Whaling Commission Saved, Whales Still in Trouble

Friday, 24 June, 2005
Ulsan, Korea
The 57th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ended today following five days of unsuccessful attempts by the Government of Japan to persuade the world body to endorse its plans for increased whaling. Since an IWC ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, Japan has killed more than 8,000 whales, abusing an IWC provision that permits whaling for scientific purposes. 
Japan formally presented plans to double its “scientific” whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary around Antarctica and added endangered humpback and fin whales to its target list at this week’s session.  A clear majority of IWC member countries yesterday passed a strongly worded resolution calling on Japan to withdraw its new scientific whaling plan.   

“The conservation majority at the IWC is saved, but the whales are not.  Japan is killing hundreds of whales right now in the North Pacific and plans to kill a thousand more in an IWC sanctuary around Antarctica later this year,” said Dr. Joth Singh, IFAW Director of Wildlife and Habitat.  “This week’s rhetoric was encouraging, but meaningful action by other countries is needed to stop Japan’s slaughter in the name of science.”

Japan was disappointed in its bid to deliver majority support for any of its whaling proposals here, but its spokesperson vowed to that “the reversal of history -- the turning point is soon to come” in the global body, which maintained a narrow majority in favor of whale conservation throughout this week’s meeting.  Four new members –Nauru, Gambia, Togo and Cameroon joined the IWC days prior to this week’s meeting.  Japan has indicated it expects more new members to join before the next IWC annual meeting to be held in St. Kitts and Nevis next year.

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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