International scientists uphold expert findings that Japan does NOT need to kill more whales for ‘scientific research’

International scientists uphold expert findings that Japan does NOT need to kill
Friday, 19 June, 2015
London, UK

Japan does not need to kill any whales for ‘scientific research’ this year according to scientists from the majority of countries represented at the recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Scientific Committee.

Japan plans to resume Antarctic whaling later this year after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in March last year that its Southern Ocean whaling programme JARPA-II was not for scientific purposes and was therefore illegal.

Despite initially vowing to abide by the decision of the World Court, Japan announced plans for further Antarctic whaling as part of a programme with a different name (NEWREP-A), to begin in the Southern Ocean after a pause of just one year.

The report of the IWC’s Scientific Committee, released today two weeks after the conclusion of its annual meeting in San Diego, reveals lack of consensus on Japan’s plans as the Committee included the proponents of the whaling programme, but members from the majority of countries represented on the Committee concluded that ‘commencement of lethal sampling in the 2015/16 season was not justified’.

In February this year, the IWC convened a meeting of an independent Expert Panel in Tokyo ahead of the review of the full Scientific Committee to avoid this conflict of interest. The Panel concluded that Japan’s proposal had not demonstrated a need for whales to be killed to achieve its objectives. The Panel specified work that was necessary to determine whether there could be a need. The Scientific Committee in its report found that not all the questions raised by the Panel had been addressed, and agreed to review progress again next year.

Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Global Whale Programme Director, said: “With yet another body of experts finding against its whaling, we urge Japan to abandon its plans for further slaughter. The World Court, an Expert Panel and now the majority of countries in the IWC’s Scientific Committee have also found that Japan’s Antarctic whaling is not for the purposes of science and stated that there is no need to harpoon more whales.

“This season whales in the Southern Ocean were safe from commercial slaughter for the first time in more than a century, and this should continue. We urge Japan to recognise that non-lethal whale research is the way forward.”

Japan wants to target 333 minke whales a year for the next 12 years; around 4,000 whales in total. This is despite limited appetite for whale meat and international opposition to whaling.

Since the global moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced, Japan has killed more than 14,000 whales in the name of science, the majority of these in the Southern Ocean.

Last year the IWC requested member nations not to issue any further permits for killing whales for supposedly scientific purposes until the Commission has evaluated them on the advice of its Scientific Committee. Despite this, Japan proposes to restart scientific whaling in the Antarctic this December, without waiting for the Commission’s assessment at its next meeting in September 2016.           

IFAW opposes all commercial whaling as inherently cruel and works in whaling countries to promote whale watching as a humane and sustainable alternative that is better for whales and for coastal communities.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email

Notes to Editors

The 2015 IWC Scientific Committee Report can be viewed here –

Japan also hunts whales in the North Pacific, under the programme JARPNII. Although the ICJ case did not specifically address whaling in the North Pacific, the judgment also expected Japan to take the court ruling into account with respect to JARPNII (which targeted up to 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde’s whales, 220 minke whales and 10 sperm whales per year).

Following the ICJ judgment, Japan changed the number of whales targeted in the North Pacific to 90 sei whales, 25 Bryde’s whales and 102 minke whales.

A previous IWC Expert Panel that reviewed JARPNII also noted the absence of a scientific justification for the number of whales killed in the North Pacific in relation to quantifiable research objectives. The JARPNII programme is due to be reviewed by a new Expert Panel in 2016.

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 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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