IUCN’s members voted in favour of a resolution on whale conservation which called for the promotion of non-lethal use of whales through responsible whale watching.
The resolution calls on governments, IUCN members and other relevant organizations to strengthen their cetacean management and conservation strategies, and consider extending or designating marine protected areas and sanctuaries.
Responsible whale watching, when carried out in compliance with species protection and conservation standards, can contribute to the sustainable survival of whales. Whale watching is also seen as a way of generating more economic and social benefits to communities and countries then commercial whaling.
More than 500 communities worldwide benefit from whale watching activities, an activity that generates more than US$1 billion of direct income every year.
A heated debate on this resolution took place on Saturday, 11 October, in Barcelona. Issues such as whether the resolution was referring to existing or new sanctuaries were discussed.
Governments of States engaged in whale fishing claim that they are not engaging in “commercial fishing” but “scientific fishing”. The resolution on whale conservation will have strong implications on whaling research programmes.
It was further noted that the resolution should not focus on the International Whaling Commission, but instead on what IUCN can do to effectively contribute to the conservation of whale species.
A consensus was finally reached and the motion was put forward for voting and approved Monday, 13 October, 2008.