Southern Atlantic Whale Sanctuary

May 16, 2008 | By More

Southern right whale / Ballena franca austral, Península Valdés

Brazil’s Greenpeace is running an online petition campaign, aimed at Brazilians, asking the Brazilian government to exercise the maximum diplomatic pressure to obtain the declaration of the Southern Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. In actual fact, it was Brazil who proposed the creation of the sanctuary back in 1999 – it had the backing of the governments of Argentina and South Africa. The sanctuary has not been created yet as the backing countries do not have enough votes at the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Whale sanctuaries are essential for the protection of endangered species. June will see a meeting of the IWC in Chile, where Brazil is expected to exercise its diplomatic muscle. The biggest obstacle comes from Africa; the vote of some African countries has been systematically bought by Japan, who vehemently opposes the creation of the sanctuary.

Puerto Pirámides, Península Valdés

Greenpeace wants to gather 10.000 signatures, that will be forwarded to the Brazilian government. The petition’s deadline is 26 May. Brazilians, you can join the campaign here.

Whales are unique animals that must be protected. The most evolved countries have understood that conservation and observation are the future – whale-hunting leads to a dead-end street. In Brazil, whale-watching is still in its infancy – it hasn’t evolved yet in the way whale-watching in Argentina and South Africa have. Whales can be seen in Santa Catarina (the same southern right whales that populate the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina between June and November) and near the Abrolhos archipelago, in the state of Bahia (where humpbacks gather).

Southern right whale / Ballena franca austral, Península Valdés

I learned about the campaing in the ever-excellent Faça sua Parte.

Whale-watching at the Valdes Peninsula in October 2007 was one of the most moving and intense experiences of our entire lives. I’ve got a Flickr album with pictures of whales taken during that trip.

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