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November 30, 2015

Japan Sails to Resume Whale Killing in Antarctica

Humane Society International

  • Daniel Benhaim/iStockphoto

Humane Society International has condemned Japan’s resumption of whaling in the Southern Ocean as contrary to the 2014 International Court of Justice judgment that rejected Japan’s claim that such whaling was scientific and thus exempt from the global moratorium on commercial whaling. The Japanese whaling fleet will set sail for Antarctica December 1st to relaunch Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean under a new scientific proposal, NEWREP-A, that has not received the approval of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.

“Japan’s whaling is a commercial take disguised as science,” says Kitty Block, HSI vice president. “No amount of sophistry is going to hide this and those of us who have viewed this issue for many years are dismayed that Japan did not take the opportunity afforded by the International Court of Justice to move away from this archaic practice that continues to unnecessarily kill whales and divide nations.”

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The Japanese fleet, which consist of the mother vessel "Nisshin Maru" (8,145 tons and 101 crew members) and three catcher vessels, the "Yushin Maru" (724 tons, 19 crew members); "Yushin Maru #2" (747 tons, 19 crew members) and "the Yushin Maru #3" (742 tons, 21 crew members), plans to conduct the controversial research that Japan insists must include the killing of 333 Antarctic minke whales in each of 12 successive years.

In 2014, the ICJ found that Japan’s previous whaling program (JARPAII) was illegal because it did not meet the requirements of Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (which established the International Whaling Commission). The Convention allows countries to set their own quotas for research purposes, but the ICJ, the world’s highest court, found that research was not the purpose of Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean.

In October, the Government of Japan informed the United Nations, in a special declaration, that it would take a sweeping exception to the ICJ's jurisdiction. Japan's declaration states that the Court's jurisdiction "does not apply to ... any dispute arising out of, concerning, or relating to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea."

Japan’s maneuvers at the United Nations are designed to head off the potential for new complaints being made to the ICJ and have wider implications for marine conservation and Japan's activities at sea.

Japan's announcement on Friday that it would go ahead with its lethal research has been condemned by Australia and New Zealand, but not by the United States or the European Union.

Media contacts:
UK: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44(0)7989 972 423
US: Raul Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 301.721.6440

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