Right now President Obama is poised to support a proposal that will allow commercial whaling. Such whaling has been prohibited for decades, and this would be an unacceptable setback for ocean conservation.
Beginning June 21, 2010, the International Whaling Commission will meet to consider a proposal to allowing whale harvests by certain countries. This would lift a moratorium on commercial whaling that has protected whales since 1986. The United States is currently developing its negotiating position and will decide whether to support the proposal. So far, it has made statements supporting the proposal.
President Obama told Americans on the campaign trail that “allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.” Japan currently hunts whales and illegally sells their meat under the guise of scientific research. DNA testing has made it possible to identify Japanese-caught whale meat in restaurants as remote from Japan as Los Angeles. Now the U.S. government is considering rewarding Japan’s killing of thousands of whales instead of opposing Japanese whaling.
The commission’s proposal to sanction killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in Antarctica and in the North Pacific is not the only threat to these magnificent creatures. Bycatch, pollution, rise in ocean noise, offshore energy development, and climate change all threaten their lives. As icebergs melt, plankton, the main source of food for whales, lose their protected breeding grounds under the ice shelf. Plankton blooms may also be occurring earlier, making food unavailable when the whales arrive at their feeding grounds. Increasing atmospheric carbon levels are making the seas more acidic and making it difficult for crustaceans, another food source for whales, to form their calcium-based shells. With so many emerging threats, this is a disastrous time to resume commercial whaling.
Your comments to President Obama and Ms. Medina are necessary to protect whales for future generations. Conservation of whales helps keep our world alive, gives us hope and courage, and keeps us in wonder of the beauty of the world. Please act now to show your support for the moratorium on commercial whaling and demand international compliance with its intent.