PRO-WHALING nations including Japan, Iceland and Norway have blocked plans to create a whale sanctuary spanning the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Sanctuary failed in a vote at today’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Brazil when whaling nations Japan, Iceland and Norway and other pro-whaling countries voted against the proposal.
The South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary failed to achieve the three-quarters majority needed to be established. 39 countries voted for the sanctuary, 25 against, with three abstentions. The Australia Government voted to support the establishment of the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary.
“The world’s whales need sanctuary. Whales have never faced such a range of threats. Climate change, entanglement in fishing nets, plastic pollution, underwater noise and ship strikes threaten our ocean giants” said Tooni Mahto, campaigns manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
“There is an urgent need for us to better protect our whales and dolphins now, before it's too late.
“This sanctuary would have given our magnificent whales vital protection, and supported the growth of sustainable whale watching tourism to benefit local communities.
“Once again whaling nations have stood in the way of progress at the IWC.
“Pro-whaling nations have repeatedly blocked much-needed conservation measures like whale sanctuaries at recent IWC meetings, while pushing for a return to commercial whaling.
“Rather than supporting sanctuary for the whales, Japan wants to drag us back to the bad old days of global whaling.
“It is outrageous that Japan is urging the IWC to lift the ban on commercial whaling, and arguing for new commercial whaling quotas to be opened by 2020.
The IWC is due to debate the Government of Japan’s controversial “Way Forward” proposal that would lead to the resumption of commercial whaling tomorrow (Wednesday September 12, Brazil time).
Whale populations in the South Atlantic Ocean have been heavily impacted by commercial whaling and are yet to fully recover, AMCS said.
The ‘South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary’ proposal was put forward by the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Gabon, South Africa and Uruguay. Brazil committed to bring the proposal for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary back to next IWC meeting for approval.
AMCS is attending the meeting. The 89 nation IWC meets every two years.
The full Commission meeting is taking place in Florianopolis, Brazil September 10-14.