Ending whaling: we’re running a marathon, not a sprint

In Sydney the first few weeks of the year are a great time to be at work – seriously. It’s time to regroup, get inspired and refocus. And it is just as well I returned with renewed energy - this week I have received over 500 news articles on whaling in my inbox, as the now familiar dangerous and expensive conflict that plays out each year between the whalers and those who oppose it has begun.

So here we are again, Japan’s whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary hell bent on killing their annual self-allocated quota in spite of international law and global condemnation. The usual encounters are well underway and at the end of the season the fleet will return to Japan and stockpile the whale meat because no-one is eating it. For a country that can ill afford to be propping up a terminally ill industry this is utterly illogical.

We could drive ourselves mad trying to make sense of this, but instead we are focusing our revitalised New Year energy. Our methods may not gain the same media attention as other organisations but we are working tirelessly to achieve the same goal – an end to the cruel and outdated practice of commercial whaling.

This is a marathon effort that has been running for years but hopefully we are within sight of the finish line. Continued international pressure from many fronts, coupled with falling appetite for whale meat, is making headway.

Ultimately, we believe the decision to end whaling will be taken within the corridors of power in Japan. To help Japan reach that decision we are on the ground working with local people and those in power. We are providing key decision-makers with sound scientific and economic evidence that commercial whaling is a cruel and dying industry which deserves no place in modern society, and we are helping local people to protect their marine environments and supporting responsible whale watching initiatives. This is the humane and sustainable alternative to the cruelty of whaling, and provides a valuable (and much needed) income for coastal communities.

The Australian Government continues to be a world leader in opposing whaling and we have confidence in Australia’s challenge to Japan’s whaling program in the International Court of Justice. The process is slow but we hope an early judgement from the ICJ will prevent future bloody, expensive and dangerous whaling seasons.

Lasting solutions don’t happen overnight but we are making progress and it’s enough to encourage us that ultimately we, or rather the whales, will win. In the coming months we look forward to sharing more with you about the work we are doing in Japan and none of this could happen without our supporters. We look forward to crossing that finishing line soon with you.


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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, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
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
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime