The bodies of a slaughtered mother whale and her calf are dragged on board the Japanese ship Nisshin Maru, after being harpooned in Antarctic waters, in this 2008 photo taken from an Australian customs vessel. Photo: Australian Customs Service / AFP / File

By Paul Gallagher
28 November 2015

(The Guardian) – Japan is set to resume whaling early next year, after a break of more than 12 months, in defiance of an international court of justice ruling that it cease the practice.

The Japanese government says it has taken into account the court ruling and its “scientific” whaling programme will catch only a third of the minke whales it caught under its previous programme – 333 instead of 1,000 – which it halted in March last year.

Japan’s international whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, said in a letter that his government had “sincerely taken into account” recommendations of the International Whaling Commission’s scientific committee. He said Japan’s new programme “does not require any substantial changes” and confirmed whaling would resume.

However, the announcement has been condemned by environmental groups and the Australian and UK governments. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are deeply disappointed with Japan’s decision to restart whaling in the Southern Ocean. This undermines the global ban on commercial whaling which the UK strongly supports.”

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said Japan’s new programme would result in the slaughter of nearly 4,000 whales over the next 12 years in an expanded Antarctic killing zone. The charity is urging supporters to write to Foreign Office minister James Duddridge to ask the British government to challenge Japan’s plan “and lack of regard for international law”.

Greg Hunt, Australia’s environment minister, said Japan cannot unilaterally decide to start whaling in the Antarctic Ocean again against the advice of scientists. The Japanese Fisheries Agency has notified the IWC that it will resume whaling in the 2015-16 season under a revised plan. The commission is reviewing the science behind the plan and has raised serious concerns.

“Australia strongly opposes the decision by Japan to resuming whaling in the Southern Ocean this summer,” Hunt said on Saturday. “It cannot unilaterally decide whether it has adequately addressed the scientific committee’s questions.” [more]

Japan under fire over decision to resume whaling

29 November 2015 Sydney (AFP) – Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd warned Japan on Sunday against resuming "research" whaling in the Antarctic and called on the Australian government to intervene.

After a decade of harassment by Sea Shepherd, Japan was forced to abandon its 2014-15 Southern Ocean hunt after the International Court of Justice said the annual expedition was a commercial activity masquerading as research.

But on Saturday Japanese media reported that it would start again next year, despite a call by global regulators for more evidence that the expeditions have a scientific purpose.

"The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean are once again under threat from poachers," said Sea Shepherd chief executive Alex Cornelissen.

"We would like to remind the Japanese government that the whales of the Southern Ocean are protected by international law, by Australian law and by Sea Shepherd.

"As such, any violation of the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or the Australian Whale Sanctuary will be regarded as a criminal act." […]

During the suspension of Japan's whale hunt, Sea Shepherd has been targeting the catching of rare Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean.

Its main ship, the Steve Irwin, is docked in Melbourne and the group did not say whether it would once again chase the Japanese whalers. The Yomiuri Shimbun and other media said the Japanese fleet could depart possibly by the end of December. […]

Australia has led efforts to persuade Japan to halt whaling and Sea Shepherd called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to use diplomacy to ensure it does not resume.

"Prime Minister Turnbull has a duty to ensure that the dire matter of Japan's whale poaching operations is at the top of the agenda when he visits Japan in December," said Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen. [more]

Sea Shepherd warns Japan against resuming whaling



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