IFAW Urges China to Say No to Japanese Whaling

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Beijing China
Prior to the 57th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting  in Ulsan Korea next week, International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) warns of renewed threats to the world’s whale species and urges China to say “No” to whaling. 
Japan threatens to break the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling set up by the IWC. Senior Japanese official Yoshimasa Hayashi told AFP in Washington recently "We are running out of patience after waiting for 20 years," Media reports reveal that Japan proposes to double the quota of whales killed disguise as “scientific research, expand whaling to include other species of whales and conduct whaling in internationally established whale sanctuaries.

The news immediately sparked an international outcry.  In China, more than 60 groups joined an IFAW event titled  “China Can Say ‘No’—Vote for Whale Conservation, Say No to Japanese Whaling” held on the campus of Beijing University in Beijing.  Chinese marine mammal biologist, Professor ZHU Qian gave the keynote speech, highlighting the conservation concerns for whales that live, breed and migrate in the waters surrounding China and urging the Chinese delegation to the IWC take a pro active stand for the protection of whales.

Participants at the event including representatives from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) China management authority, international conservation groups, local Chinese non-governmental organizations, Beijing embassies of whale friendly nations and college students. The voices at the meeting unanimously appeals for China to vote for the protection of whales at the IWC. 

“Marine mammals face numerous threats such as pollution, ship collision, fisheries by-catch. In the waters along China’s east coast, whaling by Japan has directly and severely depleted whale species.  Professor Zhu says, “ Whales are migratory marine mammals that don’t belong to any country. Many species swim thousands of miles between their breeding ground and feeding ground, which makes them wildlife that belong to all nations in the world. Japan does not have the unilateral right to kill whales. 

Under the guise of “scientific research”, Japan has been breaking IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling and taking more than 700 whales each year. Whale meat from many endangered whale species is found in the over 20,000 tons of whale meat sold on the markets in Japan every year.

“China as a non-whaling country has a moral obligation to protect marine resources in its oceans and seas.” Says Grace Ge Gabriel, deputy director of IFAW’s Wildlife and Habitat Protection Department.  “As China is playing an increasingly important role in the region and around the world economically and politically, it should also take a leadership role in protecting the marine wildlife. Particularly, China should be able to tell Japan that its aggressive stand to expand the commercial exploitation of the world’s whales, can not be tolerated any longer. China can say ‘No.’”   

Dr. Meng Xianlin, deputy director of China’s CITES Management Authority concurs, “China does not do whaling, nor do we want to see other nations violating CITES regulations and kill whales under the guise of ‘scientific research’. Whaling is contradictory and inharmonious to the voices of whale protection from the international community.” 

The event ended by participating organizations, including Conservation International and Green Peace signing an open letter urging China to take the position of whale conservation and against whaling.  

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