Sunday 14 April 2019

Japan leaves the IWC and leaves the Antarctic, but its whaling continues

In recent weeks, Japan’s whaling fleet returned to its home port of Shimonoseki after another killing season in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We are yet to see events unfold, but this might have been the last of Japan’s Antarctic whaling, at least for the time being.
Late last year, Japan advised the International Whaling Commission (IWC) of its intention to resign its membership. Behind the rhetoric about failures to reach compromises and decisions driven by sentiment rather than science, Japan has left because it has not been able to get what it wants – a return to commercial whaling. With the veil of its ‘scientific whaling’ charade in shreds since the International Court of Justice ruled against the practice and nations like Australia continuing to establish the value of non-lethal research, Japan’s departure is more about defeat than protest.
Japan’s whaling will continue elsewhere of course – its powerful fisheries lobby will see to that.
And there’s little doubt that its IWC allies, notably Norway and Iceland, will continue to receive Japan’s support.
The important thing now it to ensure that the Australian Government continues its leadership in the IWC by playing key roles in the Scientific Committee and working groups and sending strong delegations to the biennial Commission meetings.
With the federal election to be held in just a few weeks, now would be a good time to seek assurances from local candidates that they will support the continuation of Australia’s acknowledged anti-whaling leadership in the international arena.


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