Plans by the Government of Japan to ‘sharply’ increase its take of minke whales and to resume catching both fin and humpback whales under the guise of scientific research, are a deadly slap in the face for the international community, making a mockery of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and international efforts to control whaling, Greenpeace warned yesterday.
The international environmental organisation called upon anti-whaling nations such as the US, the UK, Australia and Brazil to redouble their efforts to protect whales and to once and for all close the ‘scientific whaling’ loophole.
According to today’s wire reports, a secret proposal from Japan, which has been submitted for consideration at the IWC meeting beginning on May 27 in Ulsan, Korea, will see new ‘scientific’ quotas with a doubling of the current minke whale take of 440 in the Antarctic in addition to a catch of some 10 humpback and fin whales.
“The Japanese Government should withdraw this outrageous proposal immediately,” said John Frizell of Greenpeace International. “For too long the ‘scientific’ loophole has provided commercial whalers with a ‘fig leaf’ of respectability. The IWC should move to end the scandal of scientific whaling and end the scientific exemption.”
“The submission to the IWC by Japan’s Fisheries Agency is designated ‘in confidence’, but, since when was the science of environmental protection and nature conservation best served by secrecy? This is a simple case of publish and be dammed,” added Frizell.
Over the last month the Greenpeace flagship has been in Korean waters to highlight another flaw in the international regime banning the hunting of whales. In 2003 the Korean fishing fleet ‘accidentally’ netted 97 whales, which were legally traded and processed for domestic consumption.
Korean Government statistics show that around a hundred times more whales are “accidentally” caught in Korea than in countries that do not have a domestic whale meat market. Scientists believe that even the most populous whale species in Korean waters, minke whales, are in serious decline because of this trade.
As IWC preparations begin in Ulsan, Greenpeace, along with the Korean Federation for the Environment Movement (KFEM), have exposed plans by the South Korean government to build a whale and dolphin meat processing factory there. A protest camp, or ‘Whale Embassy’, at the proposed whale meat factory site has been established.