Spotlight Panama: Day two at the International Whaling Commission meeting

As I sit through discussions about whale conservation and whaling at this year’s International Whaling Commission [IWC] in Panama, emotions range from hope to disappointment; hope for the good work being done by the conservation committee of the IWC to address the many other threats facing whales today, such as ship strikes, noise pollution, entanglement and marine debris. 

Also, hope the pro-conservation countries have a majority in the commission, although disappointment that it wasn’t the three-quarters required to win the vote to establish a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.

Outside of the IWC, another interesting development has emerged. Things can’t be easy over at the Institute of Cetacean Research. Hot on the heels of our story that whale meat isn’t selling in Japan, the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), the agency that runs Japan’s commercial whaling program, is now seeking a new and unusual type of donation.

In exchange for handing over a 5000 yen (61 AUD) donation instead of the usual 2000 yen, you will not only receive the honorary title of ICR “support member”, but you will also be mailed a box of whale meat.

That’s right; we can now add mailing it to donors to our prevailing list of giving it to rural communities and putting it in school and hospital lunches – other equally impressive misuses of whale meat to emerge out of Japan.

This comes at a time when little further proof is needed that the Japanese whaling industry is unsustainable, outdated and slowly dying.

It seems there are few moves that the Institute of Cetacean Research won’t try to sustain funding for its dubious research. However, for now we can only wait with bated breath for the ICR’s next awkward attempt to unburden itself of unsold whale meat. 

-- MC

Comments: 2

6 years ago

The point we’re making is that there aren’t any ‘hard cold’ economic facts to support whaling. As for the science, Japan has conducted whaling for ‘scientific’ reasons for years but has yet to produce any meaningful research (see IFAW’s report ‘In the Name of Science’ -

Nor is whaling just another form of fishing. Whales are mammals, which are long-lived and slow to reproduce (unlike some fish species targeted commercially) which is exactly what has made them so vulnerable to over-exploitation in the past and why so many species have yet to recover from commercial whaling.

As we mention in the story, now it’s emerged that Japan can’t even sell the meat they are getting from whaling. That to me sounds like an industry stubbornly digging its heels in as opposed to providing society anything beneficial. This is without even considering the ethical implications of whaling either. There is simply no humane way to kill a whale; the standards and killing methods we witness would never be tolerated in an abattoir (see the recent outcry in Australia following revelations of abuse in abattoirs) so nor should we accept them on the high seas.

6 years ago

Whaling is just another form of fishing if it can be done sustainable than it should be allowed we need to take our emotions out of the aurguement and start looking at hard cold scientific facts.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation