Free Trade deal with EU can help end Japan's Whaling

MEP David Martin (seated) learning about whale research on board Song of the Whale off the coast of Iceland in September 2012.There are three remaining countries in the world that engage in the cruel practice of commercial whaling and two of them are European – Iceland and Norway.

Ironically, it is the third one, Japan, that the International Fund for Animal Welfare might be able to influence the most through the European Union (EU).

The EU and Japan are about to negotiate a free trade deal and IFAW is trying to convince decision-makers in the EU institutions that there should be clauses in the trade deal requiring Japan to stop whaling. We’re off to a great start.

The international trade committee of the European Parliament included among other things two really important steps in its guidance on negotiations:

  1. An end to so-called scientific whaling and
  2. the designation of large ocean and seas sanctuaries in which all whaling is indefinitively prohibited

You can see the full guidance text here.

This is a remarkable victory considering that the strong language comes from a committee which usually focuses on trade & business interests, and does not tend to easily accept additions related to conservation and/or animal welfare.

We can definitively thank David Martin MEP, for putting the text in there.

Just last month MEP Martin visited IFAW’s non-invasive whale research vessel Song of the Whale in Iceland and called for an end to commercial whaling.

Instead he suggested focusing on sustainable non-lethal whale watching as a solid alternative to killing whales.

We’re a long way still in the process of getting Japan to stop whaling.

The Parliament itself will vote next week on the proposed text (as opposed to just the trade committee of the parliament), the other EU institutions need to weigh in, and of course there is the negotiating process with Japan.

We’ll be following the negotiations over the next couple of years and we’ll keep fighting for whales through the process.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime