Sunday 19 July 2015

IWC Scientists find Japan's lethal research unjustified

At present, it looks as though the Japanese Government might send its whaling fleet to the Antarctic again this summer.

In a landmark decision last year the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favour of Australia, finding that Japan’s “scientific whaling” program, known as JARPA II, should not continue. In a blatant effort to sustain its commercial whaling industry, Japanese scientists have hastily drafted a new scientific whaling program, NEWREP-A, which is supposed to address the many faults and failings of JARPA II identified by the ICJ.


While the International Whaling Commission (IWC) now only meets every second year, with the next scheduled for 2016, its Scientific Committee meets annually. NEWREP-A was reviewed at the 2015 Scientific Committee meeting in San Diego, California. NEWREP-A was a key agenda item.


Australian scientists on the committee expressed disappointment that NEWREP-A focussed on justifying lethal research, rather than avoiding killing whales unless it was demonstrably necessary to obtain vital data. They found that the new program is “not underpinned by any analysis demonstrating the necessity or value of lethal sampling”.


In another detailed submission, US committee delegate Dr Paul Wade of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory concluded that “none of the justifications for lethal sampling stand up to scrutiny”.


As expected, Japanese members of the committee argued strongly in favour of implementing their “improved” scientific whaling program.


Summarising the discussions in its Meeting Report, the Scientific Committee found that the need for lethal sampling has not been demonstrated in the NEWREP-A proposal, and that there is no scientific justification for collecting lethal samples. More specifically it stated that “if the NEWREP-A program commences in the 2015/16 season, there is currently insufficient scientific basis for it to include a lethal component”.


Whether or not the Japanese Government respects the ruling of the ICJ ,or the views of the Scientific Committee of which it is a member, remains to be seen.


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