Japan, Deceptions, and the Death of the Whaling Ban

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Evidence that Japan has used misleading and inaccurate information in its attempts to lift the ban on commercial whaling has been released by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and Japanese group IKAN, today.

The Government of Japan is not acting in the best interest of these towns, as it claims. It is simply using the four towns as an excuse to overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Next week, a proposal that would lift the ban by granting Japan legal commercial whaling quotas in its coastal waters in return for it voluntarily reducing its controversial scientific whaling in Antarctica, is to be discussed in Rome at a special intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Now, a new report, ‘Small Type Whaling, A false choice for the IWC’, reveals that the longstanding case Japan has put forward to the IWC for these quotas is inaccurate and flawed.

WDCS’s Sue Fisher said: “The reality is that Japan does not need coastal whaling and it is attempting to blackmail the IWC into doing its bidding. The real danger of the deal being considered is that it implies that coastal whaling is the lesser of two evils, but if adopted, it would lift the ban on commercial whaling and open the floodgates for other countries to restart or expand their own whaling. The IWC is being given a false choice.”

For two decades, Japan has claimed that the ban on commercial whaling caused acute economic hardship and cultural disintegration in four coastal towns that it maintained had a longstanding history and dependence on hunting minke whales in Small Type Whaling operations (characterised by the use of small boats hunting on day trips). Yet, two of these towns, Taiji and Wada, have no history of this method of hunting minke whales. The other two towns, Abashiri and Ayukawa, only began 60 to 70 years ago.

Japan has attempted to hide that fact that these towns initially benefited from the whaling ban. Any hardship came later, when their small local operations were out-competed by Japan’s massive so-called ‘scientific whaling programmes’. Today, the towns benefit from keeping their whaling outside the regulation of the IWC, as they continue hunting species of small whales and dolphins that Japan claims are not covered by the ban.

WDCS’s Sue Fisher continued: “The Government of Japan is not acting in the best interest of these towns, as it claims. It is simply using the four towns as an excuse to overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling.”

The ban on commercial whaling has been hailed as one of the world’s most important conservation victories. It protected whale species and populations brought to the brink of extinction through over hunting. WDCS and IKAN believe there is no justification today for resuming commercial whaling.

WDCS’s Sue Fisher concluded: “Whaling has long proven itself to be unsustainable, unviable and impossible to regulate. What kind of bubble is the IWC in, considering deals to exchange one kind of grossly subsidised whaling for another? There is a whole new world order today brought about by the current economic crisis and whaling has no place in it. No kind of whaling is an industry worth saving, swapping, supporting or subsidising in 2009.”

WDCS calls on IWC member countries to reject any deal that suggests commercial whaling should survive in any form.

For more information and a copy of the report please contact the WDCS Press Office on 01249 449 534, 07834 498 277

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