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Global anti-whaling campaign launched

World Society for the Protection of Animals - USA

9th March 2004

Occasionally, you'll see a faded and peeling "Save the Whales!" bumper sticker on a passing car. With restrictions on commercial whaling in place since 1986 and strong international opposition to this practice, it would be easy to make the assumption that whaling is no longer a significant issue. But the whaling question is far from answered. Conservation arguments are continually under siege from those seeking to resume commercial whaling. The scientific loophole keeps whale meat on supermarket shelves. And perhaps the most powerful indictment against whaling - that of the immense cruelty, an irresolvable component of whaling - has yet to be addressed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

A new report, 'Troubled Waters', released today marks the launch of a global campaign against whaling. Key scientific and practical evidence is brought together for the first time to highlight the true extent of the cruelty inherent in the modern day killing of whales. More than 1,400 whales are expected to suffer a long and torturous death this year alone. An unprecedented coalition of over 140 non-governmental organizations in more than 55 countries is taking part in the 'Whalewatch' campaign.

It is lobbying the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to halt all commercial and scientific whaling operations, maintain the current ban on commercial whaling and make cruelty a front-burner issue.

Peter Davies, Director General of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), one of the leading groups in the coalition, said, "The cruelty behind whaling has become obscured in recent years by abstract arguments over population statistics. The fact is that, whether it is one whale or a thousand, whaling is simply wrong on cruelty grounds alone."

Although commercial whaling has been banned for almost 2 decades, over 20,000 whales have been killed since the ban came into force. The technology used for killing whales has changed little since the 19th century, when the grenade tipped harpoon was invented. In the constantly moving ocean environment where whales live and are hunted, a quick, clean kill is the exception, not the rule. Despite its destructive power, the harpoon often fails to kill outright and some whales take over an hour to die.

Considering the rollercoaster environment from which the harpoons are launched and the margin for human error in hitting a moving target, it is not surprising to learn that during the 2002/3 hunts, Norway reported around 20% of whales failed to die instantaneously. Japan admitted that almost 60% - a staggering statistic - were not killed outright. In fact, the question remains whether whales may still be alive when the butchering process starts, as current tests to determine the moment of death are inadequate.

Though the full extent of their suffering has yet to be scientifically evaluated, expectations are that it is immense. And the "Whalewatch" coalition members intend to bring this information to the forefront of the debate.

"Troubled Waters" A review of the welfare implications of modern whaling activities
WSPA_09March2004 ~ (pdf 1.46MB)

Broadcast quality footage, colour photographs, copies of the report and interviews available on request.

Visit for more.

Nick Braden,
HSUS, at (301) 258-3072;

Susan Sherwin,
WSPA, at (508) 879-8350, ext. 21

For more information, contact:

Susan Sherwin
Press Contact - WSPA USA
World Society for the Protection of Animals
34 Deloss St.
Framingham, MA 01702