The European Union, together with 12 other nations, has issued a formal statement condemning Japan’s Antarctic whale hunting programme and rejected the Japanese government’s weak argument that the slaughter is for scientific research.
In addition to the EU, the letter was signed by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. The countries expressed their ‘opposition to Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean’ and confirmed their opposition to ‘commercial whaling, in particular in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).’
The Japanese whaling fleet left port for Antarctica in November to kill up to 333 Antarctic minke whales by next March for ongoing ‘research’. Japan uses the term scientific research to get around the current IWC (the organisation that regulates whale hunts) ban on commercial whaling, yet much of the whale meat from these ‘scientific’ hunts actually ends up on general sale in Japan.
The IWC’s own scientific committee has called into question the scientific value of this slaughter and the hunts have also been heavily criticised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the global authority on the status of the natural world.
Last year, Japanese whalers killed 333 minke whales in the 2015/16 Antarctic hunting season with over 90% of the adult females being pregnant.
“This international pressure is welcome but we call for additional economic pressure as Japan has taken little interest in previous statements like this one,” said WDC anti- whaling campaigner, Astrid Fuchs.
WDC’s campaign to have Japan’s continued whale slaughter raised as part of future trade negotiations between the EU and Japan took a big leap forward this month after representatives from WDC were invited to address the EU’s own petitions committee.
The opportunity to talk directly with the EU representatives came as a result of our petition (asking for Japan’s whale hunts to be raised in any future trade talks with the EU), which was supported by over 270,000 people.