---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 04:35:02 EDT
Subject: BRITISH GROUP WINS REPRIEVE FOR GRAY WHALES
BRITISH GROUP WINS REPRIEVE FOR GRAY WHALES
US APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS MAKAH WHALING RULING
A United States federal appeals court overturned the ruling that allowed
Washington State's Makah Indians to re-start killing whales. The Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the Yorkshire based Breach Marine
Protection (BMP) and other plaintiffs, holding that the National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS) violated environmental laws in its rush to grant the
Makah the ability to kill whales. In 1999, the Makah killed a female baby
Gray whale under this US government authorisation.
"Can the Federal Defendants now be trusted to take the clear-eyed hard look
at the whaling proposal's consequences required by law, or will a new EA
(Environmental Assessment) be a classic Wonderland case of first-the-verdict,
then-the-trial?" the Court asked.
"This is a major victory for the whales!" said David Smith, BMP's Campaigns
Director. "The ruling is justification for four years of work and many
thousands of pounds spent. It has been a long, hard road through the US court
system, but justice has finally been done".
Initially, the maiming and slaughter of thirty four Eastern Pacific Gray
whales was at stake. But when a 'consensus' of Commissioners at the 40
country strong International Whaling Commission meeting (including the UK) in
1997 allowed the United States to claim they had IWC authorisation to kill
Gray whales, this set a new precedent for whaling world-wide.
"Anyone indigenous to an area that had a history of whaling could now claim
the same 'rights' as the Makah." Smith said in 1997. "It's called 'cultural'
whaling, the name for a loophole that nations looking to kill whales can
drive a coach and horses through. Here in Yorkshire they whaled from Hull and
Whitby; I'm indigenous to this area, shall I now claim a 'cultural right' to
slaughter whales in the North Sea?"
The global implication of Makah whaling that was one of the motivations which
took Breach Marine Protection 6,000 miles to courts in Washington State and
San Francisco. "Another was that none of the big, household name
'anti-whaling' groups were prepared to take up the issue in any meaningful
way" said a BMP spokesperson today. "A lot of groups made a big thing of this
issue in their newsletters but that's where it stopped. The likes of WWF,
Greenpeace and others saw this as a political hot potato that would burn the
fingers of their friendship with the almighty Americans".
Both these groups have already backed attempts by the US government to weaken
US "Dolphin-Safe" Tuna import laws. Indeed, a report to the NMFS, unearthed
under the US Freedom Of Information procedure whilst preparing the Appeal,
alleges that Greenpeace US actually sent a letter of support to the Makah.
Last year, Breach Marine Protection was banned from both IWC meeting and the
UK Whale Forum for a peaceful protest it undertook in support of Gray whales
at the IWC headquarters in Cambridge. Three requests were made by BMP, the
IWC was asked to:
a) place the Makah whaling issue on its agenda at Grenada (IWC meeting) in
b) the Commissioners take a clear, public, open and pressure free vote purely
on the USA Makah whaling proposal.
c) now that Gray whales have been killed by the Makah before the IWC meeting,
the IWC holds the USA Government fully responsible for undermining the IWC -
an international Convention - and the international community, and uses any
redress open to the Commissioners under to it International Law or by
applying IWC sanctions against the USA.
These very reasonable requests sought a democratic vote (something that
should have happened in 1997) of IWC Commissioners on one of the most
controversial issues the IWC has ever considered. But instead of democracy, a
behind-closed-doors meeting of IWC Commissioners acted as accusers, judge and
jury, allowing BMP no representation and banned it from IWC meetings. Later,
the UK Commissioner wrote to BMP also banning it from UK Whale Forum meetings
for the same peaceful protest.
"The United States Court proves that the US acted illegally by allowing the
Makah to kill whales. Breach Marine Protection acted to uphold the law by
demonstrating at the IWC headquarters, we will now be seeking reparation from
both the IWC and the British government for defamation brought on by their
bans" BMP said today.
For immediate release.
Note: the next IWC meeting opens in Adelaide, Australia on the 3rd. July.
3, St. John's Street, Goole, E. Yorkshire, DN14 5QL, UK
Tele: +44 (0)1405 769375
Fax: +44 (0)1405 769439
24hr.: 0973 898282
http://www.Breach.org: incl. the World-Wide Sign-On Petition in support of
the 'Peoples Resolution on the Abolition of Inhumane Commercial Slaughter of
Whales' (now with over 10,000,000 group sponsored and individual signatures!)
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