Call for action to eliminate whaling

Nachfolgend wird eine geringfügig modifizierte Pressemitteilung des Europäischen Parlaments dokumentiert.

The Fisheries Committee is arguing for the elimination of lethal whaling for scientific purposes and the maintenance of the global moratorium on commercial whaling. In a report adopted on Wednesday, MEPs call for the EU to work towards obtaining a „universal agreement“ on whaling.
Almost one in four cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) species are currently regarded as under threat, with nine species listed as either endangered or critically endangered, and the status of others remains unclear. According to the report drawn up by Elspeth Attwooll (ALDE, UK), although some whale populations have recovered somewhat since the introduction of the moratorium in 1986, others have not and their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions remains unknown.

Exceptions to the current moratorium

The present moratorium applies only to commercial whaling. In addition to the exception for aboriginal whaling, scientific research can be undertaken under special permits which are issued by the country undertaking the research. Not all members of the International Whaling Commission (20 out of 27 EU Member States are members of the IWC) have signed up to the moratorium so commercial whaling still takes place.

„There are suggestions, too, that the commercial use of whale meat is a by-product of scientific whaling“, says Ms Attwooll.

The Fisheries Committee is calling on the Council, the Commission and those Member States participating in the working group of the IWC to work toward the achievement of an „universal agreement“ on whaling.

The tragic history of commercial whaling, combined with the numerous threats currently faced by whale populations, means, says the committee, that the EU must promote the highest level of protection for whales at a global level.

Maintain global moratorium on commercial whaling and end scientific whaling

MEPs support the maintenance of the global moratorium on commercial whaling and a ban on international commercial trade in whale products. They seek to end „scientific whaling“ and support the designation of substantial regions of ocean and seas as sanctuaries in which all whaling is indefinitely prohibited.

The committee notes that the EU Habitats Directive defining the Community position with respect to whales (and dolphins) „would not allow the resumption of commercial whaling in respect of any stock of whales in EU waters“.

The report accepts the need for a limited amount of hunting to be done by those with a tradition of hunting whales for their own sustenance, but calls for much greater emphasis on research into, and the employment of, humane killing methods. The committee calls for any such hunting to take place only with „clear quotas“ and „under strict controls“.

More Marine Protected Areas

MEPs call also for the establishment, in suitable locations around the world, of more Marine Protected Areas in which whales would receive special protection and for the use of more selective fishing gear to avoid by-catches of other species, particularly cetaceans. Threats to the cetacean population arising from climate change, pollution, ship strikes, fishing gear, anthropogenic ocean noise (including sonar, seismic surveys and vessel noise) and other hazards should also be tackled outside such protected areas. The Fisheries Committee considers that the Commission should, in advance of global action, bring forward further proposals to counter such threats in respect of EU waters and EU vessels.

The Commission should also define a revised regulatory framework for the practice of whale-watching that protects the economic and social interests of coastal regions where this activity is carried out, taking account of its recent development, MEPs say.

Procedure: Own-initiative report – Committee vote: 22 in favour, 2 against — Plenary vote: February II, Brussels
In the chair : Philippe Morillon (ALDE, FR)