Sperm whale, rare albino form,
Azores Islands, Atlantic Ocean.© Minakuchi/Innerspace
|The International Whaling Commission (IWC)
agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982 because
of its continuing failure to manage whales without their
populations declining. Yet as early as 1937, when the first
whale sanctuary was introduced, whales were already heavily
over-exploited. The history of commercial whaling demonstrates
that whales have never been hunted sustainably.
Not only are whales slow to reproduce and impossible to count
accurately; whales also face a myriad of threats from other sources:
pollution, climate change, ozone depletion and a range of other
human activities. For these reasons Greenpeace believes there should
be a permanent ban on all commercial whaling.
As a means of achieving this goal, we support the creation of
whale sanctuaries. Sanctuaries, places of refuge, are areas that are
off-limits to whaling interests, places where whale populations can
breed, feed and continue their slow recovery from years of
exploitation. Sanctuaries offer critical opportunities to promote
whale conservation and non-lethal scientific research.
Sanctuaries can also offer attractive economic benefits.
Sanctuaries aid the development of whale watching, the only truly
sustainable economic form of activity involving whales. Whale
watching is a thriving industry, with more than 87 countries running
whale watching operations now, and generates US$1 billion in revenue
worldwide each year. Many coastal nations have benefited from the
development of whale watching operations. For instance, the
Dominican Republic alone nets US$5.2 million from its ecotourism, an
industry that was given a boost by the creation of the Silver Bank
Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary. The South Pacific island of Vava'u
is another example of how whale watching can both create jobs and
provide tangible economic benefits for local people.