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Vaquita. Photo Thomas Jefferson

Scientific Committee gives first ever official species extinction warning

Photo: Thomas Jefferson We have welcomed the urgent call by experts to protect the vaquita...
blue whale

Whale fossil from Peru may have been heavier than blue whale

Scientists examining the bones of a 39 million-year-old ancient whale have concluded that it may...
Humpback whale © Christopher Swann

Humpback whales breach in synchronisation

Humpback whales are renowned for their incredible acrobatic displays, but a family in the USA...
Long-finned pilot whale

Unusual activity witnessed before pilot whale stranding

Just days after a pod of long-finned pilot whales stranded on an island in the...
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  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
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Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

A waste of taxpayers money. Groups within Japan slam decision to conduct more research whaling

The Japanese government has passed a bill regarding the resumption of commercial whale hunting despite international opposition, and by environmental groups within Japan itself.

Currently, Japan gets around the international ban on commercial whaling via a loophole in the rules that allows the slaughter of whales for scientific research. Japan conducts these so-called ‘research’ hunts in the Southern and Pacific oceans, and much of the meat is then offered for sale.

The proposed new bill will enshrine funding for research whaling into the Japanese national budget despite the fact that demand for whale meat in Japan has fallen and the government already has to subsidise the industry.

The new bill was passed with virtually no debate within the Diet (parliament) and will result in multi-year funding for research whaling, the construction of a new whaling “mothership” to continue research whaling and toughen immigration controls on foreign activists and shun global opinion.

A statement issued by a coalition  of 12 anti-whaling groups in Japan highlights two primary problems with the bill:

The first is that the resumption of commercial whaling, which is explicitly stated in the bill’s objectives, does not benefit Japan in any way.. Even if Japan continues to conduct research whaling, as a nation Japan  cannot obtain consent from the international community: it is impossible to secure over 3/4 of the votes at the International Whaling Commission that would be needed in order to approve the resumption of whaling.

The second is that Japan’s scientific basis for its whaling program is seriously questioned internationally.

The statement goes on to say, originally, research whaling was designed to sustain itself through the revenue from sales of whale meat. However, due to the decline in whale meat consumption in Japan, the high operating costs of conducting a research whaling program were no longer able to be recovered, and as a result the Institute of Cetacean Research, the body that oversees the ‘research’, became insolvent. It is clear that the whaling industry cannot be economically viable, given the current low demand for the meat. Research whaling in Antarctica is only possible by the government injecting large amounts of public funds.

‘Scientific research’ at first may sound like a good contribution to international  knowledge, but the research program is based on lethal catches of whales. It has been 70 years since the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling concluded. Meanwhile, the environment for whaling operations has changed, and non-lethal research technologies have advanced.

Japan’s scientific whaling has been heavily criticised by expert scientist at the International Whaling commission (the body that regulates whaling), by the International Court of Justice, the EU parliament and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the global authority on the status of the natural world.

The statement concludes:

The new law ignores the current controversies surrounding the operations, attempts to shut out criticism, and is designed only to continue research whaling no matter what the cost – to either the whales, Japan’s international reputation, or to the Japanese taxpayer.

Consequently, with the bill’s passage, our tax money will be spent on these wasteful programs every year, whilst damaging our relationships with otherwise friendly nations, and disgracing ourselves internationally. The Fisheries Agency currently appropriates 5 billion yen annually for the research whaling budget. This amount exceeds the 4.6 billion yen that is allocated for resource assessment for Japan’s entire coastal fisheries. Now even more public funds will be invested, and not only the development of the fisheries industry but also all other fisheries operations will suffer. It has no connnection to Japan’s national interests, and we therefore will continue to oppose this legislation.