For the past 7 years, I’ve been the spokesperson for The Whaleman Foundation and our Save the Whales Again! Campaign, whose mission is to forever preserve and protect dolphins, whales, and our oceans.
And while being led on this journey by Whaleman’s founder, Jeff Pantukhoff, who is here with me today, I’ve witnessed first hand some amazing things like being eye to eye with wild dolphins and pilot whales and also some horrific things including the slaughter of these majestic animals in Taiji Japan.
About 3 years ago, Jeff and I had the great privilege of meeting President Obama for the first time at American University right here in DC while he was on the campaign trail. Let’s just say he made quite the first impression on me and he showed great interest and concern for the issues I was so passionate about. He told me that some of his fondest childhood memories growing up in Hawaii were when he was swimming in the ocean and seeing its wondrous creatures up-close and personal including dolphins and whales. The President told me that he and dolphins and whales were like this (I’m motioning with 2 fingers to my eyes and then away), and that he was aware of the problems and if he were elected, he promised me he would do something about it.
In a meeting in the West Wing of the White House with the President’s chief environmental policy advisor, Nancy Sutley, and several other officials from the Administration, I personally thanked and applauded President Obama for taking action today against Iceland’s illegal slaughter of fin and minke whales which is in direct violation of the commercial whaling moratorium.
Millions of U.S. citizens, including myself, have written or emailed the President and his Administration supporting these actions under the Pelly Amendment. I am grateful that the President and our government have listened and will be raising this issue with Iceland at the highest levels. They will continue to monitor the companies involved, and examine all other options available to us.
These include the diplomatic sanctions just announced here today which authorize the State Department to examine Arctic cooperation projects, and where appropriate, link US cooperation to the Icelandic government changing its whaling policy and abiding by the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling. It also calls for Iceland to cease its commercial whaling activities.
It has been the policy of the United States to support the conservation of the world’s whale populations through science based policies and leadership within the International Whaling Commission. Just recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who leads the US delegation to the International Whaling Commission, signed a “sister sanctuary” agreement with France to support the protection of endangered humpback whales and they are currently working with Bermuda to declare a sister humpback whale sanctuary there as well.
Also, at the 2010 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, The US delegation, at the request of our organization, The Whaleman Foundation, introduced a 5 year study by Dr. Roger Payne and Dr. John Wise that showed how toxins and pollutants are being dispersed through out the world’s oceans and up the food chain. It outlined how these pollutants are not only a serious health threat to marine life, including apex predators like dolphins and whales, but also pose serious health threats to humans as well.
By protecting marine life and our oceans, ultimately we are protecting ourselves. President Obama recognizes this and has repeatedly supported innovative and conservation-minded efforts, not only at the International Whaling Commission, but with the unprecedented forward thinking demonstrated in his National Ocean Policy.
I’d also like to personally thank all of you who signed petitions and wrote the President asking him to take action against Iceland. I also want you to know that we have asked that the President and his administration take similar action against Japan and Norway as well and we will continue to pressure our government until they take action to stop all commercial whaling. Remember, it’s our future and the time for us to make a stand is now! Its time to Save the Whales Again!!
Hayden Panettiere International Spokesperson The Whaleman Foundation & Save the Whales Again! Campaign
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