By Bay City News Service
Environmental activists are gathering Sunday throughout the state, including in several places in the Bay Area, to call on President Obama to protect a decades-long ban on commercial whaling.
The events, some of which are being held in San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, are being organized by various environmental groups that are urging the president to keep the ban on whaling intact.
The International Whaling Commission approved a whaling moratorium in 1982, but thousands of whales have been killed since then either for "scientific" purposes or by countries such as Japan and Russia that are allowed to hunt whales for "aboriginal subsistence," according to a report by the California Coastal Commission.
On April 22, the IWC announced a proposal that would allow those countries to legally continue to kill whales while adopting other standards they claim would ensure that the whale population is not negatively affected, according to the report.
The U.S. has not offered a formal response to the proposal, but the Coastal Commission report claims it has supported it behind closed doors.
Sara Wan, a coastal commissioner, is helping to organize Sunday's events, which she said will be used to ask Obama to "keep his promise."
Obama promised during the 2008 presidential campaign that he would oppose Japan's whaling, according to Wan. She said the IWC claims its proposal "is a compromise, but in essence it removes the moratorium."
In Pacifica, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and state Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, are expected to attend a 10 a.m. rally near the Pacifica Pier.
At noon, a group of activists will also form a human whale on Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay and an aerial photograph will be taken, according to Wan.
The event in San Francisco is scheduled for noon and will feature speakers from the Western Alliance for Nature, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and other environmental groups. San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was also expected to attend, according to event organizers.
Petitions will be handed out at the various events and delivered to Obama in Washington on June 3, according to event organizers.
For a full list of the events in California, go to www.wanconservancy.org.