Japan likely to whale again

Green Lifestyle

Whaling could continue in the southern ocean if Japan’s new proposal meets international standards.


Credit: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

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Yesterday, the Japanese government released a new proposal for scientific whale research in the Antarctic Ocean.

The release of this plan comes just months after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan’s whaling program did not meet scientific research standards set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and their whaling program was immediately ceased.

At the time of the ICJ ruling in March this year, Japan's government spokesperson Nori Shikata stated; “Japan will abide by the judgement of the court that places a great importance on the international legal order and the rule of law”.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made it clear that he doesn't believe that whales need to be killed for research ourposes, yet the current Australian government is unlikely to oppose Japan's new plan.

“The Australian Greens have said over and over that the ICJ court case would not be sufficient to stop the harpoon boats returning,” says Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

“The government needed to pile on the diplomatic pressure, but instead they ignored the issue.”

“The Liberal government has abandoned the leadership that had been shown by successive Australian governments for the last 30 years when they said they would put trade deals ahead of whaling in their relations with Japan,” says Whish-Wilson.

The new plan reduces the number of species targeted and individuals hunted, and adds non-lethal collection methods to the research. However, it includes extending the research zone and hunting a sample of 333 Minke whales.

Continuing to hunt whales while new technology allows for non-lethal surveys and data collection is a major cause for suspicion from animal welfare advocates.

“If Japan really wants to study whales for science it should join the IWC-supported, multi-national, non-lethal Southern Ocean Research Programme, which produces valuable data from studying living whales in their marine environment rather than slaughtering them,” says Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Humane Society International’s Alexia Wellbelove agrees; “Japan's continued insistence in pushing ahead with unnecessary, unethical so-called 'research' is simply a means of supporting their long-term aim of resuming commercial whaling”.

The proposal for 2015/2016 will be reviewed by the IWC, however they have insufficient legal power to stop Japan whaling completely.

The Minke whale is also not classified as threatened, so Japan’s commissioner to the IWC sees the current resistance as a “philosophical position” rather than scientific opposition.

Take action to end Japanese whaling for good by signing this petition with the Australian Marine Conservation Society here.