Junior Whaling Commission Planned
School children are to take part in a unique junior version of the international forum that meets annually to decide the fate of the world´s whales.

As officials from Governments around the world gathered in Rome earlier this month for a special meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), 13 to 15-year-olds from across the UK are invited to tackle the whaling debate themselves.
Photos courtesy of: Mark Votier and Duncan Murrell
Delegations from 12 schools at a two-day Junior Whaling Commission at the London Aquarium on 20th and 21st May 2009, will consider the same issues facing the IWC, whose annual meeting will take place just weeks later in Medeira.

Organised by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in conjunction with the network of SEA LIFE centres, both parties hope it will help prevent the return of legal whaling.
Photos courtesy of: Mark Votier and Duncan Murrell ″There is a fear that many IWC member countries could cave in to pressure from the big whaling nations and vote for the long-standing ban on commercial whaling to be ended,″ said WDCS Chief Executive Chris Butler-Stroud.

″Several Governments are frustrated that Japan and others carry on whaling regardless of the ban,″ he added.
″Threatened by the recent escalation of whaling outside the control of the IWC, countries may be persuaded to legalise hunts again - to bring all operations back under the IWC´s control″ he added.

School classes selected to represent each of 12 different UK SEA LIFE centres will be assigned research projects to examine the same scientific factors that will be debated by IWC committees in the run up to the Madeira conference.

Topics will include the impact on whales of climate change, by-catch and noise pollution plus the so-called ´scientific´ whaling pursued by Japan and Norway.

After presenting their findings the children will be helped by WDCS´s International Director of Science, Mark Simmonds and long-standing member of the IWC´s scientific committee, to debate the issues and put forward their own resolutions to be voted on by everyone present.

Rob Hicks, a senior marine biologist with the SEA LIFE centres, said many people were unaware that in spite of an IWC agreement in 1986 to suspend commercial whaling, whales are still hunted on a significant scale

″While the vast majority of people share our view that whaling is inhumane, not all the delegates to the IWC feel obliged to reflect that view when they vote,″ he added.

″We hope that this joint-initiative will help raise awareness of the threat of a resumption of commercial whaling and prompt people to make sure their own governments resist any such move.″

The eight German SEA LIFE centres will host a similar event with the help of WDCS´s German representatives in Berlin.

The Junior Whaling Commissions are one of several initiatives SEA LIFE and WDCS will launch this year to try and keep our seas free of whalers.

″If the pro-whaling interests get their way the world´s oceans could soon be opened up to a bloody and cruel slaughter that should have been consigned to history,″ said Chris Butler-Stroud.

SEA LIFE Centres are appealing for 13 to 15-year-olds, their parents or their teachers to write to their nearest centres and nominate schools to take part.

Selected school classes will each be assigned a research project and a delegation of four pupils plus a teacher from each invited to the event in London.

Photos courtesy of: Mark Votier and Duncan Murrell.
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Date: 23rd March 2009