FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil—Reacting to the news that the International Whaling Commission has rejected Japan’s comprehensive attack on the global moratorium on commercial whaling, Kitty Block, President of animal charity Humane Society International said, “It is an immense relief that the IWC’s moral compass has led it to reject Japan’s reckless and retrograde attempt to bring back commercial whaling. What Japan tried to do here was to bend and break the rules of the IWC to lift an internationally-agreed ban on killing whales for profit. It deserved to fail; the world has moved on from commercial whaling, and so must Japan. We hope that the IWC can now get on with the business of protecting these ocean leviathans from the myriad other threats they face.”
At this the 67th meeting of the IWC, Japan advanced a set of recommendations calculated to undermine the prohibition on commercial whaling agreed to in the 1980s. These included proposals to establish a “Sustainable Whaling Committee” and a process to determine catch limits for what Japan calls “abundant whale stocks/species.”
With no consensus on the proposal, Japan pushed for a vote on its package, which required a 3/4 majority to pass but achieved only 27 votes in support with 41 countries voting against and two abstentions.
Australia was the first country to rebut Japan’s proposals, describing commercial whaling as “a business proposition against which many parties hold legitimate environmental and welfare concerns.” Countries including Iceland, Nicaragua, Senegal and Norway spoke in support of the proposal, claiming that the IWC would be “dysfunctional” if it did not approve it. Countries including Australia, Argentina, and the IWC’s 24 European Union member states completely dismantled Japan’s unreasonable proposals and robustly defended claims of dysfunctionality. “Disagreement does not mean dysfunction,” said Australia’s Commissioner Nick Gales.
Block commented: “The IWC has a large, expanding and impressive marine conservation agenda, bringing countries together to find ways to protect whales from problems like bycatch and pollution. Against that important and urgent backdrop, Japan’s pro-whaling ambitions look regressive and vastly out of step with enlightened global efforts to act as stewards for the world’s largest mammals. It’s clear from exchanges this week that those countries here fighting for the protection of whales are not prepared to have the IWC’s progressive conservation agenda held hostage to Japan’s unreasonable whaling demands.”
Media contact: Wendy Higgins, firstname.lastname@example.org