Japan’s controversial proposal which could have ended global ban on commercial whaling fails

Japan’s controversial proposal which could have ended global ban on commercial w
Friday, 14 September, 2018
Florianopolis, Brazil

A controversial proposal by Japan to effectively end the global ban on commercial whaling has failed after being voted down by conservation-minded countries at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, prompting Japan to suggest they may quit the forum in future if they do not get their way.

Japan’s ‘Way Forward’ package aimed to commit the IWC to establishing commercial whaling quotas from 2020 onwards for some whale populations, as well as easing the voting requirements for contentious issues by convening a special diplomatic conference to change the Convention. Yet the proposal failed to address how any potential future commercial whaling would be managed effectively; and would have blurred the distinction between commercial and aboriginal subsistence whaling.

The divisive proposal required three-quarters majority support when presented before the 75 attending government delegations at the 67th IWC meeting in Florianopolis, Brazil but was roundly rejected, failing to achieve even a simple majority (27 for, 41 against, two abstentions).

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) had strongly opposed Japan’s proposal. IFAW has encouraged attending governments to instead support important proposals taking forward the pioneering conservation work of the IWC to help protect whales, which face more threats today than ever before.

Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Marine Programme Director, said: “The failure of this dangerous package proposal is good news for whales. Its adoption would have been a big step backwards for the IWC, returning us to the bygone days of open commercial whaling instead of becoming a modern conservation body. The real way forward for whales is conservation and responsible whale watching, not cruel and unnecessary whale killing.”

“We are pleased IWC governments roundly rejected the idea of a special diplomatic conference to change the IWC’s rules; we don’t need a change of rules, we need whaling nations to respect the existing ones. Japan sought to establish a ‘sustainable whaling’ committee, yet time and again has rejected moves by the IWC’s own Scientific Committee to make its whaling more sustainable. Unfortunately, what we may be seeing here is simply another attempt to circumvent established rules and procedures.”

Ramage added: “Perhaps the only thing more familiar than Japan’s oft repeated threat to leave the IWC is its disrespect for Commission decisions it doesn’t like.”

In contrast to Japan’s proposal, host country Brazil’s Florianopolis Declaration, passed by majority vote yesterday, presents a positive vision for the IWC and recognises the vital role whales play in the ecosystem as well as the importance of whale watching to coastal communities. IFAW welcomed this important victory for conservation and whale protection.

IFAW continues to urge member countries to support all important proposals taking forward the successfully functioning conservation work of the IWC. Resolutions aimed at tackling human-made underwater noise and entanglements in ghost gear (lost or abandoned fishing gear) were successfully adopted and discussions earlier in the week highlighted the considerable work being conducted by the IWC Conservation Committee on other threats to whales such as ship strikes and bycatch.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Responsible whale watching offers a humane and economically viable alternative that is better for whales and provides more sustainable livelihoods for people.



Notes to Editors

IFAW whale experts are attending the meeting and are available for interview. Skype interviews are available on request.

For more information or to arrange interviews with IFAW’s team at IWC please contact Clare Sterling in Brazil on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

Follow IFAW updates on Twitter via @Action4IFAW and @IFAWUKPress

IWC documents are available here: http://iwc.int/iwc67

Images available for media use by registering with www.ifawimages.com


About IFAW

Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, we rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with governments and local communities, our experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.



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