Freshly inaugurated President Barack Obama has a new White House page detailing a huge range of his policies. So, what happens if we search for “whaling” in the Energy and Environment Policy section?
No results for ‘whaling’. But, the webpage helpfully asks: “Did you mean ‘dealing’?”.
It’s a pretty appropriate response given the wheeling and dealing going on with whaling at the moment. The Washington Post first broke the story on Sunday. Closed-door talks between 6 nations (Australia, the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Brazil) were being held to nut out a deal on the whaling issue.
This was followed with news that Australia was right in the thick of the discussions – as it should be – but that one proposal included trading whales in the Southern Ocean for whales in the North Pacific. All of this has occured in the past 6 months or so with Bill Hogarth as chair of the International Whaling Commission. Hogarth was appointed by former President George W Bush.
President Obama does have a policy position on whaling. Before last November’s election, Greenpeace USA asked him: “If you are elected President, what concrete steps will you take to convince Japan to stop whaling?”
Obama replied: “As president, I will ensure that the US provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.”
Obviously, Obama wasn’t thinking that whaling would be the first key environmental issue to deal with as President. Will Obama’s first environmental accomplishment be an end to whaling?