Plan to Legalize Commercial Whaling Would Cost US Taxpayers - United States to Subsidize Whaling Industry if Approved

Jun 07, 2010, 14:35 ET from Environmental Investigation Agency

WASHINGTON, June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Washington, DC and London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today revealed that proposals to resume commercial whaling under the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will cost nearly 19 million dollars over the next decade.  Estimated additional costs for the US during this time would be over $988,000 if costs were shared between member countries.

A document posted to the IWC's website last week(1) outlined basic costs for setting up a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Scheme (MCSS) in the event that the IWC agrees to allow commercial whaling by Japan, Norway and Iceland to resume.

The cost of the scheme is estimated at $1,880,000 per year, with additional start-up costs of $250,000.  This does not include surveys to gather vital data for the calculation of alleged "safe" catch limits. The proposal on whether to legalize whaling will be considered by IWC members in Agadir, Morocco, June 21-25.

"It's certain that US citizens don't want their tax dollars used to subsidize the killing of whales," said EIA Campaign Biologist Samuel LaBudde, who added: "Financing whale hunts is not consistent with American interests and reason enough to reject the proposal to legalize Japan, Norway and Iceland's commercial whaling."

At present, total income paid by IWC members amounts to about $2,234,000, which contributes to the various costs associated with the operation of the IWC and its programs. The estimated cost for monitoring commercial whaling by just 3 of the 88 IWC members would almost double membership fees.

In previous IWC discussions about additional costs, whaling nations have refused to shoulder the majority of the burden.  If these costs are divided between member countries at the rate they currently pay in membership fees, the US would have to give an extra $100,000 per year beyond the $115,000 it already pays.

EIA is concerned that the cost of monitoring whaling would detract from current conservation efforts. The proposal promises that during the ten-year period "many new, positive conservation and management benefits will be introduced."  However, it is likely that many countries will reject paying additional fees, and instead try to shift funds from existing conservation programs towards work on whaling.

Far from bringing whaling under control, the proposal throws a financial lifeline to an economically distressed and environmentally unsustainable industry, and risks diverting already scarce resources from vital conservation efforts.

"It's a sweet deal for the three countries that have sabotaged and corrupted the IWC for more than 25 years, but a disaster for everyone else" said EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry, who added: "Unless nations unite to reject this proposal, the world will lose its best chance of consigning commercial whaling to the history books where it belongs."


(1) IWC/62/10  

SOURCE Environmental Investigation Agency