Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Ban on commercial whaling

Delivered in Plenary - 17th June 2010

Madam President

Throughout my career as a Member of this House I have been a staunch defender of animal welfare. I have no enthusiasm for whaling, and I would like to see the moratorium on commercial whaling retained for as long as the species, or some of the species, are endangered.

However, I recognise that for some European countries including Denmark and Iceland – and Iceland is hoping to be a candidate to join our Union shortly – whaling is so much more than a mere commercial activity. It is central to these countries’ identity, culture and heritage. Bull-fighting continues lawfully in the European Union, and this is a so-called sport. At least no one can say that whaling is pursued as a sport.

If whaling is to resume officially, or continue for scientific research or so-called scientific research outside of the moratorium, we should at least insist on strict regulation and on the type of whale being hunted, because obviously some are more abundant in the oceans than others, and catch limits must be strictly enforced. We must also insist on whaling vessels using more rapid, more humane and efficient ways of killing that minimise the distress of these magnificent cetaceans.

As a member of a reformist group, the ECR, I am inclined to respect the right of sovereign states to hunt whales for food, although this should not prevent me and others who care about animal welfare from lobbying those countries to stop it.