- Title: International watchdog votes to tighten rules on scientific whaling
- Date: 27th October 2016
- Summary: PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA (OCTOBER 27, 2016) (REUTERS) PEOPLE FISHING WITH RODS IN PORTOROZ HARBOUR NATIONAL FLAGS FLYING NEAR HOTEL HOSTING CONVENTION DELEGATES PREPARING FOR SESSION AUSTRALIAN IWC COMMISSIONER, NICK GALES, PREPARING FOR SESSION JAPANESE IWC COMMISSIONER, JOJI MORISHITA, TALKING TO COLLEAGUES VARIOUS OF DELEGATES IN SESSION JAPANESE FLAG ON JAPANESE DELEGATION DESK MORISHITA LISTENING TO SPEECH WIDE OF OBSERVERS LISTENING TO SPEECH (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW ZEALAND COMMISSIONER, AMY LAURENSON, SAYING: "It is important to recall here today that the ICJ (International Court of Justice) made clear in its 2014 judgement that whaling under special permit is not a unilateral matter. It is not up to the proposing state alone to assess the merits of such programs. Moreover, the ICJ judgement said that contracting parties have a duty to cooperate with the Commission. Special permit whaling is squarely this plenary's business. We are deeply disappointed Japan did not afford this Commission the opportunity to consider NEWREP-A (New Scientific Whale Research Program) before it issued new special permits and took 333 Minke whales from the Southern Ocean in the 2015-16 southern summer."
- Embargoed: 11th November 2016 16:07
- Keywords: scientific whaling whaling IWC environment watchdog Japan
- Location: PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA & AT SEA
- City: PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA & AT SEA
- Country: Slovenia
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA00155S6L3B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The International Whaling Commission (IWC) passed a resolution at its meeting in Slovenia on Thursday (October 27) which aims to strengthen the review process for permits issued for scientific whaling.
Although the global moratorium on whaling, which came into force in 1986, has dramatically reduced the numbers of whales hunted around the world, Japan has exploited a loophole in the treaty which still allows whales to be killed for scientific purposes.
So-called scientific whaling, which saw some 15,000 whales killed by Japanese whalers since the 1986 ban came into force, is allowed by permits which countries can issue to themselves.
But this practice of self-issued permits came under heavy criticism after a 2014 judgement at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Japan's whaling in Southern Ocean.
"It is not up to the proposing state alone to assess the merits of such programmes. Moreover, the ICJ judgement said that contracting parties have a duty to cooperate with the Commission. Special permit whaling is squarely this plenary's business. We are deeply disappointed Japan did not afford this Commission the opportunity to consider NEWREP-A before it issued new special permits and took 333 Minke whales from the Southern Ocean in the 2015-16 southern summer," New Zealand IWC Commissioner, Amy Laurenson, said, with NEWREP-A referring to the new scientific program entitled which Japan established in order to issue whalers new permits for the 2015-16 season.
Thursday's resolution, proposed by Australia and New Zealand, was passed with a majority of votes. It will now subject scientific whaling permits to more scrutiny and closer examination by the IWC's working group before coming into force.
The group would exclude Japan, but Japan would be allowed to use scientific findings to help argue its cases for permits.
"It's a small step forward, but what it is about within this body strengthening the process by which we actually have a robust discussion and making it easier for commissioners to actually digest that really technical information so that we can actually form a view on the special permit whaling programmes. New Zealand is consistently opposed to plans for whaling in the Southern Ocean, and we'll continue to work to see this outdated practice brought to an end," Laurenson told Reuters.
The resolution was hailed by conservationists and environmentalist groups.
"This today's resolution, what it means is, you establish a new evaluation and review process of special permit whaling, and the good part is that - like any other scientific process - is that you establish a group where Japan is not included but acts just as an observer, so you try to have a more independent review happening," said Nicolas Entrup, consultant for the Swiss-based non-profit organisation OceanCare.
But for most, this still does little to address the core issue, as the reasons cited for scientific whaling are routinely rejected by both the scientific and environmentalist communities.
Entrup said that ultimately the IWC does not have the ability to hold countries accountable and added, "I doubt that Japan is ready."
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