Japan To Have a Whale of a Time
At this year’s International Whaling Commission in South Korea, Japan announced that it would be doubling its minke whale quota to almost 900 for “scientific reasons,” intending to fish them out of the IWC Antarctic reserve.
Whale lovers aren’t happy about the announcement saying that even at the previous whaling levels, “scientific” purposes were just backdoor tactics that many doubt the sincerity behind.
What’s more, it undermines the 1986 ban on commercial whaling by, as some believe, simple semantics.
Japan is adding razorback and humpback whales to their list. Both species of whale are considered endangered and have a whaling cap of 50 after a two-year break.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Japan has killed more than 8,000 whales since the 1986 ban.
“This back door has become a floodgate,” said German delegate Matthias Berninger, who doubts their scientific motives.
Pro-whaling countries Norway and Iceland joined Japan in their efforts petitioning an end to the 19-year ban, saying that such a ban is no longer necessary. All three countries argue that whaling should have a strict quota system that allows for “sustainable hunts.”
The petition was shot down by a 27-30 vote, with anti-whaling countries New Zealand, Australia, and Britain leading the opposition. All three countries want stricter whaling regulations and to make certain oceanic areas out of bounds for hunters.
Japanese delegates to the conference moved to exclude discussions about whale sanctuaries and other topics from the conference agenda. These motions were also struck down.
The situation isn’t without accusations of dirty play. The vote against ending the ban was a close one and some say Japan is buying votes from developing nations who need economic aid, an allegation Japan vehemently denies. Many fear a majority vote for pro-whaling countries is a soon-to-be-filled prophecy.