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Success! Protection for great whales to remain

Some breaking, good news has emerged today from WDC’s team at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.

CITES is an international treaty drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife from exploitation and, at the lastest meeting (which began on September 24th) it was feared that key protection for whales might be removed.

The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need – Appendix 1 includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. It had been proposesd that a key decision related to the conservation of whales (Decision 14.81 on Great Whales) be withdrawn, which could then lead to the Apendix 1 protection for most whales being reassessed.

However, in co-operation with other NGOs we have lobbied tirelessly and have just learned that this proposal has been defeated and protection for these great whales will remain in place. No periodic review (which means a possible reassessment to remove trade restrictions) of great whales can now take place as long as the current international ban on whale hunting is in place.

WDC is attending the CITES meeting

At the meeting, Iceland argued for a removal of the decision and claimed their minke and fin whale hunts were sustainable, supported by Japan. Norway, currently the biggest commercial whaler in the world, was also in favour of this protection for whales being removed.

Representatives from Argentina argued against the proposal , supported by Australia, the EU states, Mexico, India,  Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile and the Bahamas.

The growing trade in whale products has raised concerns amongst many nations. By exploiting a loophole in the current ban on commercial whaling, Iceland and Norway have exported more than 9,000 tonnes of whale products to Japan and the Faroe Islands (a Danish territory) since 2008.

The decison today represents a big win in our fight to stop this trade, and the cruel slaughter of whales.