Japan’s landing and sale of sei whale meat violates international law
Japan has been catching sei whales, allegedly for purposes of scientific research, and selling the meat and blubber in domestic retail markets in clear in violation of the Convention. All great whales are accorded the highest level of protection under the Convention and thus it is strictly illegal to take them from international waters for commercial trade. Japan has registered reservations on the listing other great whales under this category which means it does not have to abide by the Convention for those species. However in the case of the sei whale, Japan has not raised such reservations and is thus still bound by CITES rules.
Leigh Henry, Wildlife Policy Director, WWF US stated: “Japan has been conducting so-called “scientific” whaling for years, landing thousands of tons of whale meat and actively marketing the products. Given the availability of non-lethal research methods, it is clear that Japan’s hunts use science as a guise to undermine the global moratorium on commercial whaling, in place since 1983.
Today’s decision makes clear that Japan’s landing and sale of sei whale meat and other products for retail trade is an unequivocal violation of international law. Despite this clear conclusion, the Standing Committee deferred any action until their next meeting in May 2019, even though this issue has been flagged for Parties for 15 years.”
Note for editors:
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) entered into force in 1975, in response to concerns that many species were becoming endangered because of international trade. Because this trade crosses national borders, international collaboration and cooperation is crucial to ensure this trade is sustainable and controlled and does not threaten or endanger wildlife.
As part of its work on wildlife conservation, WWF supports both enforcement of, and the listing of endangered species in, CITES – the world's largest and, by some accounts, most effective international wildlife conservation agreement.
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