The bill is very similar to one also in the House of Representatives and is being sponsored by Senator John Kerry in the Senate who cited the need for the US to lead the way in the fight to protect whales and is pushing to get this bill through before the next meeting of the IWC coming this summer. With thousands of whales that are harassed, injured, and killed every year due to the illegal whaling industry, shipping collisions, pollution, habitat destruction, and naval military exercises there is an ever increasing need for strong and active legislation to protect whales.
The issue is of even greater importance as Japan pushes to end the moratorium on whaling even as they continue their all out assault on whales around the world in what critics have called an illegal whaling operation trying to hide behind the farce of scientific research. Norway and Iceland too have been pushing to get past the whaling ban for unrestricted hunting in international waters to spite outrage from the International community.
The Obama Administration has yet to take an official position on the whaling issue and Japan's petition to end the IWC's ban but Senator Kerry and others are hoping that getting this bill in place will give the United States a firmer ground to stand on and show the President that the American people want him to hold firm against whaling when the US attends the IWC meeting in Morocco this June and to show the world that United States is ready to lead the way in taking serious steps to protect whales who are struggling to survive in an already fragile ecosystem.
The IWC was originally formed after many species of whales were driven to the brink of extinction, including the Right Whale (so named because it was deemed the “right” whale to hunt). The gentle nature, highly socialized society, and abundant intelligence of whales make their conservation a particularly important issue for millions of people not only in the US but around the world. Should the IWC fail to hold firm to the whaling ban, they will be failing at the very job for which the IWC was originally formed-- the job of protecting whales.