IWC, Greenpeace, and Obama Administration Aren't Standing Up for the Whales

Greenpeace Executive Director Philip Radford's HuffPost piece, "Obama Administration Keeps Promise on Whale Conservation at International Talks", needs a response. For those of us who worked hard to defeat the proposal, which the U.S. supported, to congratulate the Administration for a victory for whales they tried to defeat at the recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is insulting at best. The deal failed because they were unable to get the whaling nations to agree to even a modicum of oversight and because our environmental friends in Australia, the European Union and South American, and NOT the United States, took strong positions to oppose it.

This is a good PR piece for Greenpeace but fails to relate the facts. In spite of all of the efforts of the environmental community throughout the world who, excluding the PEW Environmental Group, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace, strenuously opposed any deal that would effectively legalize whaling, Monica Medina, US IWC Delegation head, continued to support allowing Japan, Norway and Iceland to legally kill whales for commerce to the very end. The U.S. wasn't working to protect the whales, it was working to appease Japan and other whaling nations. Greenpeace, PEW and WWF actually supported allowing some commercial whaling, which was a part of the "deal" that the Obama Administration was pushing, in exchange for Japan agreeing to stay out of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. What kind of a deal for the whales is that? A bad one from start to finish. To begin with it not only would legalize the renewal of commercial whaling and all that implies, including making it impossible for Australia to sue Japan in the world court, allowing Iceland to join the EU, opening up the door for nations like Korea who also want to be allowed to whale, and making it next to impossible to determine which whales murdered were done through legal means versus illegal means, but it would also be a reward for the bad, illegal behavior of Japan, Iceland and Norway.

Because of Greenpeace, PEW, WWF and Medina the proposal wasn't voted down, it was essentially tabled until next year and nothing was done to improve the current situation. In fact, at the very end, with no good reason, the IWC voted to allow Greenland in include the kill of 9 Humpback whales, with the active support of the U.S. These were presumably allowed, without scientific review of their population status, for "subsistence" purposes. We know however, that much of the so-called "subsistence" whaling in Greenland is not for those purposes and much of the whale meat ends up on the illegal market. A good deal for the whales? I think not- at least 9 more whales will be slaughtered for no good reason.

Adding insult to injury, it was revealed before the IWC meeting by the London Sunday Times that Japan had engaged for years in blatant bribery and corruption of other IWC delegates, including cash payments, prostitutes, hotel bills and airline tickets to attend meetings. Do you think the US delegation raised this issue during the 5 days of the IWC meeting? Or Greenpeace? They specifically avoided any discussion of corruption because that would have jeopardized getting a deal with Japan to gut whale protections and allow legal commercial whaling.

For anyone to say that the U.S was working to save whales is an affront to one's intelligence and dangerous indeed, since next year the U.S. will be back, again claiming that allowing the resumption of commercial whaling is good for the whales while getting credit for protecting them.