Greenpeace asks IWC for historic whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic
Greenpeace and a vast coalition of environmental groups are calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to establish a sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean that would protect Southern Hemisphere whales from commercial whaling for their entire lives.
The South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS), if passed by a majority vote on Monday, would be the first conservation measure put in place by the IWC since the commercial whaling moratorium was put in place in 1986.
“Establishing this sanctuary would mean that the whales of the Southern Hemisphere could live their entire lives free from the threat of commercial whaling,” said Phil Kline, Senior Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace, adding this “means they would be there for generations of whale watchers from around the world to come and enjoy”.
Most of the whales in the Southern Hemisphere are highly migratory, feeding in the nutrient rich waters of the Antarctic before travelling to tropical waters to give birth. They then make the long migration back to their feeding grounds in the South.
“It’s a massive journey, and so we’re asking for a massive sanctuary,” said Kline. “But with whale conservation, size matters.”
The United States has already come out in favour of the sanctuary and is encouraging its allies to vote for its implementation, but the vote is sure to be close as Japan and other pro-whaling countries are vocally against the measure.
“The United States, Panama, and the rest of our allies know whale watching works both environmentally and economically,” said Kline.
If implemented, the SAWS would assure the recovery of whale populations, promote conservation on both feeding and breeding grounds, and promote research while helping develop responsible whale watching that drive tourism for many coastal communities in South America.