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Global anti-whaling campaign launched -
‘Troubled Waters’, a new report, with foreword by Sir David Attenborough, exposes the cruelty behind whaling.

9th Match 2004

A new report, ‘Troubled Waters’, is released today, 9th March 2004, to mark the launch of a global campaign against whaling. Key scientific and practical evidence is brought together for the first time to highlight the true extent of the cruelty inherent in the modern day killing of whales.

More than 1,400 whales are expected to die this year alone.

In his foreword, naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough describes how the report contains “…hard scientific evidence that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.” An unprecedented coalition of over 140 non-governmental organisations in more than 55 countries is taking part in the ‘Whalewatch’ campaign. It is lobbying the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to call a halt to all commercial and scientific whaling operations, maintain the current ban on commercial whaling and bring the issue of cruelty back to the fore.

Peter Davies, Director General of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), one of the leading groups in the coalition, said, “The cruelty behind whaling has become obscured in recent years by abstract arguments over population statistics. The fact is that, whether it is one whale or a thousand, whaling is simply wrong on cruelty grounds alone.”

Although commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, over 20,000 whales have been killed since the ban came into force.

The technology used for killing whales has altered little since the 19th century, when the grenade tipped harpoon was invented. In the constantly moving environment in which whales live and are hunted, there are inherent difficulties in achieving a quick clean kill. Despite its destructive power, the harpoon often fails to kill outright and some whales take over an hour to die.

The difficulties in hitting a whale with any degree of accuracy can be seen in the margin for human error. For instance, despite similar killing methods being used during whale hunts in 2002/3, Norway reported that around 20% of whales failed to die instantaneously, whilst Japan reported a far higher figure of almost 60% that were not killed outright. Current tests to determine the moment of death in a whale are inadequate.

The question remains whether whales may in fact still be alive long after having been judged to be dead.

The full extent of their suffering is yet to be scientifically evaluated.

"Troubled Waters" A review of the welfare implications of modern whaling activities
WSPA_09March2004 ~ (pdf 1.46MB)

Broadcast quality footage, colour photographs, copies of the report and interviews available on request.

Please contact:
Jonathan Owen/Debra Ashton,
WSPA, 0207 587 5000;

Georgina Davies,
WDCS, 01249 449509;

RSPCA Press Office, 0870 754 0244/288