘scientific’ whaling catches. Another proposed trade-off would make the entire southern hemisphere a whale sanctuary.

However, this would expose some of the most threatened whale populations in the northern hemisphere to renewed whaling. It would not address the inherent cruelty of whaling either, and perhaps worst of all it would effectively reward the whaling nations for defying the Commission for all these years.

What is deeply worrying about all this is the amount of political support there seems to be for a compromise deal on whaling in the first place. With the delegates in Chile identifying no less than 33 issues that they consider an integral part of any final agreement, ranging from animal welfare issues to whale-watching, it seems that both sides of the whaling dispute are as far apart as ever.
In Santiago, a coalition of campaign groups called on the IWC to refocus its efforts away from the mass slaughter of whales to a future devoted to the protection of all whales and their environment.

It is vital that governments work together if we are to stem the tide of extinction. Sadly, while IWC Members argue over the rights and wrongs of killing these magnificent animals, hundreds of thousands of the world’s smallest whales, dolphins and porpoises are being ruthlessly hunted, or trapped in fishing nets, with many populations, even entire species, being driven to extinction. These so-called ‘small’ cetaceans receive no protection at all. Tragically last year the first whale species, the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin, was declared functionally extinct. The vaquita, a tiny porpoise only found in the Gulf of California, is critically endangered, but is still dying in fishermen’s nets and may soon follow the baiji into oblivion. Yet IWC Member States have become so embittered and divided over whaling that they cannot even agree to work together to save some of the most endangered species of whales from extinction.

Shockingly, the Japanese Government is so desperate to expand the whale meat market throughout the country, that even though the meat from the dolphin and porpoise hunts is heavily contaminated with toxic pollutants, it is being promoted to be regularly included in school lunches.

A further 16,875 Dall’s porpoises have been targeted by Japanese fishermen for slaughter this year.

Our Government must do more to help persuade Japan to stop this appalling slaughter, and potential public health disaster, before it is too late.

Let’s save the whales and not whaling!

For further information and campaign donations please visit Campaign Whale.