Wednesday 16 June 2010

Graphic anti-whaling video released in protest of 'whale hunting plans'

A graphic anti-whaling video featuring Alice Dellal, the British model, appearing to paint with whale blood has been released, ahead of a key international meeting that could allow limited commercial whaling.

By Andrew Hough
Published: 7:00AM BST 16 Jun 2010

The one minute 21 second protest video, which has been posted on YouTube, was released by campaigners ahead of next week’s International Whaling Commission gathering in Agadir, Morocco.

Members of the international body, which regulates whaling, will meet to consider a controversial plan to legitimise the practice for the first time in a quarter of a century.

It is expected the 88 member nation body will approve a compromise between pro and anti-whaling countries, which could include allowing commercial whaling on a limited scale.

Conservationists fear any overturning of the ban on hunting whales could “potentially open the floodgates to whaling across the globe once again”. Britain is a strong supporter of the whaling ban.

On Tuesday, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) released the video in protest against the controversial practice.

It also started an online petition, where protest messages will be sent to world leaders who favour overturning the ban, including Barack Obama, the US President.

The video, narrated by Christopher Eccleston, the former Doctor Who star, shows Miss Dellal, 22, painting a wall with a brush that appears to be soaked in whale blood and animal body parts.

Miss Dellal, also a socialite who has been dubbed the new Kate Moss, said she was happy to lend her name to the short film.

“The whole thing (whaling) just sounds so wrong to me,” she said.

Profit-driven whale hunting has been banned for 25 years and international trade in whales or whale parts is forbidden under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Japan, Norway and Iceland, the three countries which still hunt whales, have used loopholes in the moratorium to continue to track and kill the animals.

Japanese ministers on Tuesday threatened to pull out of commission if no progress was made to ease the banning.

It is estimated around 35,000 whales have been slaughtered since the ban was introduced in 1986.

Japan particularly hunts whales under the legal loophole that allows killing of the ocean giants for "scientific research" despite failing to hide the fact whale meat is sold in shops and restaurants throughout the country.

Japan targets culling up to 935 whales in the Antarctic each year although it was able to catch only about half of that number in its latest hunt because of harassment by militant anti-whaling activists.

But under the IWC draft proposal, the three countries would reduce their whale kills over the next decade, subject to tight monitoring, with Japan eventually cutting its Antarctic whale culls by three-quarters.

The whaling states would each be granted annual kill quotas through 2020, totalling nearly 12,000 specimens, in return giving up the right to invoke unilateral exemptions.

The 10-year deal is designed to create a pressure-free zone for hammering out a durable agreement.

But anti-whaling groups fear it will legitimate commercial hunting and provide an incentive to push for an overturn of the ban once the decade-long deal expires.

They also warn that ending the moratorium will threaten the long-term survival of whale populations and will be a symbolic defeat for countries trying to preserve the endangered species.

Anti-whaling states, including Australia and New Zealand, have also called the proposed whaling quota system unacceptable.

It is thought that Britain's opposition to whaling will go uncounted because EU members of the IWC vote as a block and Denmark is expected to support lifting the ban.

“This deal is not in the interests of whales and means a return to a world of industrial whaling,” said Chris Butler-Stroud, the WDCS chief executive.

The Australian government has announced that it will take Japan to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in an attempt to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Reports in the US have suggested the White House was leading a push within the commission to lift the ban on whaling against. Critics say Mr Obama was breaking a campaign promise to support such a lifting.

The US is said to have been concerned that if it blocks the plan, Japan will veto the renewal of IWC permission for small-scale whale catching by indigenous American peoples in Alaska.

Japan, which would be allowed to catch 120 whales a year under the plan, needs three quarters of the vote to lift the ban on whaling. It is thought it currently has support of just under half of the nations.

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