Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Allies lambast Japan for return to commercial whaling

Allies lambast Japan for return to commercial whaling

Australia has expressed "extreme" disappointment at Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial hunts.

As a result, Japan will cease taking whales from the Antarctic Ocean and Southern Hemisphere - where it has been killing whales ostensibly for scientific research - and will conduct commercial whaling "within Japan's territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone", he said.

The resumption of commercial whaling is an unusual decision for Japan, which stresses multilateralism in its diplomacy, and it sparked swift criticism from environmental groups and others who believe all whales should be protected.

"Whales face a greater number of threats today that at any stage in their past", AMCS CEO Darren Kindleysides said. He added that whales and other ocean animals are struggling to cope with a variety of man-made problems, from plastic pollution to over-fishing. "Our whales need countries to work together, not go it alone".

The announcement had been widely expected and comes after Japan failed in a bid earlier this year to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling.

The ever-dwindling demand means an uncertain outlook for Japan's whaling.

The ruling undermined the legality of Japan's high-seas whaling operations and potentially removed an important source of funding through the commercial sale of sei meat, experts said.

"We have sought for resolution so as to resume sustainable commercial whaling for over 30 years". "The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling".

Japanese officials have said the whaling organisation is supposed to pursue sustainability but has become an anti-whaling body.

"It may bring a reprieve for the whale populations now protected in worldwide waters, but at a very high price".

This and the verdict of the International Court of Justice that exposed Japanese research as fraudulent, coupled with worldwide condemnation of their Southern Ocean activities has in the opinion of Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd led to this decision to declare they will openly undertake commercial whaling activities.

'Japan will now join Norway and Iceland as rogue outlaw whaling nations in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic.

It is certain to infuriate conservationists and anti-whaling countries such as Australia and New Zealand, and deepen the divide between anti-and pro-whaling countries.

Whale meat was once popular in Japan but is far less so now. The government maintains that whale hunting is an important part of Japanese culture, and supporters of the practice have accused western detractors of "cultural imperialism". "The Southern Ocean will again be a sanctuary for whales".

Suga said that Japan would notify the IWC of its decision by December 31 and that it remains committed to global co-operation on proper management of marine life even after its IWC withdrawal. Japanese officials say continuing to attend IWC meetings fulfills this obligation. "IWC has become a dysfunctional organisation".

The move marks a significant break from Japan's shift away from commercial whaling for more than 30 years.

"I doubt if a withdrawal improves the current situation", he told NHK.

"By leaving the IWC, Japan is rejecting multilateralism and setting a very bad precedent for conservation, which will likely have very serious negative consequences for the world's whales", she said. "What's most important is to have a diverse and stable food supply", he said.

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