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Friday, June 25, 2010

Good News for Whales: From the NRDC

I have fantastic news: the International Whaling Commission (IWC) announced yesterday that it is delaying action on a deal that would have legalized commercial whaling for the first time in a generation.

The IWC's decision is a huge victory for whales -- and for activists like you -- against very long odds. And it was made possible by more than 100,000 NRDC Members and BioGems Defenders like you who helped ignite a worldwide outcry against this potentially disastrous policy change.

Just weeks ago, Pierce Brosnan kicked off NRDC's public mobilization campaign by alerting you to this deadly deal and asking you to make your voice heard in opposition. At that time, an end to the ban on whaling seemed virtually inevitable.

The deal had been negotiated for years in secret, closed-door meetings. The talks were spearheaded by key governments, including our own, which believed that lifting the ban on whaling would rein in rogue whaling by Japan, Iceland and Norway.

But, in fact, the proposed deal was a capitulation to the whaling nations, conferring legitimacy on their slaughter of whales after they'd defied international law for years.

The deal would have suspended the whaling ban for 10 years and opened up a designated whale sanctuary to commercial whaling. And it would not have put binding measures in place to stop whaling nations from killing whales under legal loopholes like "scientific permits."

Worst of all, the deal would have given moral cover to the notion that we can save whales by killing them -- instead of by banning their slaughter.

Fortunately, a worldwide outcry helped halt this headlong rush to legalize the slaughter of whales for profit. It shone a spotlight on the secret proceedings and put pressure on anti-whaling nations -- like the United States -- to toughen their stance in negotiating with the whaling nations. That last-minute shift produced a whale-saving deadlock.

This fight is not yet over. The IWC has left the proposed deal open on its agenda, meaning that it could be revisited in the next two days. More likely, the IWC will opt for a year-long "cooling-off
period" and take up the issue again next year. We'll be ready to mobilize again whenever this proposed deal is put back on the table.

In the weeks and months ahead, we'll be urging the IWC to focus its conservation efforts on emerging threats to marine mammals that are growing with each passing day: from entanglement to ship strikes, from noise pollution to global warming.

In the meantime, I want to thank you for helping secure this important victory for whales -- and for making sure that the slaughter of whales for profit will remain illegal.

Sincerely,

Peter Lehner
Executive Director
Natural Resources Defense Council

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