A withdrawal by Japan from the International Whaling Commission is unacceptable – Greenpeace response

December 20, 2018: Greenpeace Australia Pacific condemns the decision by the Japanese Government to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling.

“This snub to multilateralism is unacceptable and deeply concerning, but let us not forget that the Japanese fleet has been conducting commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research for many years,” Greenpeace Senior Campaigner, Nathaniel Pelle, said.

“The Japanese Government has a history of stubbornly refusing to work with the IWC on conservation initiatives designed to protect and allow for the recovery of whale species. Many of these, including the southern right whales in the Great Australian Bight, are yet to return to healthy population numbers since widespread commercial whaling was ended over 30 years ago.”

Japan had foreshadowed its withdrawal from the IWC in September when the majority of IWC members proposed to reform that organisation to prioritise the conservation of whales.

“This is a grave mistake and Greenpeace urges the government of Japan to reconsider its decision,” Pelle said.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison should contact Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, directly and ask him to return to the international negotiating table.

“In the past countries like the Netherlands have left the IWC and later returned. Ultimately, the protection of the world’s oceans and marine life needs global cooperation. We hope that Japan and will reverse its decision and take its place beside the nations trying to undo the damage human activities have done to whale populations.”

Pelle said the parallels between Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and the Morrison government’s approach to climate change are obvious.  

“As Mr Morrison is making his demands to Japan he should reflect on the irony of doing so while Australia snubs the international community when it comes to climate change and our Paris agreements,” he said.

“Unfortunately the threat to whales does not only come from the whalers’ harpoons. Right now the Rainbow Warrior is just a few kilometres from the Great Australian Bight whale sanctuary, itself at risk from dangerous oil drilling that the Australian government refuses to rule out.

“Just as the Australian government has a responsibility to stand up for the whales that are threatened by harpoons, it has a responsibility to put the whales of the Great Australian Bight before the interests of oil companies.”

For interviews

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan

0424 295 422

[email protected]