Message to the International Whaling Commission

July 17, 1981

I want to take this opportunity to affirm the United States Government's continuing commitment to whale protection and to urge you to support our proposal for an indefinite moratorium on commercial whaling.

Throughout human history, whales have evoked awe and wonder. They are the largest creatures ever to have lived on this earth; yet they are also among the most mysterious. It is this mysterious quality that gives whales their appeal and increases the importance of effective management that could assure whale populations for the future.

The United States has long supported scientific research and efforts to strengthen management procedures used by the International Whaling Commission. We believe that further revisions to management procedures are essential to reflect the inadequate information on whale biology, behavior, population dynamics, and, most importantly, abundance. Even such revisions, however, will probably not secure the necessary protection. Our cooperative efforts in the past to regulate whaling have been tragically unsuccessful and species after species has been successfully over-exploited and reduced to protected status. Indeed, the International Whaling Commission prohibits all commercial whaling on the majority of whale stocks because of their reduced abundance. We have no basis to believe that commercial whaling will not continue to reduce whale stocks.

It is time to recognize the errors of the past. Available information is inadequate to protect the whales while commercial whaling continues, and it is for this reason as well as others that the United States has proposed an indefinite moratorium on commercial whaling. I urge you to join with us and other people throughout the world to secure the protection of these magnificient creatures and wish you success in your important work.

Ronald Reagan

Note: The text of the message was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on July 20. It was not issued as a White House press release.