WSPA condemns alleged Japanese whaling plans

Jan 27, 2009

Ignoring the ban on commercial whaling puts minke whales, as well as other species, at risk

WSPA condemns reported attempts by the Chair of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to strike a deal enabling Japan to resume commercial whaling, when all credible science tells us there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea.

The deal, outlined in documents obtained by the Washington Post this week, would allegedly allow Japan to hunt whales in its coastal waters in exchange for a ‘scaling back’ of their bogus scientific hunts in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

This wholly undermines the 1986 ban on commercial whaling instated by the IWC, the body charged with the management of whaling and conservation of the world’s whales.

A matter of animal welfare

Such a deal would pave the way for the global resumption of commercial whaling, an inherently cruel practice using crude exploding harpoons.

Data from Japan and Norway shows that whales can suffer for over an hour before succumbing to their injuries.

WSPA believes that Japan’s illegitimate ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean must be stopped through diplomatic pressure outside of the IWC, and calls for the whaling ban to be maintained and strengthened on animal welfare grounds.

Defying the ban, making a deal

Claire Bass, WSPA’s Marine Mammal Program Manager, said: “It is outrageous that Japan, having killed over 11,000 whales in shameless defiance of a global ban, is holding the IWC hostage and demanding concessions. It beggars belief that the IWC would consider such negotiations and, apparently with the support of the USA, offer up whales on a plate to Japan.”

“Whaling is inhumane wherever it takes place,” continued Bass, “A deal which simply moves this cruelty from the Southern Ocean to the North Pacific is not worth the paper it is written on. Sanctioning this inhumane and unnecessary practice would be a huge step backwards for animal welfare.”

Time to focus on whales

WSPA is also concerned that the IWC, founded to manage both whaling and whale conservation, has lost its perspective.

Although only Japan, Norway and Iceland want to whale commercially, the Commission devotes a disproportionately large percentage of its time to negotiating whether and how to resume it.

Meanwhile, the world’s whales remain largely unprotected from an increasing number of threats, including chemical and noise pollution, climate change, over-fishing and being killed as by-catch.

WSPA and fellow members of the Whalewatch network believe that the IWC needs to re-set its priorities to protect whales, not whaling.

Read our report Time to Refocus >>

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