The sanctuary would be created and enforced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), of which Tanzania is a member. This is the Commission’s second attempt to pass the proposal.
Tanzania voted against the South Atlantic proposal in 2012, a move Greenpeace considers both surprising and disappointing given the country’s economic reliance on wildlife tourism. In its letter to Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the organization points out that Tanzania has over 40 whale watching boats in operation in the Indian Ocean, which has been an IWC-sanctioned whale sanctuary since 1979.
Greenpeace writes, “We believe that Tanzania has no interest in hunting whales and that live whales already contribute more to Tanzania’s economy than hunting whales ever could.”
Both the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean around Antarctica have been designated as whale sanctuaries by the IWC. Combined with a moratorium on commercial whaling (which came into effect in 1986), the Commission has sought to revive those whale species hunted nearly to extinction. These measures have been opposed by countries such as Iceland and Norway, which reject the moratorium, as well as Japan, which continues to hunt under a legal clause that allows whaling “for scientific and research purposes.”
Japan is pressuring countries to oppose the South Atlantic proposal, but just one more vote would be enough to push it through. Greenpeace believes Tanzania should cast that vote.
You can ask Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete to support the South Atlantic Sanctuary proposal by clicking here and filling out the Greenpeace form.