From: mike williamson (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 15:47:59 EDT



In a letter sent today to all International Whaling Commission (IWC) members,
the UK based anti-whaling group Breach Marine Protection has accused the IWC
of 'illegal complicity' when it considered a proposal put before it at a
meeting in 1997.

At that meeting, the United States of America made a backdoor deal with the
Russian Federation which would allow U.S. citizens to slaughter and maim 34
Eastern Pacific Gray whales. The U.S. traded Bowhead whales from Alaskan
Inuits for Gray whales applied for by the Russian Chukotka peoples. The U.S.
then tried to obtain IWC approval for the move, which was accepted by some
nations under a "consensus." But all this time, the United States knew it had
broken its own domestic laws when it made an agreement with the Makah Indian
Tribe to kill these whales!

Breach Marine Protection and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 1997 in a
Federal Court alleging that the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the Director of
National Marine Fisheries Service and the Administrator of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had violated the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On June 9, 2000, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals handed down a ruling which agreed with these allegations.

Their majority ruling states: "Thus, the issue we must decide here is whether
the Federal Defendants prepared the EA (Environmental Assessment) too late in
the decision making process, i.e., after making an irreversible and
irretrievable commitment of resources. We conclude that they did." "..... the
Federal Defendants failed to take a "hard look" at the environmental
consequences of their actions and, therefore, violated NEPA."

BMP's Campaigns Director David Smith said today "In truth, the United States
brought a whaling proposal to the IWC that was clearly illegal. Having been
notified of our lawsuit before the start of the 1997 meeting, IWC
Commissioners were well aware this could be the case, yet willingly went
ahead with discussions about this U.S. proposal and indeed, reportedly
formed a consensus around it. We believe in doing so, the IWC has aided and
abetted this illegal act."

"The IWC must now, as a matter of great urgency, make it clear to the United
States that any agreements previously made in connection with their Makah
whaling debacle have been dishonoured and are therefore rendered invalid, and
any consensus previously agreed is now null and void." said Smith. "In
addition, the United State's killing of a gray whale in May 1999 must be
judged as an illegal infraction by the IWC, and severe penalties extracted
from the U.S. accordingly."

Also, in 1999, Breach Marine Protection had its IWC observer status removed
by a Commissioner's vote and was effectively banned from IWC meetings. The
reason was a peaceful protest at the IWC headquarters in Cambridge,
undertaken by whale advocates in support of the Gray whales. Three requests
were made by BMP at the time; the IWC was asked to:-

a) place the Makah whaling issue on its agenda, in isolation, b) the
Commissioners take a clear, public, open and pressure free vote purely on the
U.S. Makah whaling proposal. c) because of the illegal killing of a sub-adult
Gray whale by the Makah, the IWC hold the U.S. Government fully responsible
for undermining the IWC and apply IWC sanctions against the U.S.

These requests sought a democratic vote of the 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 banning the
group from IWC meetings.

"The United States Court ruling proves that the U.S., with IWC complicity,
acted illegally by allowing the Makah to kill whales. European Citizens are
legally entitled to take action in defence of the law, and have the right to
non-violent protest and freedom of speech. The whale advocates acted to
uphold the law by demonstrating at the IWC headquarters. The Commissioners
who voted to ban BMP were both morally and legally wrong to do so, therefore
BMP hereby formally seeks reparation from the IWC for defamation brought on
by the Commissioner's decision. Atonement is also sought for the violent
actions of an IWC employee against these whale advocates." a Breach Marine
Protection spokesperson said today.

For immediate release.

Note: the next IWC meeting opens in Adelaide, Australia on the 3rd. July.

More, contact:

David Smith
0973 898282

3, St. John's Street, Goole, E. Yorkshire, DN14 5QL, UK
Tele: +44 (0)1405 769375
Fax: +44 (0)1405 769439
24hr.: 0973 898282
e-mail: 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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