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WDC joins celebrities’ call for G20 action over Japanese government’s return to commercial whale slaughter

Sei whale

Celebrities and conservation and welfare organisations (including WDC) from across the globe are calling for an ‘international whaling intervention’ to be staged at the G20 summit in Osaka as summit hosts Japan prepare to launch a renewed commercial whaling programme.

The summit begins today just days before Japan will leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the international body that regulates whale hunting) on 30th June 2019 to then begin openly hunting seiBryde’s and minke whales for commercial profit.

Celebrities Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, Dr Jane Goodall, Liz Bonnin, Steve Backshall, Virginia McKenna and Nicky Campbell, alongside more than 100 conservation charities and champions within almost all the countries in the G20, are backing pleas for international anti-whaling pressure to be placed on the Japanese government.

Letters have been sent to all G20 leaders calling on them to publicly object at the summit to Japan’s commercial whaling intentions, and to deliver a joint declaration calling for the end to all commercial whaling globally.

BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall, said: ‘It has taken the combined efforts of every nation on earth to bring whale conservation to the fore. At the G20 summit, our leaders need to talk to our friends in Japan, and let them know that - on this issue - they are deeply at odds with the rest of the world.’

The decision by the Japanese government to return to commercial whale hunting is being viewed as bizarre as there is no commercial or other pressing need - consumption of whale meat in Japan declined by almost 99% between 1962 and 2017; in 2017 government data shows that less than 4,000 tonnes were eaten.

With whales playing a key role in our marine ecosystems (including locking up carbon and providing nourishment for phytoplankton essential to ocean food chains) it is vital that Governments around the world help to protect them to keep our seas healthy. G20 leaders have the ideal opportunity at the Osaka summit to echo public opinion on the need for Japan to end this cruel and unnecessary practice. Peaceful anti-whaling protest events will also be taking place in London, Edinburgh and other cities around the world on Saturday to draw attention to this issue.

‘The moratorium on commercial whaling is one of the biggest achievements of modern conservation’, says Astrid Fuchs, WDC anti-whaling campaigner. ‘By leaving the IWC and resuming commercial whaling, the Japanese government sets a dangerous example. Many whale species are still struggling to recover from the effects of the mass slaughter that was industrial whaling in the 20th century. All whale populations are already under threat from issues like climate change, pollution, entanglement and habitat degradation. The last thing they need is a resumption of large scale whaling. ‘

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