Japan's Whaling Fleet Sails, Humpbacks on Target List

Saturday, 17 November, 2007
Shimonoseki, Japan
Defying growing international pressure and a global whaling ban, the Government of Japan launched its whaling fleet Sunday morning for an international whale sanctuary around Antarctica, where it intends to kill more than 1000 whales over the next four months. Japan claims its expanding annual whale hunts are for scientific purposes and earlier announced it would add 50 endangered humpback whales, protected from commercial hunting for more than 40 years, to its annual target list. New findings from international legal experts in recent weeks have challenged Japan’s claim that its expanding whaling is legal under international law.
Conservation organizations including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) are calling for new actions to end Japan’s “scientific” whaling. 
“Killing endangered whales for products that nobody needs is beneath the dignity of a great nation like Japan,” said IFAW Whale Program Manager Patrick Ramage.  “It’s time for Japan to put away the harpoons and join the emerging global consensus for whale conservation in the 21st century.”
A global moratorium on commercial whaling was adopted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986.  Japan’s self-allocated “scientific” whaling quota for 2007/8 includes more than 1,400 whales of seven different species:  Antarctic minke, Common minke, fin, sei, Brydes, sperm and humpback whales from the North Pacific and the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica, established by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1994.  Legal analyses by international panels of independent legal experts convened in Paris and London have found Japan’s expanding whaling to be in violation of  IWC regulations and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  For more information, visit www.ifaw.org   

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation