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Join Greenpeace

dive with the whales

Sperm whale, rare albino form, Azores Islands, Atlantic Ocean.© Minakuchi/Innerspace Visions
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.