EU must urge Republic of Korea to publicly reject whaling plans

Wednesday, 5 September, 2012
Brussels, Belgium

On the eve of the opening of the world’s largest and most important conservation meeting, the EU must urge host country Korea to publicly reject its plans to slaughter whales.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Conservation Congress, which takes place once every four years, is due to begin in Jeju tomorrow (Thursday), just weeks after Korea provoked international outrage by announcing its intention to begin harpooning an unquantified number of minke whales for so-called scientific research.*

After widespread condemnation, Korean government officials initially appeared to distance themselves from the announcement, made by the Korean delegation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama in July. However, there has still been no official statement by the Korean government that it has rejected the plan and it has until this December to submit a proposal for scientific whaling to the IWC.

“Europeans are clear in their desire to end this 19th century anachronism,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Director. “European leaders need to act on this mandate and urge Korea to publicly renounce any return to this cruel and unnecessary activity.”

IUCN has issued a position statement on the proposal, urging Korea to reconsider its plan and instead continue to support non-lethal whale research in Korean waters –

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “There is a certain irony that at the same time Korea is hosting this vital international conservation congress, it could be planning to train its harpoons on an endangered whale population.

“We urge Korea to state publicly and categorically that it is abandoning its ill-thought out whaling plans.”

IFAW believes that so-called scientific whaling is merely commercial whaling by another name, producing sham science which is not taken seriously by the reputable scientific community.

The whales that would be exploited, J-stock minke whales, are considered endangered by the IWC scientific committee. In addition, there is a bycatch (entanglement in fishing gear) averaging 150-200 whales per year. Some of these whales face an additional threat as they are also taken in Japanese waters. The population is predicted to decline further if current bycatch levels continue.

Korea has previously taken a strong position against illegal whaling, with convicted offenders receiving prison terms or large fines.

IFAW opposes all commercial or so-called scientific whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale.

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