Since 1946, the IWC has been charged with the conservation of the world's whale populations after rampant slaughter nearly annihilated many species. However, after implementing a complete ban on commercial fishing in 1986, there has been growing pressure from Japan, Iceland and Norway to resume the practice. To bolster their cause, Japan has been working behind the scenes to bring "sympathetic" countries into the IWC by exchanging foreign aid for pro-whaling votes.
This past June they tipped the scales and two decades after the ban went into effect, the IWC voted 33-32 in favour of the eventual return to commercial whaling. Shortly after that, Iceland announced annual quotas of 30 minke whales and 9 endangered fin whales and harvested their first catch - a 70ft fin - in October.
Its a controversy that will become more heated in the coming years.
As whale populations recover, the debate is slowly shifting from the outright preservation of whales a more subtle moral consideration of their value as unique intelligent creatures. Conservationists have acted for years under the implicit premise that whales should be set apart and afforded special protections that go beyond the mere survival of the species. The primary concern of pro-whaling nations is the management of the species for commercial harvest.
Tony Blair and the British government have embraced the conservationists view and are actively seeking other nations to join in the cause. Canada, despite having the longest coastline of any nation - and being home to 11 endangered whale populations - is not a member of the IWC.
To encourage Canada to join the UK's efforts write the appropriate Ministers below:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper - firstname.lastname@example.org
Environment Minister John Baird - John.Baird@ec.gc.ca
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay - email@example.com