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Image: Peter Flood

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EU asks Japan to cancel whale hunt programme in Antarctica

A strongly worded letter from the EU Member States has requested that Japan immediately halts it´s research whaling programme in the Southern Ocean as there was no scientific justification for the slaughter.

The scientific value of Japan’s “new” scientific whaling programme NEWREP-A, that has seen 333 minke whales killed in the 2015/16 season, had been called into question by the IWC scientific committee and heavily criticised by the IUCN. In 2014, the International Court of Justice’s ruling, had forced Japan to stop it´s previous JARPAII programme. The court came to the conclusion that this whaling was not scientific but merely commercial whale slaughter for profit.

The letter, issued by the Netherlands on behalf of EU States that are party to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, is also very critical of Japan’s decision to start its new ‘research’ hunts (NEWREP-NP) in the North Pacific in 2017 before the International Whaling Commission (the organisation that regulates whaling) will have had time to adequately review and assess the plans and their scientific value. 

Agreement had been made at the last IWC meeting, in 2016, that new proposals for so called “Special permit” research programmes would need to be reviewed by the IWC’s own scientific committee and the Commission itself first.

The letter from the EU States goes on to highlight concern over Japan’s new plans to kill even more Sei whales in the North Pacific, a move which places Japan in direct contravention of CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – an international treaty drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife from exploitation. Japanese whalers plan to increase the number of whales it would kill by 122 compared to previous levels, 72 more minke whales and 50 more Sei whales. 

The letter concludes by underlining the fact that Japan has yet to prove to the IWC scientific committee that slaughtering whales for research is justified, and strongly urges that these hunts do not go ahead in 2017.