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Commercial Activity Still Presents a Serious Threat to Many Whale Species

This week in London, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets to discuss a range of issues¿among them Iceland's application to rejoin the group, and Norway and Japan's whaling practices, which completely ignore a moratorium on commercial whaling that the IWC issued in 1986. To help fuel these conversations, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has recently released several provocative reports.

Last week, the IFAW announced that new DNA research they commissioned reveals that Japanese food markets are selling meat from protected species of whale, proving that Japanese whalers are disregarding international conventions. IFAW-funded researchers purchased 129 samples of meat from whale markets for analysis and discovered that two were humpbacks, five were fin whale, one was sei whale, two were beaked whales, 14 were dolphin and one was horse.

In another release, the IFAW alleged that Japan and Norway¿countries that each hunt more than 1,000 whales per year¿now plan to expand their efforts. The organization used pollster Fred Steeper of Market Strategies, Inc. to gage attitudes in the U.S. and found that majorities of Americans are concerned about Japanese and Norwegian whaling. As a countermeasure to the threat of continued commercial whaling, the IWC is also expected to vote this week on a proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific.

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