New controversy brewed ahead of the International Whaling Commission meeting next week in Maderia that is already contentious. Greenland wants IWC approval to slaughter 50 humpback whales in a semi-autonomous Danish territory and has sought the support of Sweden to garner European support.
Adding to the animosity today was confirmation that, between 1943 and 1976, Russia—then the Soviet Union—had killed 200,000 more whales than they reported, including calves, pregnant females and severely endangered species. It is believed that this flagrant and indiscriminate slaughter likely doomed the Right Whale in the Southern hemisphere to extinction.
The upcoming IWC session, set to begin on Monday, could be historic. Earlier this year, pro-slaughter allies met in Tokyo to vote in a bloc to win a key vote that could see the resumption of commercial whaling later this summer. Ever since the 1985 moratorium on all slaughter for commercial purposes, Japan has been consistently taking 1000 whales a year under a loophole called “scientific and research” whaling. In response to the Tokyo meeting, the European Union quickly organized an anti-whaling bloc of votes. Green activists also exposed a secret back room deal (dubbed Whalergate) which would have allowed Japan unlimited quota along its coast in exchange for reduced hunts in the Antarctic. IWC Commissioner Bill Hogarth from the US, who led these secret negotiations, stepped down leaving the matter unresolved and the IWC deeply divided.