UPDATE: June 2005
In June, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), whose almost 60 member countries oversee worldwide whale conservation, will hold its annual meeting in Ulsan, South Korea. This year, as befits the complicated politics of international whaling, the eyes of the world will be riveted on the host country. That's because, as an IWC member increasingly aligned with aggressive pro-whaling nations, Korea's vote will likely be decisive in determining the long term fate of the great whales and other threatened marine mammals.
As in prior years, the debate at Ulsan will focus on whether to lift the ban on commercial whaling. This year, there is a greater than ever threat that this will occur, and Korea holds a linchpin vote. An IWC member since 1978, South Korea supported the 1982 ban on commercial whaling imposed by the IWC and officially prohibited domestic whaling. Recently, though, Korea has regularly voted with the pro-whaling countries of Japan, Iceland, and Norway to subvert the 1982 agreement.
The IWC was created by whaling countries in 1946 in response to the alarming whale population decline due to large scale commercial whaling activities. The commission was hard pressed to fulfill its mandate because whalers routinely exceeded their permissible take and inaccurately reported the numbers of whales killed. By the 1970s, 8 out of 10 species of great whales covered by the IWC treaty were commercially extinct.
Korea is uniquely positioned to make the difference by divorcing itself from such subterfuge carried out on its soil. By taking a strong stand for whales, by resisting the pressure of the whaling nations, and by defending the extant ban on commercial whaling, Korea can ensure that the future will judge Ulsan as a turning point, a moment when humanity found its right relationship to the majestic creatures of the sea.
The best outcome of this year's meeting would be the creation of an additional sanctuary in the South Atlantic, championed by Argentina and Brazil. With a change of heart at Ulsan, Korea could achieve lasting distinction as the nation which truly granted safe harbor to the whales.
In June 2000 the International Whaling Commission voted to not support the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. In 1998 over 1100 whales were killed for profit, despite the worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling.
Some species are still on the brink of extinction. By 1990 the Blue Whale numbers had been reduced from over 250,000 to just 1,000. It is time to put a stop to commercial whaling and find a permanent solution to protect whales.
To the International Whaling Commission and the United Nations Environment Commission: We, the undersigned, petition for a real - no exemption - world wide ban on commercial whaling to be achieved as soon as possible. We oppose lifting the official ban on commercial whaling and object to the killing of whales by Japan, Iceland, and Norway who take advantage of special exemptions.
The Total Ban of Commercial Whaling petition to International Whaling Commission was written by Rasta Man and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.