U.S. URGES JAPAN TO STOP KILLING WHALES
U.S. URGES JAPAN TO STOP KILLING WHALES
2005-06-02 at 10:29:00 am #9767
U.S. Urges Japan to Stop Killing Whales
WASHINGTON(June 05)-The United States is urging Japan
anew to end its program of killing whales, which the Japanese say is for
scientific research, and has told Japan any expansion of the program would be
unacceptable, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said
NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said Japanese whalers already
take about 800 of the maritime mammals, and U.S. specialists have noted signs
that a significant increase is planned.
“There are indications that Japan plans to expand it
research whale hunt by the hundreds,” Smullen said. “Any unilateral move to
increase the number or type of whales killed and marketed under the guise of
science is unacceptable.
“We have made this known by communique today.”
He said the U.S. position was submitted through the State
The United States made its move in advance of a June 20-24
meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Ulsan, South Korea.
Smullen said Japan is expected to reveal an enhanced
whaling program within days. The expected announcement will be on the agenda of
the whaling commission meeting, Smullen said.
In a news release, NOAA said U.S. officials repeated their
opposition to lethal research on whales in the communication to Japan. Smullen
said U.S. officials believe “Japan’s research whaling raises questions of
scientific validity” because scientific data can be collected without killing
Recovery of already depleted stocks could be endangered by
the Japanese whalers, the agency said.
U.S. officials also said an expansion of Japan’s program in
the Southern Ocean “will hinder discussion and progress on other important
issues at the IWC meeting,” NOAA said.
Japan began taking whales for what it describes as research
in 1987 in the Southern Ocean and in the North Pacific. Japan unilaterally
issues itself an annual quota of more than 800 whales including minke, sei,
Bryde’s and sperm whales.
Whale meat from the research hunts is sold in the Japanese
marketplace, NOAA said.
NOAA is the U.S. government’s scientific research and whale
square up over whalingGreenpeace activists are occupying the site of a proposed whale
meat factory in Ulsan, South Korea, ahead of talks on the state of the world’s
Environmentalists fear the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will
sanction a return to commercial whaling at its annual meeting, which starts this
Under an international agreement there is a moratorium on the hunting of
whales, but some can be killed for scientific research.
The whaling nations – Norway, Iceland and Japan – and their opponents, are
bitterly divided on the issue of whether stocks of some species have recovered
enough during the 19-year ban to make hunting sustainable.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is one of many conservation groups
fighting plans to allow hunts limited by quotas which will be discussed in
The society’s whaling expert Sue Fisher says the commission should be
focusing on making the moratorium work – “not trying to create a management
model that the whaling nations have no intention of complying with; with
loopholes so big you could drive a blue whale through them”.
The whale hunting nations have fought to overturn the moratorium on
commercial hunting since it was imposed in 1986.
Norway has continued to kill minke whales in the North Atlantic
since 1993 through a legal objection lodged against the moratorium. Japan and
Iceland also continue to kill whales, for so-called “scientific purposes”.
The governments that make up the IWC agreed to begin drawing up rules for the
quota system at last year’s meeting in Sorrento, Italy.
At the heart of the proposals, to be discussed in Ulsan, is a scheme to model
how many whales can be killed without damaging overall numbers – the Revised
Management System (RMS).
But some marine biologists say whale stocks are still low and too little is
known about pre-industrial whale populations to make hunting safe.
Another perspective is that there are so many minke
whales off Korea’s coasts that they are commonly entangled, as they are in the
waters off Japan, and that it would be wasteful to refrain from using them
IWMC – World Conservation Trust
They are worried that if the quota system were adopted it could
lead to renewed overexploitation of whales.
“The RMS is not only fundamentally flawed, it is not enough,” Sue Fisher told
the BBC News website.
“Alone the RMS cannot bring whaling back under control. Japan, and any other
country that so chooses, will still be able to conduct scientific whaling and
take as many whales as they want, entirely outside the control of the IWC.
“That isn’t responsible management; it’s a complete abdication of the world’s
responsibility to conserve whales.”
In Ulsan itself, opinion is divided over a return to whaling. Many locals can
remember eating whale meat as a child when it was a staple part of the diet and
say a whaling revival would boost the local economy.
South Korea joined the 1986 moratorium on whaling but makes an exception for
whales accidentally killed in fishing nets. The whales can be butchered and
legally consumed after police have inspected the carcasses to make sure there is
no sign of foul play.
But environmentalists fear South Korea will vote with pro-whaling nations on
measures that would weaken the moratorium.
They say that for the first time since commercial whaling was banned,
pro-whaling countries may hold the majority of votes due to the growing number
of developing countries that have recently joined the commission.
It raises the possibility that the commission might pass resolutions
supporting Japan’s scientific whaling programme, or the resumption of limited
Jun Koda, councillor in charge of fisheries at the Japanese Embassy in
London, UK, said he hoped the scheme to allow limited kills would be passed at
“From our point of view the RMS is one of the steps to resuming commercial
whaling,” he told the BBC News website.
“Whale eating is a tradition continuing for more than 4,000 years so that is
part of our traditions and we think each country should respect each other and
And the IWMC – World Conservation Trust, a group that promotes “the
sustainable use of wild resources” was scathing of Greenpeace’s latest action in
Ulsan, calling it “tiresome”.
“Greenpeace of course claims that [South Korean accidental catches] are
purposeful and that they are a dishonest fact of life in South Korea,” the IWMC
said in its latest newsletter this weekend.
“Another perspective is that there are so many minke whales off Korea’s
coasts that they are commonly entangled, as they are in the waters off Japan,
and that it would be wasteful to refrain from using them.
“Korean people have their own long-standing culinary traditions in whale
consumption that are unique to this peninsular nation. They are not about to
give them up because foreigners demonstrate their intolerance towards them.”
But Greenpeace hit back: “Korea has accidental bycatch rates almost 100 times
higher than nations that do not have a whale meat trade.
“It does not take a genius to see that, in a country where dead whales are
worth up to $100,000, the building of a whale meat processing factory will
encourage the deliberate targeting and illegal hunting of Korea’s disappearing