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Our climate report highlights dramatic impacts on whales and dolphins

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© New England Aquarium and Canadian Whale Institute under DFO Canada SARA permit

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© Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit #26919. Funded by United States Army Corps of Engineers

Birth announcement! First right whale calf of the 2024 calving season spotted

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© Peter Flood

Two New England-based nonprofits awarded nearly $400k federal grant

© Peter Flood November 20, 2023 - Contact: Jake O'Neill, Conservation Law Foundation, (617) 850-1709,...

WDC welcomes international diplomatic protest condemning Japan’s whaling plans

WDC has welcomed today’s announcement that the UK government, together with all European Union member states and the US, has issued a high level diplomatic protest (démarche) strongly condemning Japan´s plan to continue its so-called “research” whaling in the Southern Ocean. 

The démarche, initiated by New Zealand, was also signed by the governments of Australia and Mexico, and leaves Japan one step away from potential legal action.

This significant diplomatic protest is in response to Japan’s recent decision to issue itself a new whaling permit, which will see the country’s whaling fleet slaughter up to 333 minke whales each year for the next 12 years despite the fact that Japan’s so-called ‘research’ whaling has been strongly condemned, and banned, for being unscientific by the UN’s International Court of Justice.

The whaling has also been criticized this year by a specially convened expert panel meeting in Tokyo and the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC – the body that regulates whaling), on the grounds that Japan’s proposal does not make a scientific case for the killing of whales for research. 

“Japan’s actions are outrageous”, says WDC’s CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud. “The Japanese government has ignored science and international law and it’s hunting boats have set out for Antarctica already. Whilst, at first sight, this new proposal, called NEWREP-A (New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean) seems to contemplate killing considerably less whales than the 850 (+/- 10%) minke whales targeted before 2014, the fact is that in recent years Japan hasn’t caught more than 300 minke whales per year, so the quota envisaged in NEWREP-A would actually mean an increase in minke whales killed!

 “WDC believes the demarche brings Japan one step closer to potential future legal action.”

In 2014, the IWC passed a resolution that sought to bring ‘scientific whaling’ under the control of the IWC. In so doing, the IWC Member States agreed to a process by which the Commission would decide on the merits of any such future ‘scientific whaling’ proposal.

In rejecting the IWC’s current good faith discussions on how to adopt the ICJ ruling, member states would be fully within their rights to use the UNCLoS enforcement provisions to challenge Japan that its whaling is illegal on the grounds that Japan has actively failed to‘cooperate’ in the ‘conservation and management for living resources’.

“If there was ever any debate about the definition of pirate whaling before, Japan has managed to take its abuse of the so-called ‘scientific’ whaling clause of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and create a new form of state sanctioned pirate whaling. All law abiding states around the world should join with this démarche and wholeheartedly condemn Japan’s actions in undermining international law to satisfy some petty nationalistic desire to see more whales die a hideously painful death“, concludes Butler-Stroud.