Previous Greenpeace action for ending whaling. Photo via Greenpeace Finland
This morning, Greenpeace activists chained themselves to a cargo ship in the Dutch port of Rotterdam in an effort to block the export of whale meat from Iceland to Japan. The cargo ship held meat from 13 endangered fin whales, and the action was intended to get the attention of Dutch officials - Greenpeace is calling on them to stop the transport of the whale meat, as well as make a clear statement on where the country stands on whaling. Fewer than 50,000 fin whales are estimated to remain in the North Atlantic, which is why Greenpeace is so bent on making a statement with this shipment. Greenpeace issued a press release stating "The Netherlands has to be clear about its position. Does it want to have a hand in the transit of illicit whale meat?" asks Pavel Klinckhamers, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. "We want to send a clear message. If the Netherlands is involved in whale trade, it is jointly responsible for the unacceptable downfall of this endangered species."
According to Greenpeace, the international trade in fin whales and other whales is banned under CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The Netherlands is one of the 175 signatories to this treaty. However, Japan and Iceland refuse to comply with CITES and continue to trade in whale meat. And we know from the last meeting of CITIES that ocean life is not exactly getting the protection it really needs - sharks and bluefin tuna both got the shaft when it comes to tightening protections.
Greenpeace notes, though, that the International Whaling Committee (IWC) will gather this June, and the IWC may overturn its moratorium on commercial whaling, legitimizing whaling nations' hunts. That spells bad news for many whale species, and is based on short term economic incentives rather than long term ecological and economic thinking.
Greenpeace states that on Monday, the Icelandic government released a study with findings "supporting ongoing whaling based on logic that less whales will mean higher quotas for commercial fisheries." Short term thinking indeed.
More on Whaling
UN Says Japan Violated Anti-Whaling Activist's Human Rights
Whale-Watching Report: Whales More Valuable Alive Than Dead
Agenda 21 Scuttles Norwegian Whaling Vessel in Harbor: Fourth Ship Sunk in 12 Years