The 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ended a day early last night in Madeira, Portugal with no agreement on the future of the IWC and no end to whaling.
"The IWC meeting has ended, but the body count continues. The ban on whaling is protected for another year, however almost 2,000 whales will be killed by Japan, Norway and Iceland before the IWC meets again in one year's time," said Darren Kindleysides, Director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
The Government of Japan continues to bypass the ban by hunting whales under the pretext of science, whilst Norway and Iceland simply ignore the moratorium, hunting whales commercially under a 'reservation' to the global ban introduced in 1986.
The very future of the IWC itself was the main agenda item at this week's meeting. However, agreement could not be reached on a single important issue before the Commission. Decisions about the future of the IWC were postponed for a year, with agreement only to hold further talks.
"The IWC was established 61 years ago as a whalers' club but the urgently needed modernisation has not been delivered this week. Threats to whales are accelerating. The IWC needs to keep pace. Whales need more conservation not more conversation," continued Kindleysides.
In addition to hunting, whales face a growing intensity of threats from climate change, pollution, ship strikes, entanglement in nets and ocean noise.
The Australian Government proved to be one of the few countries prepared to suggest a future for the IWC based on protecting whales not commercial whaling.
"The Australian Government fought the good fight at this year's meeting. However, when the dust settles, it will be business as usual for the whalers. Japan still intends to send its whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean at the end of the year. Fifty humpback whales - the mainstay of a multi-million dollar whale watching industry in Australia - remain on their hit list. If the IWC cannot defend our whales, the Government must step in and turn to the international courts to stop the whalers once and for all," concluded Kindleysides.
Darren Kindleysides, AMCS Director mobile: 0422 396 077. Landline (07) 3393 5811
1. The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is Australia's only national charity dedicated exclusively to protecting life in the sea. We work to create marine national parks, save our endangered ocean wildlife and make our fisheries sustainable. We are the voice for our seas.
2. AMCS started in the 1960s to legally contest and successfully defeat an application to mine coral on the Great Barrier Reef. AMCS then spear-headed the campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef in a Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is now an international tourist destination and one of the natural wonders of the world.
3. Australia's much loved author and four times Miles Franklin Literary Award recipient, Tim Winton is AMCS Patron. Other high profile supporters include Powderfinger lead singer Bernard Fanning, ex Olympian NBA basketballer Luc Longley and executive chef Guy Grossi from Grossi Florentino restaurant in Melbourne.
4. AMCS has over 18,000 supporters throughout Australia and abroad.
5. As part of our work to make our fisheries sustainable, AMCS produced Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide, Australia's only independent national guide to choosing our seafood wisely. The consumer guide to avoiding unsustainable or overfished species can be ordered online at www.marineconservation.org.au