In our recent past, whales have been overexploited, hunted and killed to the brink of extinction. A 1986 ban on commercial whaling has helped whale populations rebound, but that ban has failed to prevent Japan, Norway and Iceland from killing hundreds of whales each year in defiance of the commission.
History could repeat itself as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) -- the international body responsible for the conservation of whales and the regulation of whaling - decides whether or not to end the decades-long moratorium on commercial whaling worldwide in a covert deal that has been in the works for several years.
Members of the committee are currently assembled in Agadir, Morocco.
A global movement is underfoot to urge President Obama to uphold his campaign promise to protect whales and ban commercial whaling. This includes 200 scientists who spoke out against commercial whaling: "The IWC must not undermine the conservation achievements of the last few decades by again endorsing commercial whaling," they said in a petition
Click here to see a video about this issue by Hawaii homeowner Pierce Brosnan.
Whales who swim throughout the world's oceans (including our Hawaiian waters each winter to mate, give birth and nurse their young) face overwhelming challenges to survival. Ship strikes, pollution, entanglements, loss of habitat -and whaling pose the most critical and massive threats to the continuation of these species. Many populations of whales critically endangered, and yet some nations continue to hunt and kill whales under the guise of "research".
At stake with the proposal on the table are the resumption of commercial whaling, targeting of vulnerable and endangered species, and whaling taking place in IWC-declared sanctuaries, according stated Australia Environment Minister Peter Garrett. Japan, Iceland and Norway, and unknown others, will be given a license to kill whales if the moratorium on whale killing is lifted.
Stay tuned as the open meetings resume tomorrow.