An anti-whaling protest by more than 180,000 people from 11 different countries was taken to the heart of the EU yesterday morning.
Thousands of postcards filled in by visitors to Weymouth Sea Life Park calling for an end to whaling were among those delivered to European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, in Brussels.
School children from the little town of Dudzele near Brugge (Belgium) delivered the postcards in mail sacks bearing 11 different national flags representing the nations concerned.
The handover is timely as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) votes this week on a proposal to lift the current 24 year long ban on commercial whaling.
The proposal was feared all the more likely to succeed because of a farcical EU voting system that forced the EU Member States to abstain on the issue of whaling unless they are unanimous, rather than allowing the vast majority to vote against it.
However, pressure on the EU to rectify this situation in recent days has resulted in an agreed EU position to phase out whaling albeit in an unspecified time frame.
The postcard petition was initiated by Sea Life and its campaign partner, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), and has been run throughout Sea Life Centres across Europe and in the US.
“Now it is the turn of the European Union to take a clear position against whaling”, said Chris Butler-Stroud, WDCS chief executive.
“This petition proves that Europe’s citizens are strongly opposed to whaling, as are many individual EU Member States, but the European Union, as a block, has failed to stand strong against moves to bring back commercial whaling in recent months.
“Indeed, the EU’s dithering may well help commercial whaling return. This is appalling and not in the interests of whales or the peoples of Europe.”
Sea Life’s Senior Marine Biologist Rob Hicks said he was delighted that so many people had signed up in support of efforts to end whaling.
“We really hope EU ministers will heed their wishes and take the important step of blocking this latest move to get whaling legalised,” he said.
“There is no humane way to kill a whale, no sustainable market for whale meat and no ethical justification for continuing to butcher these magnificent animals.”