Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chamber of Deputies Approves Chile Whale Sanctuary

[December 10, 2007] The Chamber of Deputies on Friday voted unanimously to preserve Chile's territorial waters as a whale sanctuary. With the creation of the whale sanctuary, all whale hunting will be prohibited in all of Chile’s waters.

The proposal, first sent to President Michelle Bachelet in a letter, was presented to the government last Monday (ST, Dec. 4). It now waits to be passed in the Senate.

The deputies' legislation included the Antarctic and islands zones in the most southern part of Chile as part of the whale sanctuary. The measure’s chief sponsor, Dep. Enrique Accorsi (PPD), said the deputies want to include this region in the whale sanctuary because it is an important refugee for Chile's migratory whale population. “No one should be allowed to assassinate whales in this region under any excuse,” he said.

The initiative, first put forth in October, is backed by more than 90 conservation and tourism organizations in Chile and abroad. It was spearheaded by Chile's Cetacean Conservation Center (CCC) with the support of Chile's National Confederation of Artesanal Fishermen (CONAPACH).

The whale sanctuary initiative has taken on greater urgency in light of Japan’s recently announced whaling expedition in the Antarctic, Australia and New Zealand. Not withstanding Japan's claim that “scientific research” is the reason for the whale hunt, much of their catch is sold in the marketplace. Accorsi spoke out about the Japanese on Friday.

“With this deception, the Japanese government is concealing a cruel profit from a likewise cruel market which, inevitably, will become extinct,” he said. Accorsi expressed his hope that the disappearance of whales is not inevitable.

Here is the full article.