Australia to oppose Japan's push to reintroduce commercial whaling
Our wide brown land Australia news Australia to oppose Japan's push to reintroduce commercial whaling
Government says itâs âvery concernedâ about Tokyoâs âsustainableâ quotas, but hasnât committed to sending minister
- Clashes expected over Japanâs bid to resume commercial whaling
Australia will call for Japanâs push to reintroduce commercial whaling to be rejected at the critical upcoming International Whaling Commission meeting in Brazil.
âThis meeting is make or break for the global ban on whaling,â said Darren Kindleysides, chief executive of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
The IWCâs international moratorium on commercial whaling has been in force since 1985. Australia is yet to decide whether to send a minister to the meeting next month which campaigners fear would be a downgrading of the issue.
Nicole Beynon, a whale conservation campaigner at the Humane Society International (HSI) said Australia had previously championed whale conservation, including highlighting threats like plastic pollution, entanglements in fishing gear and prey depletion from climate change, but needed to stand up again.
âWe need Australia to be rallying pro- conservation minded countries to fight those threats while also staving off the threats that whales might have to face with a return to commercial whaling,â Beynon said.
Japan will ask countries at the IWC meeting to vote on a so-called âreformâ proposal that would set âsustainableâ quotas for hunting some whale species.
In a statement to Guardian Australia, the newly appointed environment minister, Melissa Price, said Australia would send âa strong delegationâ to Brazil, and would âbe calling on like-minded nations to reject Japanâs proposalâ.
âAustralia is very concerned about Japanâs proposal and will strongly oppose any attempts to lift the global moratorium, or weaken the decision-making rules for commercial whaling,â she said.
âAustralia and Japan enjoy a deep and strong bilateral relationship, but we disagree on the issue of whales. We continue to call on Japan to end whaling.â
Japan hunts whales under a clause in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that allows for the killing of whales for scientific research.
Under Japanâs âreformâ proposal, the country also wants to alter the IWC voting rules so that the treatyâs schedule â" where details such as whaling quotas are set down â" can be altered with a simple majority, instead of the current three-quarter majority.
âThis is the most outrageous and outlandish proposal that we have seen from the pro-whaling camp for a long time,â Beynon said.
The last time there was an attempt to restart commercial whaling under the IWC was the 2010 meeting in Agadir, Morocco. That meeting came shortly after Australiaâs then-environment minister Peter Garrett announced the government would take Japan to the International Court of Justice to stop the hunting of whales in the Southern Ocean on the preten ce of âscientific researchâ â" a case Australia won in 2014.
But Japan restarted a research programme two years later, albeit with reduced quotas. In its most recent expedition into the Southern Ocean, Japan killed 333 Antarctic minke whales, including 122 pregnant females.
In a background document to Japanâs proposal, the country expresses frustration that the IWC had become âa mere forum of confrontationâ.Japan faces backlash over push to resume 'cruel' commercial whaling Read more
The split between anti-whaling and pro-whaling nations meant the IWC had, according to Japan, been âunable to make any substantial decisions on its core functions.â
In February, Japan wrote to all 87 IWC members and said âat least 11â countries were willing âto engage in the constructive dialogue.â
Beynon said HSI was urging all countries that did not want to see the return of âa cruel industry that decimated whal e populations in the last centuryâ to attend the Brazil meeting.
âBecause Japan does not like the decisions the IWC has been making, it is now trying to change the decision rules to make it a simple majority to get a commercial whaling quota. For the sake of the whales, we need to make sure that stays out of reach.â
Don Rothwell, professor of international law at Australian National University and an expert on the IWC, said in the past two decades, IWC members have been âroughly split on a fairly even basisâ between pro-whaling and pro-conservation.
He doubts Japan will be able to progress their proposal as they would need a 75% majority to alter the treaty.
âUnless thereâs some movement from pro-conservation states who see some merit in at least trying to open some level of whaling â" and take Japanâs position at face value that a sustainable whaling model is one that could be pursued â" I see very little prospect in the commission endo rsing the Japanese proposal.â
Rothwell gave credit to Japan for continuing to remain a part of the IWC and said the country was genuine about its reform proposals.
Rothwell added that there was a prospect that Australia may send an inexperienced minister to a key meeting. âThis would very much throw the spotlight on the conservation of whaling credentials of a Coalition government,â he added.Topics
- Australia news
- Our wide brown land
- Marine life
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