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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

Japan’s strategy is a simple one – get around the IWC Commission

For many years we have been concerned that Japan has been trying to bypass the IWC Commission, the actual decision making body, and seek to load the Scientific Committee with it’s own scientists and invited friends, – and then rely on their support for its expanding commercial whaling programmes.

Greenland and Denmark are currently trying to justify Greenland’s demands with threats to leave the IWC if its does not get what it wants. They are also using Japan’s argument which is that if the ‘Scientific Committee says its okay to kill whales, then its okay to kill whales’.

What should be remembered is that scientists are human beings and as political as anyone else. Please dont get me wrong, the IWC Scientific Committee has a lot of respected and conciencious scientists who are trying to give the best advice they can in pursuing whale and dolphin conservation. They seek to debate and test scientific ideas within the IWC, and, as they should be, these debates can be rigorous and robust.

We should however, recognise that some scientists are paid or supported to attend the IWC by their Governments and are expected to pursue a strategy that is in ‘the national interest’, -especially those from the countries that still have whaling industries who simply see whales and dolphins as a resource to exploit. 

The IWC has never simply accepted what the Scientific Committee has recomended or reported. Indeed, the Commission has often been able to bring a different perspective to the advice that the Committee can offer, including representing what their publics want to see happen.

It now seems that this is what is at stake at the ICJ, that is, whether the IWC is bound by the decisions of the unelected Scientific Committee (and open to the politics of instruction) or the decisions of the Commission (which, of course has its own politics, but) which is subject to a democratic reckoning by our publics.

On a day when the USA is celebrating it’s Independence Day, lets hope that we are not seeing the whaling debate fall under a new form of  ‘economic and scientific imperialism’ pursued by the remaining whaling industries.