Independent experts slam Japan’s new whaling plan and declare no more whales need to be killed for Antarctic research

Monday, 13 April, 2015
Tokyo, Japan

An independent expert review[i] of Japan’s new plan for whaling in the Southern Ocean, published today, failed to back the proposal for further slaughter and concluded that no more whales need to be harpooned for Antarctic research.

In today’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) report, a Panel of top scientists has concluded that Japan has not demonstrated any need to kill any more whales in the Antarctic. This is a major blow to Japan’s latest attempt to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale sanctuary.

Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Programme Director for IFAW, said: “It’s 2015. You don’t need to be a scientific expert to know there’s no need to slaughter whales in the Southern Ocean.  We urge Japan to continue the non-lethal research work it embarked on this year, and to present the results of that modern approach to the IWC when it meets in September 2016.” 

In the view of the Panel, the new whaling proposal contained insufficient information about its scientific objectives.  The Panel recommended further non-lethal research and analyses that should be completed before any further lethal research can be considered. The Panel’s finding is also summarised in a letter published in the leading science journal Nature[ii].

The new programme, NEWREP-A (New Scientific Whale Research Programme in the Antarctic Ocean) includes plans to harpoon up to 333 minkes per year for the next 12 years. Earlier self-allocated Antarctic quotas allowed for around 1,000 whales to be hunted but in reality far fewer were taken in the last few years - 252 minke whales in the 2013/14 season.

In March 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Japan’s programme of whaling in the Antarctic (JARPA II, which ran from 2005) was not “for purposes of scientific research”[iii], ruling it was illegal and must stop.

Japan initially abided by the ICJ judgment by formally discontinuing the JARPA II programme, but shortly after stated that it would prepare a replacement programme and in November 2014 announced a new plan for ‘research whaling’ in the Antarctic to begin in late 2015. The Panel’s finding that the new whaling proposal lacks clear scientific objectives means that it would also be illegal under the criteria established by the court.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has long encouraged Japan to turn to humane research instead of killing whales for sham science.

“The ICJ ruling ensured that for the first season in more than a century, whales in the Southern hemisphere were not hunted for commercial purposes. It is disappointing, and beneath the dignity of so great a nation, that Japan’s fisheries bureaucrats would defy the world’s highest court and try to re-start illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean,” continued Ramage  

The IWC’s Independent Expert Review was held in Tokyo in February this year and was tasked with reviewing Japan’s NEWREP-A but according to very narrow criteria that were put in place prior to the ICJ judgment.

In September 2014, the IWC strongly backed the ICJ judgment and adopted a process to ensure that any future whaling permits are only issued for purposes that are genuinely scientific according to the criteria established by the Court. The resolution specifies that proposals for scientific takes be evaluated by its Scientific Committee and reviewed by the Commission for consistency with the ICJ criteria, before they are issued.

In announcing the programme to recommence Antarctic whaling in late 2015, Japan is ignoring this IWC review process. Japan has also ignored the Court’s ruling that the issuing country cannot be sole arbiter of the validity of its own permits.

The plans are set to be further examined by the Scientific Committee of the IWC when it meets in San Diego, US, in May but the next full plenary meeting of the IWC will not take place until September 2016.

IFAW opposes all commercial or so-called scientific whaling as there is no humane way to kill a whale. Instead, IFAW supports whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative which is better for whales and coastal communities.

Ends

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Notes to Editors –

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.

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling, Japan continued 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.

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.

In January 2015 a reduced number of Japanese boats headed to the Antarctic to carry out sighting surveys, biopsy work and photo identification of whales led by the country’s Institute of Cetacean Research, but not as an alternative to the further killing of whales.

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

 



[i] Report of the Expert Panel to review the proposal by Japan forNEWREP-A

https://portal.iwc.int/event_documents/view/25 (first register with portal.iwc.int to view document)

[ii]  Nature Vol. 520 p. 157, April 9. www.nature.com (paywall).

[iii] International Court of Justice ruling: https://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/148/18160.pdf

 

 

 

Extract from Expert Panel report:

 

Executive Summary

The Panel recognised the considerable work that had been undertaken by the proponents in developing the NEWREP-A proposal. However, as summarised under Items 8.1-8.7 and detailed in the body of the report, the present proposal contains insufficient information for the Panel complete a full review. The Panel has made a number of important recommendations for additional work that the Panel believes are essential to be completed before a full review of the programme under Annex P and Resolution 2014-5 can be completed. The recommended analyses can be conducted with existing samples/data and new non-lethal sampling efforts. In terms of timelines, the Panel recognises the value in maintaining long-term datasets. However, the Panel agrees that if there is a short (e.g. 2-3 year) gap in the existing series to enable the recommended analyses to be completed related to fully quantifying and prioritising sub-objectives and determining appropriate techniques (lethal or nonlethal), this will not have serious consequences for monitoring change. The Panel therefore agrees that the recommendations in Table 1 should be completed and the results evaluated before there is a final conclusion on lethal techniques and sample sizes. This consideration does not affect the non-lethal components of the proposal, which can be undertaken without discontinuation of the current research. The Panel’s view on the need for new samples and/or data feasibility, relevance, and contributions to the RMP, scientific research and conservation and management for aspects of Primary Objective I and II are summarised in Tables 2 and 3, respectively.

 

In summary, with the information presented in the proposal, the Panel was not able to determine whether lethal sampling is necessary to achieve the two major objectives; therefore, the current proposal does not demonstrate the need for lethal sampling to achieve those objectives.

[1] Report of the Expert Panel to review the proposal by Japan forNEWREP-A

https://portal.iwc.int/event_documents/view/25 (first register with portal.iwc.int to view document)

[1]  Nature Vol. 520 p. 157, April 9. www.nature.com (paywall).

[1] International Court of Justice ruling: https://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/148/18160.pdf

 

 

 

Extract from Expert Panel report:

 

Executive Summary

The Panel recognised the considerable work that had been undertaken by the proponents in developing the NEWREP-A proposal. However, as summarised under Items 8.1-8.7 and detailed in the body of the report, the present proposal contains insufficient information for the Panel complete a full review. The Panel has made a number of important recommendations for additional work that the Panel believes are essential to be completed before a full review of the programme under Annex P and Resolution 2014-5 can be completed. The recommended analyses can be conducted with existing samples/data and new non-lethal sampling efforts. In terms of timelines, the Panel recognises the value in maintaining long-term datasets. However, the Panel agrees that if there is a short (e.g. 2-3 year) gap in the existing series to enable the recommended analyses to be completed related to fully quantifying and prioritising sub-objectives and determining appropriate techniques (lethal or nonlethal), this will not have serious consequences for monitoring change. The Panel therefore agrees that the recommendations in Table 1 should be completed and the results evaluated before there is a final conclusion on lethal techniques and sample sizes. This consideration does not affect the non-lethal components of the proposal, which can be undertaken without discontinuation of the current research. The Panel’s view on the need for new samples and/or data feasibility, relevance, and contributions to the RMP, scientific research and conservation and management for aspects of Primary Objective I and II are summarised in Tables 2 and 3, respectively.

 

In summary, with the information presented in the proposal, the Panel was not able to determine whether lethal sampling is necessary to achieve the two major objectives; therefore, the current proposal does not demonstrate the need for lethal sampling to achieve those objectives.

 

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