Japan’s proposals to re-open commercial whale hunting are thwarted
Japan’s proposals to introduce whaling quotas have been opposed by the IWC.
Nations and conservation groups opposed to whaling have been successful in defeating Japanese proposals aimed at re-opening commercial hunting of whales.
At a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in September, Japan’s ‘Way Forward’ initiative was voted down by 41 to 27. Opponents of the package of measures, which included the creation of a sustainable whaling committee to set quotas, say they were confused by Japan’s motives for initiating the vote.
The proposal was “stark and uncompromising in its ambition”, according to Australia’s commissioner to the IWC, Nick Gales, speaking before the vote took place. “It is hard to avoid the difficult conclusion that the proposal has been designed and bought forward with the intent, and in the clear knowledge, that it will fail,” he said.
Though the IWC has had a moratorium on commercial whaling since 1986, Japan hunts under what it calls a scientific whaling programme. There is some speculation that Japan is trying to manufacture a situation where it can legitimately leave the IWC. However, Clare Perry, senior campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), says this doesn’t make sense. “If Japan leaves the IWC, it then falls under the UN Law of the Sea, and it would definitely not be able to whale in the Southern Ocean,” she says. For conservation groups, another positive development was the adoption of the Florianópolis Declaration, which confirmed the commission’s role in restoring whale populations to pre-industrial levels. However, as the EIA pointed out before the meeting, commercial whaling continues in all but name – Japan, Iceland and Norway together have taken more than 38,000 whales in total since the moratorium came into effect. J Fair
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International Whaling Commission: https://iwc.int/home
Japanese whaling ships ( below) kill Antarctic minke whales ( pictured) in the Southern Ocean under their scientific programme.