Sunday 20 February 2011

Antarctic whalers retreat good news - for now

On 16 February came news that the Japanese Fisheries Agency's Far Seas Fisheries Division had recalled its whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean only half way into its 2010/11 season of ‘scientific’ whaling program, known as JARPA II.

On February 18 Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd released a joint media statement welcoming the retreat of Japan's whaling fleet, reiterating Australia’s call for an end to scientific whaling.

The same day, the Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Australian, Netherlands and New Zealand ambassador to meetings to discuss the issue. Although the details of the discussions have not been made public, it is thought that it is in relation to those nations providing vessel registration and supply and maintenance facilities to the Sea Shepherd’s protest vessels.

Michihiko Kano, Japan’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, has as yet made no official statement about the future of JARPA II.

At this year’s International Whaling Commission meeting in July, it is expected that Japan will seek support for a motion condemning Sea Shepherd’s confrontational tactics, as it has in past years.  If Japan’s intention is to continue its Antarctic hunt next year, it might also redouble its efforts to overturn the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, or to resurrect elements of the Maquieira Proposal to garner a commercial whaling trade-off. [See News Items 22.08.10, 02.05.10 and 25.04.10]


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