Japan Targets More Whales, Whaling Commission

Monday, 20 June, 2005
Ulsan, Korea
The 57th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opened today amid a storm of controversy over plans by the Government of Japan to double its annual killing of whales in an IWC-designated whale sanctuary and add humpback and fin whales to its target list. A new report released today by IFAW  (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) documents the steady expansion of “scientific” whaling by Japan since the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Japan has killed more than 8,000 whales under the guise of science since the commercial whaling ban. IWC member countries, scientific experts and leading conservation organizations have been sharply critical of Japan’s new whaling proposal leading up to this year’s annual meeting.
“Scientific whaling is more about whaling than science,” said Dr. Joth Singh, IFAW Director of Wildlife and Habitat. “Japan’s latest plan is commercial whaling in a pitiful disguise and an insult to modern science. There is no scientific justification for killing whales in the 21st century. We already have sufficient information from dead whales.  The Japanese Government should stop whaling now.”

The international community has condemned scientific whaling through 40 IWC resolutions since 1986. Japan’s new proposal has sparked formal criticism in recent weeks from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Finland and other governments. A joint NGO statement released today by IFAW and five other leading whale conservation groups also urges Japan to end its whaling activities.

IFAW experts said the outcome of this year’s meeting was too close to call given increasing efforts by Japan in recent years to recruit countries sympathetic to its position into the IWC. Cameroon, Gambia, Togo and the South Pacific island of Nauru are the newest IWC members, having joined days prior to this year’s annual meeting. “We’re fighting to save the whales and the Commission set up to protect them,” said Dr. Singh. “Japan is moving things steadily in the opposite direction.”  

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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