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WWF press updates from the International Whaling Commission's 62nd annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco.


Russia puts oil and gas development before whales

Agadir, Morocco, June 23 (WWF) – Russia today at the 62nd annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting refused to comply with repeated calls to postpone a planned seismic survey in the feeding grounds of the critically endangered Western North Pacific Gray Whale.

With just 26 known breeding females of the Western Gray Whale population remaining, seismic blasts in the Russian Far East where females and their calves are trying to feed led the IWC’s Scientific Committee to express “serious concerns about the potential impact on Western Gray Whales” and to “strongly recommend” that the Rosneft seismic survey be postponed.

“The scientific recommendation and statements by several governments here at the IWC should have served as a wake up call to Russia” said Wendy Elliott of WWF. “This whale population is on the brink of extinction, yet oil and gas exploration in its only feeding ground is increasing.”

“This is absolutely scandalous and completely ignores sound scientific advice,” Elliott said. “Russia must reconsider its position on allowing the Rosneft seismic testing to go ahead this year.”

“In addition to scientific advice of IWC, a Russian scientific body has also raised concerns about the Rosneft survey” said Aleksey Knizhnikov, WWF-Russia Oil and Gas Environmental Policy Officer. “Furthermore, this survey will be undertaken inside the proposed whale reserve that Russian government are currently considering establishing.”

Countries that took the floor to support the Scientific Committee recommendation that the survey be postponed included United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Monaco.

Russia responded by stating that they believed the seismic survey was due to take place as planned.

Media Contacts

Natalia Reiter
WWF International Media Officer

Ian Morrison
WWF International Media Officer

IWC pictures available for media use

Progress of IWC 62 is a disappointment: WWF

Agadir, Morocco, June 23 (WWF) – WWF is extremely disappointed at the breakdown in negotiations among governments at the 62nd annual International Whaling Commission.

The 88 governments attending the meeting considered a new proposal put forward by the Chair that would have allowed commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean for the first time in almost 25 years and would have set commercial whaling quotas for whales listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.

But delegates said today they had reached an ‘impasse’ on the proposal, so it is highly unlikely that a decision on the future of the IWC will be made this week.

More than 33,000 whales have been killed since the ban on commercial whaling was put in place.

“WWF is extremely disappointed with the progress of this meeting,” said Wendy Elliott, WWF International Species Manager.

“A compromise solution which brings whaling under the control of the IWC is clearly needed, and governments at this meeting failed to find a way forward. Once again, they have put politics before science.

“This brings into question the integrity of the Commission and its ability to make meaningful decisions that benefit whale conservation.”

“WWF has always fully supported the maintenance of the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling at the IWC.”

“The huge amount of political will and good relations that have been developed through this process must not be set aside at this critical juncture for whales.”

“The IWC can only move forward by focusing on saving whales, not on politics.” Wendy Elliott added.

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