Japan deserves worldwide condemnation for commercial whaling masquerading as ‘science’

By on September 27, 2017 with 6 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

In a flouting of international conservation values, Japan just announced that its latest hunt, which concluded Tuesday, has claimed the lives of 177 minke and sei whales – adding to the toll of thousands that its whalers have claimed in an era when just about the entire civilized world has abandoned the practice.

Japan’s commercial whaling is like a bad dream from which the rest of the world cannot wake up. Year after year, its government-sponsored fleet trawls the world’s oceans to kill whales as a meat-gathering exercise, while trying to hoodwink the global public with a claim that it’s doing so for science. This despite the fact that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2014 rejected Japan’s assertions and ordered an immediate halt to Japan’s other scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean. This despite the fact that in April 2017, 42 International Whaling Commission (IWC) signatory nations adopted a resolution calling on Japan to abide by the ICJ ruling. This despite the fact that the signatories to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling never envisioned the scientific exemption clause in the treaty to support commercial catches. This despite the fact that the market for whale meat continues to decline in Japan. And this despite the fact that global public opinion, with few exceptions, roundly condemns and disapproves of Japan’s flagrant disregard for international law and comity between nations, something that’s been in evidence again and again through the years.

The HSUS and Humane Society International have been campaigning to protect whales from whaling and other threats for nearly half a century, and the passage of the global commercial moratorium was a proud and decisive victory, one that has spared countless thousands of whales since the mid-1980s. There are just three nations involved in commercial whaling — Japan, Norway, and Iceland — and their intransigence in the face of almost universal censure astonishes me every time I think about it. Their machinations at the meetings of the International Whaling Commission demean their standing in the community of nations, and waste a lot of time and energy that could be better spent on the pressing challenges of ocean health, climate change, toxic pollution, marine debris and entanglement, ship strikes, and other threats. Quite apart from the tragedy of animal deaths from whaling by an effectively dead and abandoned industry, the continued predation of the world’s whales by these three nations represents the worst sort of distraction from the urgent conservation work we could all be doing to help all marine creatures and their habitats. On top of all that, who doesn’t see that whale watching and ecotourism hold far more economic promise and benefit than killing the animals?

Getting the United States and other nations to stand up to Japan when it comes to whaling is a battle that does not end, whether or not a hunt has taken place or recently concluded. It involves mobilization at the biennial meeting of the IWC itself, and associated maneuvers to thwart the whalers in that body. It involves pressing the federal government to exercise available options and channels for bringing pressure to bear on a nation that in other respects has proven itself a strong partner. It involves strict attention to the dividing line between modern commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling, which is practiced in the United States and a few other countries, and has enjoyed special protection. It involves sustained efforts to shift public opinion and curtail market demand for whale meat in Japan. And it involves an unyielding determination to see our nation and others adopt the strongest possible agenda of whale and ocean conservation across the board.

Right now, in the U.S. Congress, Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is advancing a resolution to urge the United States to do more to establish itself as a true global leader in whale conservation and protection, by expressing the strongest possible opposition to commercial whaling and by confronting Japan for its wrongdoing. As we gear up for IWC 2018 late next year, we’ll do even more to press the case against whaling and its defenders, while continuing our efforts to diminish market support and public opinion favoring whaling in Japan itself.

Humane Society International, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Elisse De Sio says:

    Your comments are educating and factual, Mr. Pacelle. It is baffling that Iceland, Japan, and Norway still continue this abhorrent whale destruction amid worldwide opposition. We do need to continue to exert pressure on them to learn humane ways of earning a living that do not involve the destruction of animals. Indeed, I fear that it will be a difficult task, and hope that we can succeed in this.

  2. Nancy Telese says:

    Japan also murders porpoises each year after trapping them in a bay where they are stabbed to death Thousands are gathered after rounding them up pushing them into the tiny bay to be murdered These are intelligent animals with feelings What a crime The world ignores all these animal crimes as if it doesn’t matter The people who run this world are very sick and cruel to let these unimaginable practices continue Ban everything from Japan and all countries who torture and murder animals ! That seems to be everywhere What a horrific world for innocent and helpless animals

    • Johan van Voorst says:

      I agree, only a full boycott of these countries products will help, we have to hurt them in their wallets, that will make them listen.

  3. John Bachman says:

    Please co-ordinate an effort by ALL animal Rights and Welfare groups to confront Japan and force our government to take a stand against the Japanese whaling and the Taiji dolphin slaughter. The Olympic committee should also be pressured to threaten a boycott if these atrocities do not stop.

  4. Michele says:

    If the video I posted on FB which describes how whales changes climate is in deed true then this is the “scientific” study that should really solidify the reason Japan, Norway and Iceland need to stop this horrendous act. We need to get our planet back to sustainable.

  5. Lourdes Jacques says:

    Please devote your efforts on making sure the world takes a stance towards ending the slaughter as this will create a ripple effect towards other nations currently upholding “traditions” based on barbaric practices against living beings.
    Thank you

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