“Another IWC Tackles Big Issues” – from the newsletter of the International Women’s Club of Cancun

Another IWC Tackles Big Issues

Heather Spence

Earth Day is almost here – April 22. On this day, we may be interested to learn the details of a compromise being developed by our partner in acronym, the International Whaling Commission. One of the earliest slogans in the environmental movement was “Save the whales.” Whales have captured the public’s attention and interest, not just for their size or behavior, but also for their underwater communication. “The recordings worked because they have a very emotional impact on people who hear them – I’ve actually seen people weep while listening to them. People began realizing this is a terrible thing happening to the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth” says Roger Payne, famous researcher of humpback whale songs.

Whales are threatened globally by ocean noise, warmer more acidic seas, offshore energy development, and hunting. The peaks of whale hunting occurred in the late 1700s in the southern hemisphere for Right whales, in the mid 1800s off new england for Sperm whales, and in the mid 1900s with global industrial whaling. A moratorium on hunting was agreed to in 1986 by all IWC members except Japan, Iceland and Norway. 1800-2200 whales are killed every year. Japan claims the hunts are for science, Iceland and Norway conduct commercial hunts, and indigenous groups in US, Canada, Russia, Greenland, St. Vincent and Grenadines do ‘subsistence’ hunting. This is all direct hunting – whale mortality as a side effect from other fishing efforts is another whole issue, and one in which Mexico has been very involved especially with Vaquita conservation.

“Whales face more threats today than at any time in history,” says Patrick Ramage, global whale program director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. US commissioner Monica Medina says “it’s a global problem and needs global solutions.” How will we proceed? What compromises can and should be made? We have the ability to obliterate life – we can do it if we don’t decide not to. On and around Earth Day, as we especially think about our individual and group roles interacting with our environment, how do we want to contribute to global solutions?

Questions? Comments? E-mail me:  info@heatherspence.net

IWCC website (International Women’s Club of Cancun)

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