20th July 2002

George W Bush
The White House
Washington, DC


Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you on behalf of our 115,000 supporters and the millions of Canadians who share our views about the protection of animals and the environment. For more than 30 years, our staff have worked here in Canada and around the world on issues affecting animals and nature, and participated in international treaty deliberations such at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

As you know, we have a long-standing opposition to the single bowhead whale killed each year in Nunavut (formerly a part of the Northwest Territories). We are also of the view that small cetaceans, such as narwhal and beluga, should also be fully protected. In fact, we have gone as far as suggesting that the best way to protect marine life and the environment in Canada and to support our involvement in international treaties would be to dismantle our own federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans whose staff have a long history of supporting the unbridled slaughter of marine life and the mismanagement of our marine resources.

To this end, we are writing to express our deep concern over the reported plans by your government to conduct an International Whaling Commission (IWC) postal vote in an effort to reverse your failure at the IWC meeting in Japan to obtain an aboriginal quota for bowhead whales; and your reported intention to prosecute native Americans in Little Diomede for hunting grey whales without a quota.

Your failure to obtain an aboriginal quota for bowhead whales was due to the success of Japan and her proxy nations casting votes against such a quota. Not surprisingly, Japan won accolades not only at home, but abroad for frustrating the wishes of the United States on this issue.

We believe that if the United States conducts an IWC postal vote on this issue, then you will be responsible for opening a Pandora’s box that will severely undermine the treaty itself and other international treaties, such as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The fact of the matter is that after losing a vote on the issue of aboriginal quotas, the United States is attempting to reverse that decision by polling IWC member nations for their views and then holding a postal vote. Japan has already publicly and "magnanimously" agreed to reconsider their position on this issue and for good reason.

After sticking their thumb in the eye of the United States the first time by blocking the United States’ request for an aboriginal quota and winning accolades at home and abroad, Japan and her proxy nations win a second time, by appearing to be generous and reasonable by offering to reconsider their position. However, the third time they win will be most devastating of all.

The Japanese and her proxy nations will cast IWC postal votes in favour of the United States request to reconsider the aboriginal quota, and the quota will be granted. The ink will barely be dry on the paper, when Japan and her proxy nations will then call for an IWC postal vote to reconsider their request for an aboriginal quota - and in future on any other matter which does not go their way at such meetings.

Japan’s next step will be to marshal her more numerous proxy nations at other international treaties, such as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and they will use postal votes as a devastating tactic to try and reverse decisions on issues ranging from elephant ivory to the trade in whale meat to the sale of turtle shells.

We believe that the United States, long regarded as a world leader in conservation, will have started us down a dangerous path that will undermine the effectiveness of international treaties, something that is forbidden under United States’ national law and international treaties to which the United States is a signatory.

We also express concern over reports that the United States government may prosecute Native Americans in Little Diomede for hunting grey whales without a quota.

If we were acting as defence counsel for these Native Americans, our response would be both compelling and straightforward. The United States Government sanctioned and supervised the hunting of grey whales by the Makah, and yet that quota was emphatically denied by the IWC during the meetings in Monaco. So why should a Native American in Little Diomede be prosecuted when a Native American living in another part of the same country is encouraged and sanctioned to violate national and international laws?

Despite the tremendous good work carried out by the United States in cooperation with many countries around the world, regrettably, among member nations of the international community, the United States has a well-deserved reputation for double standards when it considers her obligations to follow international treaties. Many countries argue that as the only superpower left on earth, that perhaps the United States considers itself above the law, and that might makes right. This is both an unfortunate and regrettable state of affairs that only the United States can work to resolve.

It cannot have escaped your attention that Japan has used the Makah as her proxy by providing financial, logistical and technical support for the killing of grey whales in an effort to offset public criticism of Japanese whaling operations and to cause damage to the United States at meetings of the IWC and other international treaties.

(On a related matter, while we are still investigating this matter, for the moment we are not convinced that the IWC acted legally at the recent meeting in Japan in reaffirming the United States’ grey whale quota for the Makah because it would then simply be rubber stamping the illegal actions taken by the US in Monaco and in subsequently facilitating the grey whale hunts by the Makah. You should also be aware, whatever we discover in this specific case, that we are in the process of preparing a complaint to the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission on Environmental Commission for the role played by the United States Government for facilitating the hunt by the Makah on pregnant and/or nursing pods of grey whales, a migratory species which travels through the territorial waters of three nations, namely the United States, Canada and Mexico - and thereby undermining the effectiveness of international treaties and in violating national laws of the United States. As a part of such a complaint we fully intend to expose Japan’s role in providing financial, logistically and technical support for the Makah as a way of diverting public criticism away from its own illegal commercial slaughter of marine life).

For many years, the United States has worked tirelessly at home and around the world for the protection of wildlife and the environment. As the only superpower on earth, this mission is more urgent than ever before.

We would urge you in the strongest possible terms to sit down with Makah and the other native Americans who hunt whales and resolve these issues in a way that does not further what we believe is the agenda of Japan and her proxy nations to undermine the IWC and other international treaties to which the United States is a signatory.

Awaiting your reply, I remain, yours sincerely,


Michael O'Sullivan
Chairman & CEO


cc Dr Nicola Grandy, IWC Secretariat