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Whaling Ban


The following is a press release from BMP (Breach Marine Protection), now defunct. I burst into tears of joy when I read it. Thanks to everyone who did their small part in making this wonderful event happen, especially to those Yorkshire Brits at Breach who fought the lawsuit in the US Appeals Court. Way to go!

US Appeals Court Overturns Makah Whaling Ruling

A United States federal appeals court overturned the ruling that allowed Washington State’s Makah Indians to re-start killing whales. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the Yorkshire-based BMP and other plaintiffs, holding that the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) violated environmental laws in its rush to grant the Makah the ability to kill whales. In 1999, the Makah killed a female baby Gray whale under this US government authorisation.

Can the Federal Defendants now be trusted to take the clear-eyed hard look at the whaling proposal’s consequences required by law, or will a new Environmental Assessment (EA) be a classic Wonderland case of first-the-verdict, then-the-trial?” the Court asked.

This is a major victory for the whales! said David Smith, BMP ’s Campaigns Director. The ruling is justification for four years of work and many thousands of pounds spent. It has been a long, hard road through the US court system, but justice has finally been done.

Initially, the maiming and slaughter of thirty four Eastern Pacific Gray whales was at stake. But when a consensus of Commissioners at the 40 country strong International Whaling Commission meeting (including the UK) in 1977 allowed the United States to claim they had IWC (International Whaling Commission) authorisation to kill Gray whales, this set a new precedent for whaling world-wide.

Anyone indigenous to an area that had a history of whaling could now claim the same ‘rights’ as the Makah. Smith said in 1997. It’s called ‘cultural’ whaling, the name for a loophole that nations looking to kill whales can drive a coach and horses through. Here in Yorkshire they whaled from Hull and Whitby; I’m indigenous to this area, shall I now claim a ‘cultural right’ to slaughter whales in the North Sea?

The global implication of Makah whaling that was one of the motivations which took Breach Marine Protection 9.66 megameters (6,000 miles) miles to courts in Washington State and San Francisco. Another was that none of the big, household name ‘anti-whaling’ groups were prepared to take up the issue in any meaningful way said a BMP spokesperson today. A lot of groups made a big thing of this issue in their newsletters but that’s where it stopped. The likes of WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Greenpeace and others saw this as a political hot potato that would burn the fingers of their friendship with the almighty Americans.

Both these groups have already backed attempts by the US government to weaken US Dolphin-Safe Tuna import laws. Indeed, a report to the NMFS, unearthed under the US Freedom of Information procedure whilst preparing the Appeal, alleges that Greenpeace US actually sent a letter of support to the Makah.

Roedy’s note: Greenpeace oppose commercial whaling but are willing to live with subsistence whaling. Greenpeace erroneously classifies the Makah hunt as subsistence even though the Makah have survived happily for many decades without whale meat. They also ignore the foot in the door effect. Commercial whalers in Japan and Norway encourage the Makah because it makes it easier to make a case for resuming commercial whaling.

Last year, Breach Marine Protection was banned from both IWC meeting and the UK Whale Forum for a peaceful protest it undertook in support of Gray whales at the IWC headquarters in Cambridge. Three requests were made by BMP, the IWC was asked to:

These very reasonable requests sought a democratic vote (something that should have happened in 1997) of IWC Commissioners on one of the most controversial issues the IWC has ever considered. But instead of democracy, a behind-closed-doors meeting of IWC Commissioners acted as accusers, judge and jury, allowing BMP no representation and banned it from IWC meetings. Later, the UK Commissioner wrote to BMP also banning it from UK Whale Forum meetings for the same peaceful protest.

The United States Court proves that the US acted illegally by allowing the Makah to kill whales. Breach Marine Protection acted to uphold the law by demonstrating at the IWC headquarters, we will now be seeking reparation from both the IWC and the British government for defamation brought on by their bans. BMP said today.

Note: the next IWC meeting opens in Adelaide, Australia on the 3rd. July.

More, contact:

David Smith 0973 898282

3, St. John’s Street, Goole, E. Yorkshire, DN14 5QL, UK
Tele: +44 (0)1405 769375
Fax: +44 (0)1405 769439
24hr.: 0973 898282

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