What’s up with Obama lifting the ban on commercial whaling? »
There hasn’t been enough in the news lately about marine life being killed by the excesses of civilization, so what the hell, let’s talk about whaling. Food Fight Grocery alerts us to a FOX News report (via UPI) that Obama is set to “break his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales” by negotiating a compromise to lift the ban on commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission next meets on June 20, when they will take up the proposal for a vote.
FOX News is trying to score cheap political points, but for once, they’re not wrong on the facts. Environmental groups are angry, and there’s a lot to not like here. The International Fund for Animals, along with Greenpeace and HSUS, released an open letter [PDF] condemning the compromise and has been urging action to flood the White House with calls.
So what’s this all about, anyway? The compromise would allow Iceland, Japan and Norway, the three remaining nations that hunt whales, to hunt whales legally for commercial purposes. In exchange, the nations would have to cap whaling below their current numbers and agree to tighter monitoring and regulation, including new efforts to help with conservation of whales and other marine life.
Iceland, Japan and Norway are going to keep hunting whales no matter what, and the number of slaughtered whales has been rising every year. Reducing this number would count a win, and by bringing outlaws under the watchful eyes of regulators, the worst abuses can be stopped—at least, that’s the logic behind the compromise. Environmentalists and other detractors say that passing the compromise would legitimize whale hunting, and that the compromise offers no long-term target to end whaling entirely.
At stake may also be the very existence of the IWC. If members can’t agree on a compromise, all signs point to the collapse of the 63-year-old organization. That would mean no standards, no monitoring, and nowhere to report illegal whaling.
No matter where you stand or which evil you feel is the lesser one, it’s clear that consensus on whale hunting will never happen without reaching the people who demand whale meat (and maybe smacking them upside the head). We’ve already gone after New Zealand for supporting this compromise, and if it passes, we’ll be really unhappy. But if it doesn’t pass? For the whales, it might be even worse.