Japan announces plans for new Antarctic whale hunt months after World Court finds its scientific whaling illegal

Japan announces plans for new Antarctic whale hunt months after World Court find
Tuesday, 18 November, 2014
Tokyo, Japan

Japan today announced plans for a new ‘scientific’ whaling programme in the Antarctic, just months after the International Court of Justice (ICJ)  ruled its whaling in the Southern Ocean was illegal and must stop.

The Japanese government has revealed details of a new proposal, called NEWREP-A, which would see 333 minke whales harpooned in the name of science, despite the unequivocal ICJ judgment in March against its earlier ‘JARPA II’ programme. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) strongly backed the ICJ ruling when member countries met in Slovenia in September.

While Japan initially vowed to respect the ruling of the ICJ, soon after it pledged to pursue a new programme for scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean after a one-year pause. Earlier self-allocated Antarctic quotas allowed for around 1,000 whales to be hunted but in reality far fewer were taken in recent years.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) condemned the latest announcement and urged Japan to withdraw its proposal for further whale slaughter.

Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Programme Director for IFAW, said: “This proposal is an audacious step in the wrong direction and actually increases whaling the ICJ ruled illegal. The World Court judgment said Japan cannot go it alone and decide itself what represents legitimate ‘scientific’ whaling. This plan should be dead on arrival when it arrives at the IWC Scientific Committee next year.

“We are carefully reviewing this 100-page document, but it's immediately clear this plan will mean more blood in the water, an expanded Antarctic killing zone, and a sharp increase over the actual number of whales taken in recent years. It is time for Japan to finally end its outdated, cruel and unscientific killing of whales.”

In August Japan announced it was working on a new whaling programme and sought input from international scientists. Just weeks later, the IWC adopted a resolution by a strong majority which said that future ‘scientific whaling’ must first be considered by the IWC. However, the new programme would start a whole year before the next Commission meeting.

Ramage added: “Japan's approach seems to be ‘ready, fire, aim!’ Days after the World Court ruling, Japan announced it would keep killing whales on the high seas. Then it spent months straining to develop a plan that would justify that whaling. Now it announces plans to actually expand an Antarctic hunt for whales that nobody needs. If Japan really wants to study whales for science it should join the IWC-supported, multi-national, non-lethal Southern Ocean Research Programme, which produces valuable data from studying living whales in their marine environment rather than slaughtering them.”

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.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org.

Notes to Editors –

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

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