IWC agrees to stricter oversight of 'science' hunts

2016-10-27 17:09

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Portoroz - The world's whaling watchdog agreed Thursday to stricter oversight of whale hunts conducted under an exemption to a 30-year old moratorium which detractors claim Japan abuses for commercial hauls.

The resolution, opposed by Japan and fellow whalers Norway and Iceland, was adopted by majority vote at the 66th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (ICW) in Portoroz, Slovenia.

In the crosshairs of anti-whaling nations, Japan defended its annual Southern Ocean whale hunt, insisting it was gathering scientific data even as detractors accused it Thursday of harvesting meat under false pretences.

Japan denied claims at the 66th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that it was abusing an exemption to a 30-year-old whaling moratorium which allows kills for science.

And it insisted its actions were in keeping with a 2014 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found that permits issued by Japan were "not for purposes of scientific research" and instructed the country to halt its JARPA II programme.

"Reports oftentimes say (that) irrespective of the ICJ judgment Japan started the research, or in violation of the ICJ judgment... and that's not true," Japan's commissioner to the IWC, Joji Morishita told fellow delegates on Thursday.

In the judgment of the court itself, "it is clear that the ICJ assumes there can be future research activities," he insisted.

Killed pregnant minkes

"The ICJ also said... that the use of lethal sampling per se is not unreasonable in relation to the research objectives."

After the court ruling, Japan cancelled its 2014-15 hunt, only to resume it the following year under a new programme called NEWREP-A (New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean).

It killed 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean - many of them pregnant, according to observers.

The Southern Ocean hosts one of two whale sanctuaries in the world.

The issue is a deeply divisive and recurring one at the biennial meetings of the IWC, the world's whaling watchdog which turned 70 this year.

The meat from Japan's hunts ends up on supermarket shelves and in restaurants, in line with an IWC stipulation that whales taken for research must be eaten.

Under an IWC moratorium that entered into force in 1986, all whaling other than for aboriginal subsistence, or science, is prohibited.

'Deep disappointment' 

Japan hunts under the science exemption, while Norway and Iceland lodged formal objections to the moratorium and continue commercial hunts.

On the table of this year's IWC meeting is a proposal by New Zealand and Australia for a much more stringent review of scientific whaling programmes.

New Zealand's commissioner Amy Laurenson expressed her country's "deep disappointment" with Japan's resumption of whaling without IWC approval.

Japan had referred NEWREP-A to the IWC's scientific committee, but started whaling before it could complete a review, she said, and accused Tokyo of sidelining the commission.

"On the basis of the information the commission has before it, it is clear that NEWREP-A is not in fact for purposes of scientific research," the commissioner argued, and called on Japan to "cease the lethal component of NEWREP-A".

"Japan has still not justified the use of lethal sampling," she said.

Morishita insisted his country had responded to the court's concerns "in a satisfactory manner".

"We know this is a contentious issue, but facts, law and science should be the basis for further discussion on this issue," he said.

Read more on:    iwc  |  japan  |  marine life

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.