A proposal to declare a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean has been defeated at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting.

Today, in the enlightened, internetted 21st century, whaling should be the simplest goddam conservation issue out there. We’ve killed too many of them, they’re endangered, and people love them. Ipso facto, we shouldn’t kill them anymore. Right? There’s the public support, the scientific urgings, and the financial incentives—whale-watching is a big booming industry. Plus, nobody really likes whale meat anyway, and nobody uses whale oil anymore.

So let’s just stop harpooning the lovable blubbery bastards, right? Open and shut? Nope. Of course not. Yet another effort to protect whales has crashed and burned at the International Whaling Commission meeting; a proposal was made to turn the Southern Atlantic into a giant whaling sanctuary. Nations like Brazil and Argentina, both of which have thriving whale-watching industries, were totally behind it. So were more than 35 other countries.

Unfortunately, 21 nations weren’t, and voted not to protect whales. The BBC reports:

Latin American countries argued that declaring a sanctuary would help whale conservation and whale-watching. The bid gained more than half of the votes but fell short of the three-quarters majority needed to pass …

The proposal covered almost the entire Atlantic Ocean south of the Equator, from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of South America. It would have joined up with the two existing whale sanctuaries approved by the IWC, in the Southern and Indian Oceans.

This stuff is frustrating in a radically different way than something like climate change is; a major, multifaceted plight that seeps into every aspect of our daily lives. Nothing is more infuriating than world leaders’ continued inaction on climate change, but the enormity of the problem at least makes the chaos understandable. If we can’t rally to protect effing endangered whales (while of course respectfully preserving the right of limited catch for indigenous populations who subsist on them) then there’s little hope, frankly, that we can protect much of anything at all.


Photograph by Christopher Swann

Responses to "21 Nations Block Effort to Turn Southern Atlantic Into a Giant Whale Sanctuary"

  1. Laurel says:

    this is absolute bullshit.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is their bloody problem???

  3. Anonymous says:

    International Whaling Commission is controled by Japan, got it ? :(

  4. Anonymous says:

    You should have listed the countries who opposed it. Japan, obviously, but who else?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Lets have a list of those 21 and shame them I say. I think this is appalling and a betrayel. Don't they realise the more species of animals and mammels they kill effects the planet as a whole.....I am so angry and appalled this is total crap

  6. Laurie says:

    I agree...list those countries who opposed so that I can boycott them and tell my friends and family to do the same.


  8. Anonymous says:

    The countries that blocked the sanctuary were: Tanzania, Togo, Tuvalu, Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Granada, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Norway, Palau, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia.

  9. Anonymous says:

    just so very sad that they can not see with their heart

  10. Anonymous says:

    This just makes me sick, these people just "don't get it" :(

  11. Anonymous says:

    Caribbean nations (Antigua Barbuda), What a disgrace ! Please get your shit together & WTFU before its too late for us all.

  12. Eileen says:

    I become so frustrated and feel so powerless. We are careening out of control. Decisions made are never in line with what the majority of people want.

  13. Debra says:

    Sad to read this. But I think if enough of us continue to raise awareness, we can make a difference. Hopefully before it's not too late...... thanks.

  14. Corey says:

    The sad truth is, even with all the awareness out there; there will always be people who just don't give a damn, And that makes my heart sad.
    I'm sure the reason for this not passing is Money; weather it be these countries will lose some or have to spend some, because that's all they care about, and greed will never go away - These magnificent mammals as well as a ton of others in our world are not only up against an ever changing environment, but up against greed. Makes me so sad.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There are alot of people who won't buy anything Japanese, due to the lie of Scientific Whaling purposes. So please list the 21 countries as asked by someone previously. Pleeease, then we can be sure who has Heart and Soul and who doesn't.
    With soo soo many extinct animals and insects already gone, lets hope this Whale Sanctuary changes to save some Whales.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is just sick. Nothing is sacred anymore. No living thing on earth is safe from the greed of humans. Not even the humans.

  17. Anonymous says:


  18. Bogey says:

    WTF! most on the list of 21 are not even traditional whaling nations... Tanzania, Togo, Tuvalu, Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Kiribati, Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia.

    Have they been bought????

  19. Anonymous says:

    So...which nations voted against preservation?(none right?, because the vote wasn't about preservation of whales) A very carefully planned and executed political agenda to avoid being persecuted... to avoid any kind of morality or conscience,and negate inferences to volatile political environmental issue.So the vote was all about weather or not the South Atlantic should be a conservation area?
    we all know the reality, we are all aware of the outcome of apathy and indifference....What say you?
    21 nations-What a bunch of lame half witted dumb asses. A waste of skin as far as I am concerned.A leader of a Nation aught to at least bear resemblance to humanity,purvey their sentiments and wishes and have a bit of backbone.. hell there are more invertebrates on this planet, with more social conscience than these pseudo leaders. This is an unacceptable disgrace.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Who are these Latin American A-holes ? List 'em, leave 'em Boycott them !!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    The majority should rule right 35 to 21. So why did it not pass?
    There is 66% of the votes. Who deligates this and why with 21 votes should this not pass when 35 have spoken.???

  22. "nobody really likes whale meat" really? A team of chefs were one time sent to new york from norway. They set a barbeque in one of new yorks streets, where they grilled whale meat, and served it to people, without telling them what it is. They had over a hundred persons tasting the meat, and not one single one of them said anything negative about it, they loved it. But when they told them it was whale meat, they were disgusted. You simply can not use this as an argument against whaling. And besides, lots of people use whale oil, its used in al ost all kinds of soap, and its also being used as candles, the inuits use the fat for insulation in their clothes, aswell as for food., wtihout whaling the inuits would have died out. Now im not saying we should not protect the whales, we have gone too far, but we should have some sanctuarys, and some areas, where it is allowed to hunt whale. This way we can keep up the number of whales, but still enjoy delicious whale meat, and hte inuits can still use it as an reliable, and natural source. When you look at he list af counties voting against the sanctuary, you see two very rich countries, an several poor countrys. The two rich countries are norway and japan, and i think most of you will understand what is going on here, there have been some accusations agains japan. I would like to finish off with admitting that i am proud of eating whale meat, i dont think its morally wrong to hunt whales, but i agree in the matter that we have to make a sanctuary.

  23. BevK says:

    I really can't believe that the nays won! In today's world we all realize that whales are going to become extinct if we don't stop the senseless hunting and then what will these idiotic nations do then...there won't be any more whales!!!! Sheesh, do we have to lose all of them for the world to wake up and protect them????? The whole thing makes me sick.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Money talks. Do not travel to the countries that voted against this.
    I was planning a safari to Tanzania. Not anymore. I will go elswhere in Africa and spend my money.

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