Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VI No. 2 April 1997


CSI Commends Clinton for Taking Action Against Canada over Bowhead Issue

by Dr. Robbins Barstow, CSI Director Emeritus


In our January issue, we urged members to write President Clinton at the White House asking him to take action against Canada for its defiance of the IWC in unilaterally authorizing the killing of two Bowhead whales by Inuits last summer. Many did write Clinton, and on February 10 the President did take significant action. The following is the text of the letter of commendation sent to Clinton on February 26 on behalf of CSI by CSI Director Emeritus Dr. Robbins Barstow, of Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Dear President Clinton:

The Cetacean Society International wishes to commend and thank you for the actions you have taken in addressing the problem of Canadian whaling.

Although your response to the Commerce Secretary's December 12, 1996, certification of Canada under the Pelly Amendment was limited, we believe that your recognition of the seriousness of the problem is very significant.

Our non-governmental whale conservation organization desires to have you and other United States officials know that we keenly appreciate and support the specific actions which you announced in your February 11, 1997, report to the Congress regarding Canadian whaling on endangered whales.

We applaud your categorical assertion that: "Canada's unilateral decision to authorize whaling outside of the IWC is unacceptable." We are pleased at your strong and specific reaffirmation that: "International law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, obligates countries to work through the appropriate international organization for the conservation and management of whales."

We are glad that you have instructed the Department of State to oppose "Canada's efforts to move whaling issues to fora other than the IWC," and particularly to oppose Canadian efforts to address takings of marine mammals and trade in marine mammal products within the newly formed Arctic Council.

We also believe that your instruction to the Department of Commerce, in implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to "withhold consideration of any Canadian requests for waivers to the existing moratorium on the importation of seals and/or seal products into the United States," may prove to be an effective form of leverage in seeking to persuade Canada to reconsider its unilateral decision making and to rejoin the International Whaling Commission. We plan to publicize these significant actions of yours in our Cetacean Society International Newsletter, and we also will continue to keep this situation under close review.

Meanwhile, as a token of our appreciation, we are taking the liberty of attaching to this letter a signed print of a Bowhead Whale drawing done by our society's past president, Donald Sineti, of Bloomfield, Connecticut. We thought you might like to see this visual representation of the "Monarch of the Sea" whose continued survival your actions are aimed at ensuring.

Nearly 20 years ago we sent a print of a Sineti Bowhead drawing to our friends among the Inupiat Eskimos at the North Slope Borough in Barrow, Alaska. They subsequently reproduced that drawing in the February 1978 issue of their "Arctic Coastal Zone Management Newsletter." (As a matter of historical interest, we are also enclosing a copy of that 1978 newsletter.)

Thank you again, Mr. President. Please keep pressing on the issue of preventing the diminishment of the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission. It is our indispensable global bulwark for whale protection.

Sincerely yours,
(signed)
Robbins Barstow (PhD), Director Emeritus, Cetacean Society International,
190 Stillwold Drive, Wethersfield, CT 06109

Copies to: Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Secretary of Commerce William Daley
NOAA Administrator Dr. D. James Baker
Senator Christopher J. Dodd
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
William W. Rossiter, CSI President
Donald Sineti, CSI Past President


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