Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

Japan argues that it's a 'scientific debate, not a legal one'

Japan is currently testifying at the ICJ, The Hague and arguing that the court should not rule in favour with Australia as this is simply a ‘scientific debate amongst scientists’.

The core of their argument is that Japan is not required to gain approval from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), simply to submit their whaling proposal to thh Scientific Committee for ‘review and comment’.

Under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) countries considering giving special permits for lethal research indeed, must submit the proposals to the Scientific Committee of the IWC for review and comment.

However, the Scientific Committee is not the final deciding body for the IWC, despite what Japan would like to argue.

The Scientific Committee has to advise the IWC whether the objectives and methodology of the research meet certain criteria. The main criteria are its necessity for the Comprehensive Assessment or other ‘critically important’ reason; that the results cannot be obtained by non-lethal means; that it will produce reliable answers to the questions being addressed; and that it will not have an adverse effect on the stock. Non-lethal research is preferred by the IWC as part of its commitment to conservation as required under the ICRW.

The Commission then expresses its opinion on the special permit proposal.

The IWC website goes onto say,

“The Commission often makes comments on any proposals its receives from Contracting Governments to establish or modify special permit programmes.  It does this by passing Resolutions

The Court must be careful not to fall for this Japanese argument, and we hope that it is fully advised on the actual reality of the IWC processes.

The IWC has been cautious about passing resolutions in the last few years as countries have been seeking to lower the tension in debates, but the last resolution I can find on JARPA (I stand ready to be corrected) is from 2007, and which says,

Resolution 2007-1  RESOLUTION ON JARPA

WHEREAS paragraph 7(b) of the Schedule establishes a sanctuary in the Southern Ocean;

RECALLING that the Commission has repeatedly requested Contracting Parties to refrain from issuing special permits for research involving the killing of whales within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, has expressed deep concern at continuing lethal research within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and has also recommended that scientific research involving the killing of cetaceans should only be permitted where critically important research needs are addressed;

CONSCIOUS that the Scientific Committee last year convened a workshop to analyse the results of JARPA 1, which is reported in SC/59/REP 1;

NOTING that the Workshop agreed that none of the goals of JARPA 1 had been reached, and that the results of  the JARPA 1 programme are not required for management under the RMP;

FURTHER NOTING that the Government of Japan has authorised a new special permit programme in the Antarctic, JARPA II, in which the take of minke whales has been more than doubled, and fin whales and  humpback whales have been added to the list of targeted species;

CONCERNED that fin whales in the Southern Hemisphere are currently classified as endangered, and that humpback whales in the JARPA II research area may include individuals from depleted breeding populations overwintering in the waters of certain Pacific Islands;

CONVINCED that the aims of JARPA II do not address critically important research needs;

NOW THEREFORE THE COMMISSION

CALLS UPON the Government of Japan to address the 31 recommendations listed in Appendix 4 of Annex O of the Scientific Committee report relating to the December 2006 review of the JARPA I programme to the satisfaction of the Scientific Committee;

FURTHER CALLS UPON the Government of Japan to suspend indefinitely the lethal aspects of JARPA II conducted within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.