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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Japan's 'scientific whaling' under the spotlight

As delegates from around the world converge on Portoroz, Slovenia for the opening of the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today, pro and anti-whaling nations are set to clash over Japan's 'scientific whaling'.

The stage is set for a critical meeting of the IWC, the conservation body set up to protect whales, with up to 80+ member countries coming together for the first time in two years against the backdrop of a recent landmark judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ruled that Japan's 'scientific whaling' in the Antarctic was illegal and must stop. 

After initially announcing it would comply with the March 2014 ruling and cancel its slaughter in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Japan has stated that it intends to create a new research plan and resume killing of whales in the name of science after a one-year pause.

A draft resolution by New Zealand to be considered by the IWC aims to uphold the ICJ's ruling and help ensure that no further illegal permits for scientific whaling will be issued. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is urging anti-whaling countries to support this resolution and resist any attempts to weaken it. 

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW's Global Whales Programme, said: "New Zealand's resolution aims to secure the full promise of the ICJ judgment which gives whales in Antarctica protection against slaughter for the first time in more than a century. We need a concerted effort by conservation-minded countries to ensure safe passage for this resolution and encourage Japan to permanently end its illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean."

Japan recently sent an email to scientists around the world asking for international help to review its plans for a new 'scientific whaling' programme.

Ramage added: "This back to front approach – deciding to kill whales first and developing plans to justify it later - shows Japan would rather just keep killing whales than join other countries in carrying out legitimate and valuable scientific research. The stage is set. The World Court set out clear criteria in its approach to scientific whaling. We will find out this week whether the IWC is up to the challenge of imposing court-ordered standards for scientific whaling or content to stand on the sidelines while Japan continues commercial whaling by another name."

In what is shaping up to be a watershed meeting for the IWC, many other issues are also on the table, including proposals for Japanese coastal whaling, creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and greater involvement of other international organisations such as the UN on the whaling issue.
IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for people.

IFAW's team in Slovenia will be providing regular video blogs from the meeting via www.ifaw.org
Follow IFAW updates on Twitter via @Action4IFAW and @IFAWUKPress
Images and footage available for media use by registering with www.ifawimages.com
IWC documents are available here: http://iwc.int/iwc65docs

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare
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