WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a resolution Tuesday calling on President George W. Bush to take strong action to stop whaling by Japan and Norway.
“The president should use all available diplomatic channels to convey the United States’ opposition to commercial whaling activities and lethal scientific whaling,” the resolution by House of Representatives members said.
The U.S. should strongly oppose any effort to approve the resumption of commercial whaling at the 53rd meeting of the International Whaling Commission in London next month, it said.
The resolution also calls on the president to consider all other actions, including bilateral negotiations and sanctions, to eliminate all commercial and lethal scientific whaling and prevent any trade in whale meat.
The lawmakers, including George Miller, a Democrat from California, and Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, presented the resolution prior to the meeting between Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the presidential retreat of Camp David in Maryland on Saturday.
“I am deeply troubled by Japan’s persistent efforts to defy world opinion and expand whaling operations under the pretense of ‘scientific’ research, and by Norway’s recent announcement to begin trading in whale products despite prohibitions of the products by the (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species),” Miller said in a statement.
Japan, which abandoned commercial whaling entirely in 1988 in compliance with an international moratorium, turned to research whaling the following year under rules set by the IWC.
Conservationists call Japan’s research whaling a cover for commercial whaling, maintaining that whale meat, considered a delicacy in Japan, ends up on Japanese tables.
Japan decided in September to include in its research whaling program two more whale species that are protected under U.S. law.
Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 and recently announced the resumption of whale meat exports.
According to survey results released Tuesday by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, more than 80 percent of U.S. voters oppose whaling by Japan and Norway.
The survey, conducted by Republican pollster Fred Steeper of Market Strategies Inc. on behalf of the IFAW, shows 60 percent of respondents strongly oppose whaling while 23 percent somewhat oppose the practice.
Those who somewhat support whaling accounted for 12 percent, while those strongly supporting it came to only 2 percent.
According to the survey, 72 percent of respondents would be willing to boycott products made by Japanese or Norwegian firms if they learned of their business involvement with commercial whaling.
Twenty-three percent said they would not be willing to boycott products on those grounds, the survey says.
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