Japan Begins 12th Scientific Whale Hunt With New Boat | WWF

Japan Begins 12th Scientific Whale Hunt With New Boat

Posted on
06 November 1998
6 November, 1998

GLAND, Switzerland -- WWF urged Japan to reconsider its large-scale scientific whaling as it flagged off its whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean for the 12th year in a row. Japan continues to ignore the weight of international public opinion against large-scale scientific whaling and in a sanctuary area.This year, a brand new and more powerful multi-million dollar catcher boat has replaced one of the three whale catcher boats that accompany the factory ship.

The launch of this new boat shows Japanese research whaling' is becoming more aggressive, said Cassandra Phillips, WWF's Coordinator for whales and the Antarctic. Japan continues to defy the majority of International Whaling Commission (IWC) members. For years now, the IWC has called on Japan to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. It has also ruled that lethal research' of such dimensions was not necessary.

Only in April this year, the Japanese whaling fleet, which normally includes a factory ship with three whale catcher boats and one sighting boat, returned from the Antarctic with 438 minke whales. That brought the total number of minke whales caught by Japan in the name of science in the Southern Ocean to 3767. In addition, Japan has caught 398 minkes in the north Pacific over the past five summers, also for so-called scientific purposes. The meat from all these whales is sold for high prices on the Japanese market, with some meat used for school lunches to try to foster the taste for whale-meat among children.

The whole Southern Ocean was declared a sanctuary for whales in 1994 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but the IWC is powerless to stop Japan's research whaling. Japan is stretching the provisions of the 50-year-old Whaling Convention to the limit by exploiting the clause which was originally intended to allow for small scale genuine scientific research.

Japan is also exerting additional pressure to try to undermine the IWC's authority, added Ms Phillips. This is clear from the talks that Japan has been pursuing with neighbouring countries to establish a regional resource management body as a rival to the IWC, as well as an invitation' to Morocco to join the group of countries that are members of the IWC just to increase Japan's influence in the body.

A second meeting of the IWC commissioners of Japan, China, South Korea and Russia was just held 13-15 October at the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Fund in Akasaka, Tokyo. At this meeting, discussion focussed on furthering four-nation cooperation on research and the management of cetacean resources, which had been agreed at a first meeting held in February this year. A third such meeting is also planned.

Moreover, just over a month ago, the Moroccan Minister of Fisheries paid a visit to Japan at the invitation of the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Fund. As well as discussing payments for Japanese tuna fishing within Morocco's 200 mile EEZ, Morocco was asked to become a full member of the IWC and to take a position of sustainable utilization of marine life.

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Contact Cassandra Phillips +221 820 21 22 (cphillips@wwfnet.org)or Someshwar Singh +41 22 364 9553.(ssingh@wwfnet.org)

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