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Following intense stand-offs with activists, Japan has pulled out of its annual whale hunt in Antarctica’s protected Southern Ocean, mid-season, while Latin American nations called on the nation to stop killing whales.
Deliberate disruption by activists is said to have forced the Japanese whalers to leave the Southern Ocean after reportedly killing only a fraction of their self-allocated quota of 935 minke 50 fin and 50 humpback whales, mid-way into the whaling season.
Although WSPA does not condone any activist actions which are illegal or endanger human life, naturally we welcome the news that the Japanese whaling fleet have decided to retreat from the Antarctic and that hundreds of whales will be saved from the whalers harpoons.
It is not yet known whether Japan’s whaling fleet will attempt to return to the whaling grounds or what this action means for the future of whaling in Japan.
Earlier in the week, the governments of nine Latin American nations, making up the majority of the Buenos Aires Group (BAG) of regional conservationist nations, issued a public statement calling on Japan to cease its so-called ‘scientific’ whaling activities in the Southern Ocean, for good.
WSPA had been involved in intense advocacy work urging the BAG, alongside other NGOs in the region, to take strong action against Japan for initiating its hunting season in the Southern Hemisphere.
In addition, last year, WSPA helped facilitate a meeting of government representatives from the BAG countries in Costa Rica which led to agreement that they would not support a proposed ‘compromise deal’ which would have effectively lifted the ban on commercial whaling and designated quotas to Japan, Norway and Iceland.
“WSPA celebrates the diplomatic action of the BAG to release a statement signed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, which strongly opposes the hunt and motivates Japan to cease its so-called scientific hunting programme,” says WSPA Latin America Campaigns Manager Marcela Vargas.
“WSPA is delighted to see the BAG become such a strong anti-whaling block within the IWC and staying true to its mandate of protecting whales by releasing this statement.”
Despite the temporary reprieve for whales in the Southern Ocean, Japan also hunt whales in the North Pacific and over a thousand more still face a slow and painful death in Norwegian and Icelandic waters each year,
WSPA believes there to be no humane way to kill whales at sea and that commercial whaling, whichever ocean it is conducted has no place in the 21st century.
Last year, we gathered more than 100,000 signatures from people all over the world, calling on Norway to end its cruel commercial whaling. It was the largest show of public opposition to Norway’s whaling since it resumed hunting in 1993.