Today, U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. William R. Keating introduced a resolution to reaffirm the United States' position both as a leader in whale conservation and as an outspoken opponent of commercial whaling.
"Now is the time to once again raise awareness of the threats facing the world's whale populations," said Rep. Berman. "Continuing the tradition of American leadership in whale conservation efforts is crucial to their survival and to fight against the slaughter of whales. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to a world without commercial whaling."
"We have come a long way in protecting the world's whale populations since the 1970's when action was first taken. But there is still far to go," said Rep. Keating. "This is not simply about protecting a species, though that is definitely a main concern. Whales play an integral role in stabilizing the oceans' complex ecosystems, and protecting them is an essential component of ocean research and conservation. As we continue to learn the various impacts these marine mammals have on our oceans, it is the role of the United States to encourage our international partners to follow our lead in these efforts."
The resolution comes at a critical moment in global conservation efforts: the International Whaling Commission (IWC) convenes in Panama next week, July 2-6, to address issues threatening whale populations and the future of the IWC. Expected to be considered is a plan, submitted by South American countries, to create a South Atlantic sanctuary, a measure which pro-whaling countries have defeated in the past.
Although a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling entered into effect over 25 years ago, countries such as Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to exploit loopholes and raise objections to the moratorium -- an issue the resolution acknowledges as a serious problem for whale conservation efforts. Over 36,000 whales have been killed since the moratorium began.