Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Legislation Reasserts U.S. Leadership for Whale Protection Worldwide

/PRNewswire / -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW; - together with Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS) and Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA) - is championing new legislation to mitigate threats to whales and their habitats worldwide. Additional original co-sponsors of the bill include Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and Congresswoman Mazie Kirono (D-HI).

The International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2009 calls for the U.S. to renew its whale conservation leadership worldwide. The legislation comprehensively addresses major threats to whales including commercial whaling, ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, ocean noise, and climate change.

"We must do all we can to protect whales both in our waters and abroad," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director. "As the critical June 2009 meeting of the International Whaling Commission rapidly approaches, it is crucial for our government to take the lead on opposing the resumption of commercial whaling, ending lethal scientific whaling, and supporting global whale conservation."

Elements of the legislation include:
-- Promoting international efforts to conserve and protect the world's
whales throughout their range.
-- Strengthening the whale conservation and protection efforts of
relevant international organizations including the United Nations
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals,
the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the
International Maritime Organization.
-- Ensuring that the IWC commercial whaling ban is neither lifted nor
weakened and that the related illegal and lethal scientific whaling is
-- Reducing and, where possible, eliminating sources of human caused
death, injury, harassment and disturbance of the world's whales.
-- Initiating and expanding research to improve our understanding of the
world's whales including health and reproduction, whale habitats and
the impacts of human activities and other threats to whales.

"The significance of this policy is that it is a comprehensive policy for whale conservation across the United States government. This policy will be represented, conveyed, and implemented in a consistent manner by all departments, agencies, and overseas missions of the United States government whose responsibilities include or touch upon matters relating to whaling or whale conservation," said Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega of American Samoa

Whale protection is vital to the species' recovery and sustainability. With a new Administration in place, now is the time for the U.S. to reestablish itself as a global leader in whale conservation. A new direction in policy is also supported by other animal welfare and wildlife conservation groups.

"The Bush administration brokered closed door deals that could reduce protections for whales and leave them vulnerable to commercial whaling," said Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst for NRDC's Marine Mammal Protection Project. "This bill reasserts U.S. leadership in whale conservation by ending whaling for commercial purposes, by creating a long overdue scientific program for whales, and by promoting international efforts to reduce ocean noise."

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