World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Pushes Animal Welfare

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) logo

Marco Calvo

Release Date

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


International animal charity WSPA pushes animal welfare to the forefront of IWC agenda.

As the world prepares for the 63rd International Whaling Commission (IWC) Annual Meeting, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has launched a new report, which hopes to spark much needed progress in the protection of whales from cruelty.

The report findings, taken from their Whale Welfare and Ethics Workshop, outline a new strategy to advance the protection of whales. The workshop, held earlier this year, was attended by more than 30 international experts including eminent academics in animal welfare, ethics, and marine mammal science.

Strong recommendations from the group include issues such as:

  • Whale welfare impacts of hunting and scientific research
  • Unanimous agreement that whales are sentient; they have the ability to suffer and as such we have a responsibility to protect them from that.
  • Agreed specific measures to control human activities which harm whales, including entanglements in fishing gear, ship strikes, and badly managed whale watching.
  • Particular concern that commercial hunting of whales routinely causes severe and prolonged suffering, which is at odds with most modern commercial slaughter standards.

Delegates at the Workshop also agreed that research on whales should be subject to independent ethical review which analyses the costs and benefits of the research to ensure that the use of the animals is justified and their suffering minimised.

WSPA also secured crucial formal support for the report from the Buenos Aires Group (BAG), an 11-country strong block of Latin American IWC members. 3

Marcela Vargas, Programme Manager at WSPA Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean said: "We are very happy that the Latin American members of the IWC are maintaining a strong position on the protection of whales and it is hugely encouraging that they are supportive of this initiative to promote good welfare for whales. Good animal

welfare has obvious benefits to whale watching, which is very important in many countries in this region."ÔøΩ

The whaling ban, in place since 1986, has been largely successful in conserving the world's whales and stabilising their populations.

However, WSPA is firmly opposed to whaling on animal welfare and ethical grounds and is looking for the IWC to recognise the breadth of research that demonstrates a whale's ability to suffer and feel pain.

Claire Bass, WSPA International's Oceans Campaign Leader said: "The IWC is still in deadlock over commercial whaling and ethical and welfare issues are central to this debate. This report provides a highly credible foundation for the IWC to update its approach to these crucial issues. WSPA hopes that the IWC will listen to the opinions of global experts to bring itself in line with the modern-day commitments and expectations for the humane treatment of animals."ÔøΩ

WSPA will be attending the IWC Annual Meeting next week with the firm hope that the Workshop's findings and recommendations will be approved and acted on.

Photo credit to WSPA

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