IUCN votes for an end to Japan’s so-called scientific whaling

The IUCN, which has 89 member countries including the US, the UK and Japan itsel
Wednesday, 31 August, 2016

(London – 31 August 2016) – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has voted overwhelmingly against Japan’s so-called scientific whaling in the Antarctic and the North Pacific.

The IUCN, which has 89 member countries including the US, the UK and Japan itself, voted by a large majority for a halt to Japan’s scientific whaling, which the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) believes is merely commercial whaling by another name.

The Union’s four-yearly World Conservation Congress starts in Honolulu, Hawaii, this Thursday (September 1). For the first time, several decisions were taken by electronic vote prior to the opening of the congress.

The motion, which was passed by a 95% majority, calls on Japan to stop issuing the ‘Special Permits’ with which the Japanese government authorises takes of whales for supposed scientific purposes, enabling it to circumvent the global ban on commercial whaling.

So far in 2016, the Japanese whaling fleet has used Special Permits to take more than 300 minke whales, including 200 pregnant females, 25 Bryde’s whales and 90 sei whales.

Japan ignored international law and global opposition to resume its illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean. In March 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that its so-called scientific whaling in the Antarctic was illegal and not for the purposes of science.

Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Programme Director for IFAW, said: “It is good to see another respected and influential forum like the IUCN lend its voice to this issue and send a clear message to Japan that its cruel and unscientific commercial whaling is unacceptable.

“This follows not just the ruling of the World Court but the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and independent experts reporting to the IWC have shown that Japan’s rationale for its so-called research is spurious.”

Japan’s whaling programme comes up for scrutiny again at the 66th Meeting of the IWC in Portoroz, Slovenia, this October. In view of the large-scale abuse of the Special Permit system, many members of the Commission have concluded that the unilateral issuance of Special Permits by individual governments should be ended, and that in future only permits pre-approved by the IWC should be recognised.

Ramage added: “It is time for Japan to abandon its whaling and join the many other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom in studying living whales in their ocean environment in the 21st Century.

“IFAW continues to call on anti-whaling governments to bring international law to bear on Japan again in a bid to end its needless slaughter of whales once and for all.”

The theme of the 16th World Conservation Congress is Planet at the Crossroads.

IFAW supports responsible whale watching as an alternative to the cruelty of whaling, but opposes all commercial or so-called scientific whaling as there is no humane way to kill a whale.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org. Alternatively visit www.ifaw.org

Notes to Editors –

IFAW encourages Japan to join the 10-nation SORP (Southern Ocean Research Partnership) founded by Australia to coordinate non-lethal whale research.

In February 2013, IFAW launched a report, ‘The Economics of Japanese Whaling’, which showed that the failing whaling industry in Japan is propped up by millions of dollars a year in public money. Annual subsidies average around 782 million yen (US $9.78m).

The findings demonstrate that while whaling is unprofitable and catering to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market, whale watching is, by contrast, a growth industry.

Whale watching currently generates around US$2.1 billion annually for coastal communities across the world. In Japan alone, whale watching generated around US$22 million in 2008. There are currently about 30 whale watching operators working from a dozen locations around the Japanese coast.

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling, Japan continues to hunt whales under the loophole of ‘scientific whaling’, yet while the meat is put on sale in restaurants and supermarkets, little science has been produced from the slaughter of these animals.

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


Post a comment

Press Contact


Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation