Turnbull to raise whaling with Japan after growing public pressure

Wednesday, 16 December, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement today that he will raise whaling with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe needs to be more than just diplomatic rhetoric, and must develop into a plan of action to halt the hunt, environment groups said.


More than 55,000 people have urged Mr Turnbull to put this season’s Japanese whale hunt at the top of his agenda when meeting with Mr Abe on Friday.  


IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), Greenpeace Australia Pacific GetUp and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, representing some 56,000 citizens who have petitioned the PM, delivered their message to Mr Turnbull’s office today.


A 3m inflated whale waited with its luggage on Sydney harbour for Mr Turnbull with a sign reading “Malcolm, don’t forget me” before campaigners handed over the petition at his electoral office in Edgecliff.  


“Japan’s hunt is not scientific research, it’s nothing more than commercial whaling, and it’s been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle.


“When Mr Turnbull visits Japan, he must remind Mr Abe that Japan should accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ, as it promised, and abandon the whale hunt.”   


“While Japan thumbs its nose at international law, 333 whales will suffer a cruel and pointless death this summer for science nobody respects and products nobody needs; Prime Minister Turnbull must be the voice of all  Australians who abhor this unnecessary slaughter when he travels to Japan,” said Matthew Collis, Policy and Campaigns Manager at IFAW.

"Australia is a major trading partner of Japan's. Today, 56,0000 Australians call on Prime Minister Turnbull to use his unique position of influence to demand an end to illegal commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean," said Sally Rugg, Campaigns Director at GetUp!


“Prime Minister Turnbull must tell the Prime Minister of Japan to listen to the courts, to listen to the scientists and to bring back the fleet. He must leave no doubt that Australia will not watch from the sidelines whilst Japan once again hunts Antarctic whales in breach of international law. Australia has stood up to Japan before, they must act again to challenge Japanese whaling,” said Kate Simpson, Campaigner at the Australian Marine Conservation Society.


In 2014, the ICJ ruled that Japan’s research whaling program was not, in fact, designed for scientific research and was therefore illegal.  Japan, however, proposed a new program called “NEWREP-A” which would target 3,996 minke whales over next 12 years.


In May 2015, the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission stated that the new programme “contained insufficient information” and demanded that the Japanese government provide more information to prove the new programme was serving scientific purposes.


Despite promising that it would abide by its decision, in October 2015 the Japanese government announced to the United Nations that it would no longer accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ over its use of ocean resources. This is a significant reversal of the Japanese government’s previous position, which had accepted and endorsed the need to abide by international law and legal findings.


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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