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Visnjic: Congress Must Support Whale Conservation

Across the world, much is being made about the current deal by the International Whaling Commission to suspend the commercial whaling moratorium. Drafted during closed-door negotiations, the deal would undermine hard-won conservation measures, putting whales, once again, in the line of fire.

[IMGCAP(1)]How can a body that was designed to regulate this inhumane practice, now sanction it after all these years? How can a government, committed to making significant conservation advancements, agree to this deal? And how can we trust that these countries that have acted in bad faith under the moratorium will now act in accordance with these proposed regulations?

I have always admired the United States’ defense of wildlife. For decades, the U.S. government has built a profound legacy as a conservation leader. As the issue reaches Washington, D.C., there should be only one answer from President Barack Obama — no.

The American people don’t want this deal. Almost 80 percent of Americans strongly oppose the resumption of commercial whaling. Conservatives, liberals and independents alike reject the notion that whales should be killed for profit.

Instead, the government should be looking to advance policies consistent with the will of the people. Legislation introduced by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) in the Senate and Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dels. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) in the House, seeks to renew America’s commitment to whale conservation and reassert U.S. leadership, especially within the IWC, to promote international efforts to conserve and protect the world’s whales throughout their range and to ensure the worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling is neither lifted nor weakened.

I am honored to participate, alongside recognized conservationists and scientists, in briefings in the House and Senate to discuss the IWC, this important legislation and whale conservation.

Whales face more threats today than any other time in history. Commercial whaling, ocean noise pollution, climate change, ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear kill thousands of whales annually and threaten the habitat of the remaining populations. The sustainability and survival of these species is of utmost importance and must be treated as such.

I will continue to advocate on behalf of these magnificent creatures. I certainly hope Congress will follow suit.

Goran Visnjic is an actor best known for his role as Dr. Luka Kovac on “ER.” A supporter of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, he currently resides in Los Angeles.

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