Contributed by: Don WinnerEnvironmental organizations announced on Thursday in Panama that in July they will demand at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission the creation of a sanctuary to protect whales in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, around the continent. "We propose that all countries continue to declare their waters as a sanctuary for whales to create a great corridor and whale sanctuary in the Americas. From Alaska to Chile and from Canada to Argentina, including the waters of the Caribbean," said Gabriel Despaigne, of the Green Association of Panama.
From 2 to 6 July in Panama will be held the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an organization created in 1946 by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. But environmentalists fear that the proposal, agreed by various civic organizations throughout the continent, will not come out ahead at the IWC, so they are thinking about taking their petition to the heads of governments of the region. "If the conservation of whales does not advance in this poor obsolete commission, the region has legitimacy and political power to propose their own or international conservation framework or (develop) a regional treaty," said Jose Truda of the Cetacean Conservation Center, an NGO in Brazil and Argentina.
"Little by little each country in Latin America should declare its territorial waters as a sanctuary," as has already been done in Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Chile, said Marcela Vargas, of the World Society for Animal Protection, with a regional office in Costa Rica. According to statistical data provided by Truda, in the twentieth century more than two million whales were caught by the fishing industry, which has put this animal on the brink of extinction. (BS. See Comments)
During the IWC meeting, environmentalists also highlight the importance of whale watching as a form of tourism and income for countries, and an alternative to hunting the animal. "There is much talk of ecotourism for forests and birds. But the sighting of whales and dolphins is the fastest growing in the world where Latin American countries have more potential," said Truda, who said this activity brings in $2.1 billion dollars a year.
The environmentalists of the NGOs accuse the IWC of representing the interests of Japan and the defenders of whaling. (Estrella)
Editor's Comment: Whales are not "on the verge of extinction" (see graphic above). A moratorium on whaling was instituted in 1986 and since then only a few countries such as Japan, Iceland, and Norway continue to harvest whales. Personally I think there are plenty of cows, pigs, and chickens in the world that we can kill and eat every year, and there are lots of ways to grow and harvest seafood or other forms of water borne protein if you happen to prefer seafood. Why the Japanese insist on eating whale flesh, I have no idea. I think the point about there being more money to make in whale watching is excellent.