My body is not made for running; it is painful, embarrassing and not a pretty site, therefore I miss out on a lot of fund raising opportunities. But on the flip side my body is made for swimming or walking and in the past I have participated in the Marie Curie Swimathon (and hope to again) and this year I am raising funds for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Walk for Whales sponsored 5 mile walk around Loch Lochmond to help stop commercial whaling on July 8th 2012.
Most of us will never see a whale in our life time but that doesn't mean we want them to disappear from our oceans. Whales are incredible and graceful creatures and whaling is threatening their existence, despite the fact that both commercial whaling and international trade in whale products are currently banned. However, Japan, Norway and Iceland, together kill over 1600 whales each year and are expanding their international trade in whale products.
In 2010, a number of governments represented at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) supported a proposal that would have lifted the ban on commercial whaling by granting Japan legal commercial whaling quotas in its coastal waters in return for voluntarily reducing its controversial ‘scientific’ whaling in Antarctica.
If adopted, this deal would have opened the floodgates for other countries to restart or expand their own whaling. WDCS called for the rejection of the deal as unworkable, unenforceable and dangerous for the conservation of whales. Thankfully, there was not enough support for the proposal and it was not put to a vote....for now.
The long and infamous history of commercial whaling has demonstrated that it is impossible to ensure that hunts are properly regulated, sustainable and humane. Even after 60 years of research, restrictions by the IWC and huge public interest, there remains:
- no humane way to kill a whale at sea
- no mechanism (that the whaling nations are willing to accept) to ensure compliance with effective regulations
- no scientific certainty about the ability of whale populations to withstand hunting in the face of growing environmental threats including climate change.
Whales are similar to humans in that, like us, they have culture, rituals, traditions, strong family bonds, a sense of self and the ability to suffer unimaginable pain at the end of a harpoon. The hunting process can never be an exact exercise - whales are a moving target, shot at on a moving vessel which sits on a moving sea. Grenade harpoons are often used to kill whales forcing them to be subjected to a long, slow and painful death.
Norway, Iceland and Japan are not the only countries voting in favour of whaling at the IWC. For years, Japan has been recruiting countries with no obvious interest in whaling to join the IWC and vote in its favour, using development aid as an incentive. In addition, many countries that were once firmly opposed to commercial whaling have felt pressured by Japan’s ever expanding whale hunts to make a compromise that will be dangerous for whale conservation.
Worst of all the whaling industry is currently uneconomical without substantial government subsidies. The market for the meat is not big enough at the moment so much of the meat is stored. As demand for meat is falling, a lot of it is frozen and stockpiled. International trade in meat is currently illegal but only recently there have been examples of whale meat turning up in restaurants in South Korea and the US. Remember, it is not just the reduction of whale meat that is important here. It is also about stopping whale product use in cosmetics and health supplements, and whale meal feed. The WDCS already suspect that pigs may have been fed whale meal in Denmark.
Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to work hard to overturn the whaling ban at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Walk for Whales will allow WDCS to:
- Attend meetings of the IWC.
- Build relationships with governments whose votes we need to influence.
- Continue to lead international groups to stop a resumption of trade in whale products.
- Run protest campaigns in and against countries that conduct or support commercial whaling.
- Investigate the use of whale meat and other products, the wastage, and the subsidies that sustain a declining industry.
- Work towards a permanent end to commercial whaling.
For more information about the WDCS please CLICK HERE
For more information on whaling and the WDCS' Stop Whaling Campaign please CLICK HERE.
For more information and to sign up to Walk for Whales please CLICK HERE
If you're feeling generous and would like to sponsor me on my walk then please visit my Just-Giving site by CLICKING HERE.
Thank you and please spread the word.