Ne­go­tia­tor says to try again with ‘sci­en­tific’ pro­gram for whal­ing

The China Post - - LIFE -

Ja­pan’s top whal­ing ne­go­tia­tor said Tues­day Tokyo would try again to jus­tify its “sci­en­tific” Antarc­tic Ocean hunt af­ter a panel of ex­perts said the gov­ern­ment had not proved why it needed to kill the mam­mals.

Joji Mor­ishita, Ja­pan’s com­mis­sioner to the In­ter­na­tional Whal­ing Com­mis­sion (IWC), said he and his fel­low of­fi­cials would do their best to meet de­mands for ev­i­dence their hunt is sci­en­tific, with the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment determined to restart what it claims is re­search.

“We re­spect their rec­om­men­da­tions and we will make the best ef­fort to re­spond to their rec­om­men­da­tions, in good faith and in a sin­cere man­ner,” Mor­ishita told jour­nal­ists in Tokyo.

“Our draft re­search plan is a draft from Page 1 to the end, so all parts of the re­search plan can be im­proved, amended or changed in the course of the dis­cus­sion.”

De­spite in­ter­na­tional dis­ap­proval, Ja­pan has hunted whales in the South­ern Ocean un­der an ex­emp­tion in the global mora­to­rium on whal­ing that al­lows for lethal re­search.

It makes no se­cret of the fact that meat from the an­i­mals — killed os­ten­si­bly for re­search — is pro­cessed into food.

The In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice — the high­est court of the United Na­tions — ruled in March last year that the re­search was a ve­neer for a com­mer­cial hunt and or­dered that it end.

Af­ter that rul­ing, Ja­pan said it would not hunt dur­ing this win­ter’s Antarc­tic sea­son but has since ex­pressed its in­ten­tion to re­sume “re­search whal­ing” in 2015-16.

Ja­pan then tin­kered with its pro­gram and sub­mit­ted a new plan to a panel of ex­perts from the IWC. Amongst other things, the plan re­duced the an­nual catch tar­get to 333 from 900, and put a 12-year limit on the re­search.

But that panel on Mon­day said there was not enough ev­i­dence of the need for whales to be killed if Ja­pan re­ally wants to find out what they eat and how old they are.

Mor­ishita said Ja­pan would fine tune the plan be­fore a meet­ing of the IWC’s science com­mit­tee in San Diego in May.

Ja­pan has said it be­lieves the world’s whale pop­u­la­tion, es­pe­cially the stock of minke whales, is size­able enough to ac­com­mo­date a re­turn to sus­tain­able whal­ing.

It ar­gued in its pro­posal to the IWC that knowl­edge gained by the re­search killing would help the IWC cal­cu­late sus­tain­able lev­els for hunt­ing.

Lethal re­search should also lead to a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the Antarc­tic marine ecosys­tem, Ja­pan main­tains.

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