WWF Insider: Saving the Great Whales

A minute a day to save wildlife

The next 1 minute will tell you if the world is doing enough for our wildlife.

An Antarctic minke whale in the Antarctic Peninsula.
© WWF-Australia / Chris Johnson

You probably don’t know this but every day this week, the fates of endangered wildlife will be decided.

Here, our bite-sized pictorial updates about wildlife (ICYMI: check out our previous #WWFInsider in 1 Minute here) as we take you through the 70th CITES Standing Committee (1-5 Oct) which also leads up to London Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference (11-12 Oct).

CITES, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is supported by the United Nations.

A sei whale calf diving underwater in the North Pacific. Countries like Japan, Norway and Iceland kill around 1,500 whales every year.
© naturepl.com / Doug Perrine / WWF

Commercial whaling: Biggest threat to the endangered sei whale 

A whale meat stand at the touristy Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan. 50 sei whales are killed every year by Japanese whalers.
© Michel Gunther / WWF
WWF-Australia has provided funding for three ‘whale cams’ to help scientists better understand critical feeding areas in the Southern Ocean.
© WWF-Australia / Chris Johnson
For the first time ever in world history, scientists in Antarctica have deployed the first camera tag on a minke.
All great whales, including the humpback whale (above), receive the highest levels of protection from international trade through a listing on CITES Appendix I. It is strictly illegal to take them from international waters for commercial trade.
© WWF-Australia / Chris Johnson

How does an international body for wildlife trade like CITES help in whale protection?

In the past, an international law permits country governments to issue “research permits” for whales because killing whales was the only way to obtain research knowledge.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF
Today, Japan has been flagged by CITES for violating international laws on sei whales.
© John Dudeny / WWF-Australia
Disturbing outcome: Even though this issue has been flagged for Parties for 15 years, the 70th CITES Standing Committee deferred any action until May 2019.
© naturepl.com / Doug Perrine / WWF

What’s next? 

Leigh Henry, Wildlife Policy Director, WWF-US said, “Japan has been conducting so-called “scientific” whaling for years, landing thousands of tons of whale meat and actively marketing the products.”
© Michel Gunther / WWF
Japan now has to stop issuing permits, whaling ships from sailing and most importantly, submit a compliance plan to CITES by February 2019.
© James Frankham / WWF

Want to know more? Find out how WWF supports the International Whaling Commission to reduce threats to whale here

Stay tuned to this space for more 1-min updates on global developments in wildlife protection.

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