March 16, 2010

Kerry Introduces Whale Protection Bill

United States Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) has introduced a new bill that would reaffirm the country's support of a ban on commercial whaling and fund research to help protect various species of the oceanic mammals from harm.

"Thousands of whales die each year from commercial whaling, ship strikes, and habitat disruption," said Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to a March 15 AFP article. "We should be leading the effort to protect them."

In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling. However, the IWC meets again in June, and is reportedly considering a proposal that would permit whales to be openly hunted in Japan, Norway and Iceland, but would reduce the number that the nations could catch yearly over the next decade.

U.S. President Barack Obama has not publicly announced his stance on the IWC proposal, citing the need for evidence that it would result in fewer whale deaths.

According to a press statement posted to Kerry's senate.gov website, the bill, dubbed the International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2010, would "promote international protection efforts in whales' natural habitats" as well as "strengthen international organizations' efforts, including the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the International Maritime Organization."

The proposed legislation would also "ensure the IWC commercial whaling ban is protected; reduce or eliminate human-caused injury, harassment, or disturbance; and expand research to improve global understanding of whales including health and reproduction, whale habitats and the impacts of human activities and other threats to whales," the media advisory claims.

Kerry, 66, assumed his senate seat in 1985 and became the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2009. He was the Democratic nominee for President in 2004, but ultimately lost his bid for election to George W. Bush.


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