The World Court found Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling programme in the Antarctic failed to meet the conditions for scientific whaling under regulations set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body charged with the conservation of whales and the regulation of whaling.
Japan’s whaling is being propped up by millions of pounds a year in public money, research by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) shows.
In February, Andrew Gwynne MP attended a Westminster launch of IFAW’s report, The Economics of Japanese Whaling, and to support the campaign. He also heard that the Japanese government even diverted tsunami relief funds to support the industry. Annual government subsidies for Japanese whaling average around 782 million yen (£5.35m), but in 2011 this increased by around 2.28 billion yen (£15.6m).
The report, prepared following a year-long research effort conducted by leading Japan-based agencies commissioned by IFAW, provided the clearest picture ever of the failing whaling industry based largely on the government of Japan’s own data.
While the findings demonstrate that whaling is unprofitable and catering to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market, whale watching is, by contrast, a growth industry.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I oppose the cruelty of commercial whaling which has no place in the 21st Century. I stand beside IFAW in supporting whale watching as the sustainable alternative which can benefit coastal communities.
“I was so pleased to hear of the International Court of Justice’s latest decision on this matter. It is entirely correct.”
Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Global Whale Programme Director, who was in court to witness the judgment being delivered, said:
“We welcome the court’s findings. IFAW had long pushed for whales to have their day in court, and we are very pleased that justice has been served.
“The government of Japan has a strong record of genuinely respecting international institutions and we fully expect Japan will abide by the Court’s ruling.
“We respectfully urge Japan, Iceland and Norway, the last three countries still killing whales for commercial purposes, to accept that whaling has no place in the 21st Century and to act in compliance with the judicial precedent set by the court today.
“The market for whale meat in all three countries is in freefall; it is time they joined the rest of the family of nations in abandoning this outdated and uneconomic industry.”
Whale watching is worth around £1.3 billion annually. In Japan alone, whale watching generated around £14 million in 2008. There are currently around 30 whale watching operators working from a dozen locations around the Japanese coast.
The country’s whaling fleet left port in December for Antarctica to train its harpoons on around 1,000 whales, in defiance of global opposition and several international laws.
Japan hunts whales for so-called science despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling. IFAW believes Japan’s whaling produces sham science and is merely commercial whaling by another name.
IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; scientists agree there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. This is proved by footage of Japanese whaling which has shown whales taking more than half an hour to die. In addition, much of the meat is merely stockpiled or sold cheaply to schools and hospitals.