Ja­pan’s pro­pos­als to re-open com­mer­cial whale hunt­ing are thwarted

Ja­pan’s pro­pos­als to in­tro­duce whal­ing quo­tas have been op­posed by the IWC.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

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

FIND OUT MORE

In­ter­na­tional Whal­ing Com­mis­sion: https://iwc.int/home

Ja­panese whal­ing ships ( be­low) kill Antarc­tic minke whales ( pic­tured) in the South­ern Ocean un­der their sci­en­tific pro­gramme.

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