Sunday 27 March 2016

Time to stop raising concerns and start raising the stakes

The Japanese whaling fleet has returned to Shimonoseki, reportedly having taken 333 minke whales. The quota, issued by the Japanese Government under the International Whaling Commission (IWC) “Scientific Whaling” loophole, marks the beginning of Japan’s twelve-year Antarctic whaling program, NEWREP-A.
Hastily contrived after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) instructed Japan to discontinue its previous program (JARPA II) in 2014, NEWREP-A continues the “research” that supplies whale meat to the Japanese market.
Japan has convinced neither the ICJ nor even the Scientific Committee of the IWC that its new whaling activity is any more based in true science than was the previous hunt.
It is understood that the Australian Government has raised its concerns at the highest level of the Japanese Government. Clearly however, if the Government of Japan has the audacity to defy the ICJ and ignore the findings of IWC scientists, another strongly worded letter from Canberra is unlikely to make much difference. It is time for Australia to seriously consider measured punitive action.
Now is also the time for the Australian Government to put plans in place to send a vessel to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic during the 2016-17 season. This, after all, is what current Environment Minister Greg Hunt was calling on the previous government to do while he was in opposition less than three years ago.


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