Lord Ashcroft KCMG

April 30, 2007 07:16 ET

British peer commissions Caribbean advertising campaign to counter proposed resumption of whaling

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - April 30, 2007) - It was announced today that Lord Ashcroft KCMG has commissioned an unprecedented television advertising campaign which he hopes will persuade the inhabitants of six small Caribbean nations not to back Japanese-inspired plans to overturn the ban on commercial whale hunting.

Ashcroft has devised and funded the US$500,000 campaign - Tell Japan We'll Keep The Ban - which will be screened throughout each of the six island nations whose votes he hopes to turn in favour of sustaining the current whaling ban. Screenings will begin tomorrow and will continue throughout May, in anticipation of the forthcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting which begins in Anchorage, Alaska at the end of May(i).

The campaign is being mounted in conjunction with the UK- and US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). EIA is one of the world's leading environmental campaigning organisations which, for more than twenty years, has investigated environmental crimes worldwide, often undercover(ii).

In recent years, the Japanese government, recognising the importance of national votes at the IWC, has been actively recruiting support from some of the world's smaller nations, trading financial assistance for pro-whaling votes at IWC meetings. The governments of six island nations in the eastern Caribbean, with a combined population of about half a million people, have succumbed to such overtures. They are Antigua & Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. In every case, the Japanese have provided these nations with financial support in the form of fisheries aid.

Lord Ashcroft said, "Amongst the sightings of which I have the most vivid and fond memories are of humpback whales in the Southern Ocean, close to Antarctica. To watch these huge and extraordinary creatures 'breach' - launching themselves head first right out of the water and then crashing back down - is in my view amongst the great wonders of the world. It is entirely beyond my comprehension that the Japanese now plan to harpoon fifty humpback whales next year in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary itself. We must persuade our Caribbean friends to resist the Japanese bribery, and to vote in favour of the whales and a continuation of the ban."

Allan Thornton, the Chairman of EIA said, "Japan's outrageous plan to kill fifty humpback whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary this winter can be stopped if the Caribbean nations oppose Japan's continued expansion of its commercial whale hunt. We hope our friends in the Caribbean will persuade their governments to let the humpbacks live and "Tell Japan We'll Keep The Ban".

The television commercial can be downloaded from the following link:
Username: ftp017 / password: whalepass

ftp://ftp.rushes.co.uk/


Picture of Lord Ashcroft:

http://www.ccnmatthews.com/docs/Lord_Ashcroft_TerryONeill.jpg


Still from television commercial:

http://www.ccnmatthews.com/docs/IMG_9161.jpg


Notes to editors

- Lord Ashcroft spends many days each year at sea, on regular occasion actively seeking out whales in their feeding or birthing grounds in order to watch their behaviour. His observations have taken place from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and have included many of the world's oceans. He does not profess, however, to be a conservationist nor an environmentalist, and he is not philosophically opposed to the killing of animals if necessary. However, other than the minor exception of aboriginal subsistence whaling, he believes that there is no justification on either scientific or commercial grounds for the killing of some of the world's most beautiful creatures.

- EIA is well known to Ashcroft. He has previously provided help and financial support to an important EIA campaign. On this occasion, the Agency asked Ashcroft to use his influence to appeal to the government of Belize to seek that nation's continuing support against proposals for the resumption of whaling at the International Whaling Commission's Annual Meeting in Saint Kitts in July 2006.

- Ashcroft has a close affinity for whales, dolphins and porpoises - an affinity which has developed over many years of repeated observation of cetaceans around the world. He was easily persuaded to approach the Belizean authorities with such a brief. Belize was persuaded to attend the St Kitts meeting and to cast its votes against those proposals which had contemplated a resumption of whaling.

- The most important vote was in fact won by the anti-whaling nations with a majority of just one vote. The presence of Belize at the meeting was therefore crucial, even though Japan and its supporters would have required a three-quarters majority in order to reverse the current ban on whaling.

- Following the St Kitts meeting, Ashcroft tabled a series of questions in the House of Lords(iii), enquiring as to the British Government's attitude towards whaling. Following an unsatisfactory response to his parliamentary questions, Ashcroft decided instead to embark upon a programme of persuasion aimed directly at the citizens of the six Caribbean nations mentioned above, and thus to their elected representatives.

(i) http://www.iwcoffice.org/meetings/meeting2007.htm
(ii) http://www.eia-global.org/
(iii) http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?pid=12884&s=section%3Awrans&pop=1

- Additional information can also be obtained from the following websites:

www.caribbeanwhalefriends.org
www.lordashcroft.com
www.michaelashcroftfoundation.com

TV commercial aims to prevent the resumption of whaling

Throughout May, a thought-provoking television commercial christened "Tell Japan We'll Keep The Ban" will be broadcast in six Caribbean nations which have been recruited by Japan to support a move to recommence whaling. The first screenings of the commercial take place tomorrow (see commercial(1)), and will be followed by approximately 1,000 'spots' across the six countries.

The brainchild of Lord Ashcroft, the commercial has been produced with the hope of persuading the inhabitants of six small Caribbean nations to pressure their governments not to back Japanese-inspired plans to recommence the killing of whales. Those nations are Antigua & Barbuda; Dominica; Grenada; Saint Kitts & Nevis; Saint Lucia; and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.

The US$500,000 campaign, funded by Ashcroft, and produced in conjunction with the UK- and US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), is being screened in the run-up to the forthcoming International Whaling Commission meeting which begins in Anchorage, Alaska at the end of May(2).

The thirty second commercial features a voiceover from the Trinidad-born presenter Sir Trevor McDonald who gave his services freely to support the initiative. It was produced under the aegis of Glasshead - an award-winning independent TV and multimedia company - by a team which included writer Malcolm Gaskin, who is also a director of EIA. The producer was Kim Collins and the director and editor was Sam Hurford.

(1) ftp://ftp.rushes.co.uk/
(2) http://www.iwcoffice.org/meetings/meeting2007.htm

Post production, finishing and special effects Rushes.
Original music: Adelphoi Music. Titles Digital Farm.


The Lord Ashcroft KCMG
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW


May 2007

An open letter to the nations of:
Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines


Dear Friends

Independent sovereign nations must of course be free to make their own decisions. I ask you though to reconsider your nation's support for the Japanese proposal to re-commence the killing of whales. I write as someone who cares deeply for the Caribbean, and who believes that standing now against the Japanese is in the best interests of these nations.

The pressures upon our governments and upon their peoples are numerous. Every Caribbean nation needs revenue from beyond its shores, and public projects everywhere are crying out for overseas support.

For these reasons, no-one can blame those who have taken financial help from the Japanese, but that assistance should be freely given. Japanese aid often has unacceptable strings attached. In return for that help, they expect voting support from your nation at the International Whaling Commission. That voting support should now be removed.

We all need the whales. They represent the enduring qualities of our planet. Unfortunately, they also represent our own fragility. We must never take the whales for granted, in the same way that we should never take our planet and these beautiful islands for granted.

Throughout the Caribbean we welcome income from tourism, and tourists come because of the environment. That includes the whales, and the whales themselves represent a much bigger opportunity of sustainable income. In many parts of the world, tourist industries thrive because of whale watching activities. That is not yet the position in the Caribbean, although there are a number of whale watching operations which should be encouraged. These have the potential to generate substantial overseas earnings.

Conversely, supporting a move to reintroduce commercial hunting could well mean that those same tourists turn their backs on the Caribbean, and especially on those island nations that have been the supporters of Japan.

I cannot understand how or why anyone would wish to take the life of one of our most beautiful creatures. It is impossible to justify. The Japanese aid to the nations of the eastern Caribbean is resulting in Japan killing more and more species protected under international law.

I ask you please to reconsider and to support the continuation of the whaling ban. Whales have inhabited our oceans for millions of years. Help to protect them. Please.

Thank you for reading this letter.

Contact Information

  • for Lord Ashcroft:
    Angela Entwistle
    020 7248 6700/07802 264769
    or
    Alan Kilkenny
    01264 781228/07836 311639
    or
    for EIA:
    Allan Thornton
    + (1) 202 361 9641