Britons overwhelmingly opposed to ending 30 year-old commercial whaling ban

Last edited 20 October 2016 at 11:51am
20 October, 2016

London, October 20: With a 30 year-old international moratorium on hunting whales for profit under threat, new research commissioned by Greenpeace UK shows a large majority of Britons believe the UK government should take a lead in upholding the ban.

A poll by YouGov showed that 91 per cent of people believe whales should continue to have protection from being hunted.

The ban on commercial whaling is likely to be a contentious topic for some governments attending the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Slovenia which starts today. The UK has historically been a strong supporter of whale conservation in the IWC, and nearly 70 per cent of Britons polled agreed that the UK government should have a prominent role in ensuring the whaling ban is upheld.

Willie Mackenzie, an oceans expert with Greenpeace UK, said:

“The British people have traditionally been a nation of whale lovers and these results emphatically show that still to be the case. They also demonstrate that the British government has massive public support to lead the way and ensure the moratorium on commercial whaling is upheld by the IWC.”

“With the many problems threatening the survival of numerous species of whales and dolphins, the idea of killing them for profit should become a thing of the past on a permanent basis.” 

Plans to introduce a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS) will also be discussed and voted on when the IWC convenes for its biennial gathering in the Slovenian resort of Portoroz today.

On Thursday Greenpeace UK presented more than 110,000 petition signatures to the office of environment minister George Eustice calling for the government to vote in favour of SAWS and the continuation of the moratorium.

A total of nearly a million signatures has called for the same in countries ranging from Brazil to Australia.

Mackenzie said: “George Eustice is on record saying that the UK strongly supports the global moratorium and that he will attend the IWC meeting in Slovenia. It is crucial these promises are fulfilled and it is clear he has emphatic public support on this.”

Greenpeace played a key role in achieving the landmark moratorium on commercial whaling which came into effect in 1986. The IWC meeting comes some 70 years after the bloc was formed and 50 years after it became illegal to hunt blue whales, the largest creature to ever have existed on earth. 

Notes to editor:

For the full research, see here:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2066 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5-6 October 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

View and download a selection of whale images here:

For further details or queries please contact: Luke Massey, press and communications officer, Greenpeace, +44 (0)7973 873 155

Follow Greenpeace UK