Senator John Kerry Receives "Profiles in Compassion" Award For Supporting Animal Welfare

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has announced Senator John Kerry (D-MA) as the latest recipient of its "Profiles in Compassion" award, recognizing his strong commitment to protecting animals and their habitats. One of the few members of the US Senate to rate a perfect 100 percent on AWI's Compassion Index, Senator Kerry recently introduced S. Con. Res. 86, a resolution that calls on the Bush Administration to stand up for whales at the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting to be held in Chile later this month.

"In the face of increasing pressure from pro-whaling nations, the US must reclaim its historic position as a leader in whale conservation and support the moratorium on commercial whaling. The time is running short to protect the world's dwindling whale populations," said Senator Kerry, who has been actively working on the whaling issue for years. In February, he was co-host with House Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall of a Save the Whales Again! press conference featuring actress Hayden Panettiere.

The United States is the current chair of the IWC, the international body founded over 60 years ago to be responsible for the conservation of whales. Since that time, a ban on commercial whaling has been instituted, two sanctuaries have been established, and attitudes toward whale conservation have improved. However, Japan, Norway and Iceland have flouted the whaling ban and continue to whale for commercial gain by exploiting loopholes in the IWC Convention. Under the moratorium, these countries have killed more than 25,000 whales, including over 11,000 who were taken under the guise of "scientific research." Norway and Iceland have also resumed the trade in whale meat with Japan, in flagrant defiance of an international ban on such trafficking.

Although the United States was an outspoken proponent of protecting the whales, most recently, US officials have not exercised their leadership position. The whaling ban is now in jeopardy, since the pro-whaling faction has recruited allied nations to join the IWC and convince fellow members that the body is unworkable and at an impasse. Once pro-conservation countries are now on the brink of capitulation and are in desperate need of leadership.

Instead of steering the IWC away from surrendering, the United States is rumored to have initiated deals with the whalers to facilitate a resumption of whaling. Having led international efforts in the IWC to adopt the ban on commercial whaling two decades ago, AWI believes that the United States must stop capitulating to whalers, heed the US Congress, and act now before it is too late.

"Acknowledging the need for strong leadership on the issue of whaling, Senator Kerry's resolution sends the message that the United States must not be bullied into submission by pro-whaling interests," said Chris Heyde, AWI's deputy director of government and legal affairs. "AWI commends Senator Kerry for his strong stance against whaling, as well as his support for other important animal protection measures, including an end to horse slaughter and dog fighting."

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Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142

For over 57 years, the Animal Welfare Institute has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. To learn more about us, please visit www.awionline.org.