Citizens from pro-whaling countries say “No” to whaling



Posted on 15 June 2006  | 
St Kitts and Nevis – On the eve of 58th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, a new WWF poll reveals that citizens from ten countries in the Pacific and Caribbean, whose governments repeatedly vote to resume commercial whaling, do not support the hunting and killing of whales.

The WWF poll was carried out in Palau, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis, where the IWC meeting is being held.

The poll included questions on: awareness of the IWC; whether countries should vote for or against a return to commercial whaling; and support for past votes that called for a return to commercial whaling.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Head of WWF’s Global Species Programme.

“Governments are ignoring public opinion and claiming to vote for whaling on behalf of their citizens. Commercial whaling will not help alleviate poverty nor help coastal communities. It doesn’t matter how many times you state it, it doesn’t make it true.”

In each Pacific country surveyed, a majority of people were unaware of the IWC, but many were against their country voting for a return to commercial whaling than were for it, and if their country had voted for a return in the past, they think that it should not have done so.

In answer to the question “Do you think your country should vote for or against a return to commercial whaling?”, the Marshall Islands rejected returning to whaling by 64%, Tuvalu by 64%, Kiribati by 47% (14% don’t know), Palau by 76%, and the Solomon Islands by 72%.

In none of the five Caribbean countries surveyed, does a majority think their country should vote for a return to commercial whaling, nor think their country should have in the past voted for a return to commercial whaling. In four of these countries, the majority of people were aware of the IWC.

In answer to the question “The representative of your country has in past meetings of the IWC voted for a return to commercial whaling. Do you think your country should have voted this way?” Grenada voted "no" by 33% (37% don’t know) St Lucia by 50% (17% don’t know) , Antigua and Barbuda by 79%, Dominica by 40% (14% don’t know), and St Kitts and Nevis by 54%.

Japan, through its 20-year pro-whaling lobbying strategy, is poised to claim “victory” this year by gaining the majority of votes needed at the IWC to set in course actions to dismantle the rules that protect whales and prepare the way for the eventual full resumption of commercial whaling.

“The Japanese government has been actively, and unabashedly, targeting small island developing states in the Caribbean and the Pacific, along with West African countries, to vote in favour of their pro-whaling agenda for years,” said Gordon Shepherd, Head of Policy at WWF International. “Our polling shows this a farce that’s not supported by the countries’ own citizens.”

WWF calls on the governments of the ten countries surveyed to consider the needs of their own citizens, and vote for whale conservation at this year’s IWC meeting.

END NOTES:

• The research in the Pacific was carried out by Fiji-based Tebbutt Research, a full service market research company with international credentials and project experience, combined with local knowledge and a presence on the ground in the Pacific. The surveys were conducted by telephone, using randomly selected numbers from phone books for each country. Respondents were selected randomly from the household, and all were adult citizens of the country they reside in. Interviews were conducted in four languages – English, Pidgin, I-Kiribati, and Tuvaluan. All interviews, validation, quality control, data entry and analysis were conducted in-house by Tebbutt Research to strict standards according to ESOMAR guidelines. Some 200 interviews were conducted in each country (1,000 in total), between 25 May and 6 June 2006. Using population data from the CIA World Factbook, the sample size selected gives a maximum statistical margin of error of less than 7% for each country at the 95% confidence level.

• The research in the Caribbean was carried out by Meridian Marketing Support Services Ltd, an independent research company based in Trinidad and Tobago. The poll was taken using a prepared questionnaire between 25 May and 8 June 2006. Individuals polled were selected via a random method and using the local telephone listing as the sampling frame. Individuals were polled via telephone interviews. In each territory the margin of error is 4%, with a confidence interval of 95%. Sample size – 300 persons in each territory.

For further information:
Joanna Benn, Communications Manager
WWF Global Species Programme
Tel: +39 348 726 7313

Olivier van Bogaert, Senior Press Officer
WWF International
Tel: +41 22 364 9554
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) feeding (fluke). Cape Cod, Massachussets, USA
© WWF-Canon / William W. ROSSITER Enlarge

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