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Dominica announces new protections for sperm whales

Dominica has placed almost 800 square kilometers of sea off the west coast of the...
Commerson's dolphin

New Important Marine Mammal Areas added to global ocean conservation list

Commerson's dolphin Experts from a number of countries have mapped out a new set of...
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...
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  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
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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...

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...

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...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

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...

One year on – Japan’s return to whaling hurts us all

Whale in a forest

Japanese whalers have slaughtered 223 whales in the 12 months since the Japanese government announced that it would resume industrial whaling, a decision which marine charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation believes will contribute to the climate emergency.

Japan’s withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (the body that regulates whale hunting) at Christmas in 2018, was criticised by governments and environmental organisations across the world.  Boris Johnson condemned the move to recommence the “brutal harpooning of beautiful, intelligent and endangered mammals”[1].  A year later and unofficial off-shore tallies calculate that Japanese whalers have killed 11 minke, 187 Bryde's and 25 sei whales which, if laid end-to-end, would stretch the length of around 37 football pitches.[2]

“The killing of these whales isn’t just cruel, it is senseless,” says Chris Butler-Stroud, chief executive of Whale and Dolphin Conservation.  Whaling is subsidised by the Japanese government, because 95% of Japanese people have little or no appetite for whale meat.  The industry employs only around 300 people.  This has little to do with tradition or culture and everything to do with the domestic politics of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party. These whales have been killed for politics.”

Japan’s return to commercial whaling comes at a time when there is growing appreciation of the role whales play in tackling the climate emergency.  Whales move vital nutrients around the ocean, fertilizing the phytoplankton that gives us every second breath we take.

“The ocean is the planet’s second lung, and we are only just beginning to understand how whales help to keep it working,” adds Butler-Stroud.  “The killing of whales is as appalling as the burning of rainforests.  Both harm us all, by destroying our allies in tackling the climate crisis at a time when we need them most.”

The international ban on whaling has been described as one of the greatest conservation agreements ever made.  It followed centuries of slaughter which reduced whale populations to a quarter of what they once were and could even have helped to accelerate climate change.  Most whale populations have still not recovered and continue to face threats from hunting, fishing, shipping and pollution.

As Japan prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, the issue of whaling continues cast a shadow over the nation’s reputation.


[2] [calculation based on male (i.e. smaller) dimensions and a 90m football pitch].

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