I can hardly believe it...... and not in a good way either .....
Back when we 'didn't know any better' whales were nearly hunted to extinction. Since they are big, slow and trusting - they were easy targets and their numbers were decimated, no species was safe. Finally, in 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) put a ban on commercial whaling. Since then, whales have slowly, very slowly been able to repopulate and increase their numbers.
When the ban was put in place in 1986, by 1987 Japan had launched a program called JARPA II which allowed them to continue to hunt whales for "scientific purposes" due to a loophole in the agreement. In 2010, Australia applied to the International Court of Justice accusing Japan of failing to “observe in good faith the zero catch limit in relation to the killing of whales”. It was a four year campaign to prove that Japan's whaling was not in fact for scientific purposes and the court ruled (12-4) that Japan halt their slaughter of whales under their JARPA II program. So what did Japan do? Found another loophole of course! They soon commenced whaling again under the new and very similar program called NEWREP-A.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency, since the 1986 ban, Japan have killed more than 15,600 whales in the Antarctic (including juveniles and pregnant whales). Norway have killed more than 14,000 minke whales and Iceland have also killed 1,800 whales. That's nearly 31,500 whales killed while there IS a ban in place!
The IWC are meeting this week in Brazil and Japan have put forward a proposal that would lift the ban on whale hunting and allow them, and others who choose to partake, to hunt commercially again.
Kate O'Connell from the Animal Welfare Institute has recently said "We're only just beginning to grasp the vital role whales play in maintaining the health of the world's oceans," . "Weakening the ban now would be a fatal mistake, and would open the doors to increased commercial whaling around the world. This cruel and unnecessary industry is a relic of the past that has no place in modern society. All other contracting governments to the IWC must step up to vigorously defend the moratorium from this new assault by Japan and its allies."
I am truly hoping that the IWC will do the right thing and leave the ban in place. Our oceans and all species that call it home are already under enough stress from humans - we don't need to add another all out slaughter to the mix.
If you would like to make your voice heard in support of keeping the ban in place, you can sign the petition that will be presented to the Chair and Secretary of the IWC here: