As a child, Bruce Foerster was very interested in the welfare of animals, a movement that has grown in prominence over the years. As he got older, he started to realize how he alone could make a difference in the wellbeing of animals, whales in particular. People often underestimate how much power one person can have. Bruce clearly demonstrated his understanding of the “Power of One”.
Bruce Foerster is a long-time member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization comprised of visionary, resourceful, and determined individuals who aggressively seek out ways to better the lives and protect ocean-dwelling animals from the cruel hand of man.
Other notable members of this organization include Alex Pacheco, who became the founder of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Peter Woof, who led campaigns to protest the damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River. Bruce Foerster joined the ranks of these noteworthy individuals when he made a massive contribution to the conservation of whales.
Belize, a small nation, attracts many tourists throughout the year. Although Japan, through its influence, had bought and paid for this nation, Belize realized that supporting Japan’s bid to overturn the ban on whaling could take a heavy toll on their tourism industry. Bruce, who owns a small resort in Belize decided to give the Belize government an ultimatum. In 2006 he wrote the Belize government and threatened to close his resort and encourage his colleagues in the resort industry to do likewise, a move that could have had a disastrous effect on Belize’s most important new industry. Belize capitulated and voted in favor of preserving the whaling moratorium. This was the one critical vote which denied Japan the legal right to kill whales.
Bruce set a good example for people who are truly concerned about the environment and the preservation of species, proving it is possible for one person to make a difference.
A Summary of Bruce Foerster’s “Save the Whales” Letter
“I wanted to get my point across about how I felt regarding the entire situation,”explains Bruce Foerster, “I was informative about the whaling industry and my tone in the letter reflected my concern. I also made sure that my actions would have an effect on the government, which would make them think twice about their whaling policies. One of the major reasons I chose to set up my ecotourism business in Belize was because of their very 'green' attitude reflected in their environmental policies.” Continues Foerster, “Evidence of this was the fact that the Belize Government had set aside almost half the country in preserves, parks, and other protected areas. They had instituted strict laws to protect marine and terrestrial animals and demonstrated their commitment to environmental protection in many other ways as well, including limiting the size of resorts. When I then learned that they were in discussions with the Japanese and were, for a price willing to vote with them and abolish the Moratorium on Whaling, I switched into high gear and wrote to the Prime Minister.”
Bruce made sure to express his negative feelings toward the whaling actions of Belize. He started his letter by declaring his understanding that Belize was planning to attend the International Whaling Commission in 2006, where they had stated that they would vote with Japan to scrap the moratorium on whaling in exchange for an undisclosed amount of ‘foreign aid’. Bruce Foerster let it be known he was absolutely opposed to this decision.
Bruce informed the government of Belize about some facts of the whaling industry including the fact that commercial whaling had already reduced the population of these creatures to roughly one percent of its numbers before whaling was introduced. There are millions of people who are strictly against whaling of any kind and Bruce commented that the practice of slaughter these highly evolved, sentient, intelligent animals should never be permitted or even tolerated.
Bruce mentioned he is a business owner based in Belize, working in the tourism sector, bringing in thousands of guests each year. Bruce indicated that he would immediately sell his resort if Belize voted in favor of whaling. This could have led to a major amount capital being taken out of the city, which Bruce’s resort was responsible for generating. With his company gone, Belize would lose over 100 full-time positions and millions of dollars of tax revenues.
Bruce stated he could not support a nation that was in favor of despicable acts, like whaling. He is a strong advocate for the environment and wildlife and had long supported Belize for the same beliefs. The decision Belize had made to vote pro-whaling made Bruce Foerster realize that the nation was not as environmentally conscious as it had claimed. That is why he offered the ultimatum for the nation to vote against whaling or suffer the potential consequences.
Belize had quickly changed its mind when its government officials received Bruce’s letter. Not only did they not want to suffer through such an economic backlash due to the loss of his resort, but they also understood his points. Commercial whaling had obviously severely reduced the population of whales, and Japan’s efforts were only making this situation worse. Bruce Foerster demonstrated the power of one person and successfully overturned a major decision that would have led to a complete collapse of the whale population.
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