Cousteau Society, whales and whaling

“Surely whales have more to offer us that ‘seafood’ for our cats, or stays for corsets, or ribs for umbrellas. Calypso’s men are intensely aware of the whales’ true value; we have seen these gray-black cylinders of flesh from underwater; we have been scrutinized by their cloudy blue eyes; our limbs have been spared the crushing impact of a female whale’s fin. We have heard the whales sing. And we want – we very desperately want – to hear them sing again.” (1976)

Jacques Cousteau committed himself and the Cousteau Society to the cessation of commercial whaling in the 1970s and the Society continues that battle today. For nearly twenty years, the Society has dispatched Official Observers to the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the administrative body established by the 1946 International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling to bring order to an industry—commercial whaling—that was killing animals at a rate that even whalers acknowledged could not be sustained. Observers are allowed only limited speaking opportunities but they can “work the halls,” helping governments understand the near-total opposition to whaling of the world’s citizenry and the devious maneuvers used to justify killing these magnificent animals.

This year, in Agadir, a “Proposed Consensus Decision to Improve the Conservation of Whales” was presented for acceptance at the 2010 IWC meeting in Agadir, Morocco. This proposal is the result of decades of pro-whaling efforts to wear down conservationist treaty parties and drag them to the acceptance of re-packaged commercial whaling. Tragically, it has even been supported by historical whale defenders such as the United States as a way to reduce the number of whales being killed through legal loopholes. The Cousteau Society has joined other NGOs to publicize the danger posed by the proposal and will be in Agadir to carry on the fight.

Check our 2010 relase online >>

For more information about the structure of the IWC, the issues involved and the Cousteau Society’s role, see IWC FAQs in our IWC 2009 report