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Latin American, Caribbean and International NGOs call governments to stop Japan whaling policy in Antarctica

January 19, 2015 (CCC News) – Forty-seven civil organizations from Latin America, the Caribbean and international called on Monday the Buenos Aires Group – Latin American countries at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) – to conduct urgent actions oriented to publicly reject the intentions of the government of Japan to continue slaughtering whales at a commercial-scale in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary under allegedly “scientific” purposes.

The call of the NGOs follows the presentation last November of a new “scientific” whaling plan in Antarctica by the government of Japan, called NEWREP-A, which includes, among others, the annual catch of over 300 minke whales. The plan is part of the actions conducted by Japan after the landmark ruling of the International Court of Justice, that in March 31, 2014 ruled that the killing of whales of that country in Antarctica under alleged “scientific” research purposes is illegal since it violates the global moratorium on commercial whaling and the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

The delivery of the letter to the Buenos Aires Group coincides with the recent departure of the whaling fleet to Antarctica to conduct a “census” of whales by non-lethal methods, a move that forms part of the Japanese government strategy to gain support to its intentions to continue hunting hundreds of whales each year for “scientific” purposes in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, starting from December 2015.

Among the main concerns expressed by 47 civil society organizations from over 15 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and international, regarding the new Japanese whaling plan in Antarctic NEWREP-A, the NGOs stress that the self assigned annual quota of 333 antarctic minke whales during the next twelve years is 3,300% higher than the quota suggested by the only scientific expert of Japan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and exceeds by 32% the number of minke whales killed by Japan during the last season of JARPA II, the “scientific” whaling program that was sentenced as illegal by the ICJ last March.

Whereas one of the important aspects of the ICJ judgment was the commercial scale of its whaling operations, the NGOs also call the attention that the hunting quota assigned under NEWREP-A by Japan only represents an effective decrease of 7,7% compared to the average number of minke whales killed since 2005 under the illegal whaling program JARPA II.

The letter also notes that the objective of NEWREP-A is the elimination of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, which was created in 1994 with the support of all members of the International Whaling Commission except for the government of Japan. This is because the main goal of the new whaling plan is the application of a formula, known as the Revised Management Procedure or RMP, which is used to calculate commercial whaling quotas.

The organizations also claim that the data NEWREP-A expects to collect by killing hundreds of whales annually may be gathered through non-lethal scientific research, revealing that the underlying objective of the new whaling program would not be scientific but would be designed to unilaterally impose Japanese pro whaling policies in the Southern Hemisphere. In this regard, the NGOs recall that one of the reasons for the judgment of the ICJ against JARPA II illegal whaling program was that its implementation was based on “logistical and political reasons, rather than scientific.”

Additionally the civil organizations call the attention of the governments of the region about the expansion of Japanese whaling operations in Antarctica to the southwest Atlantic and southeast Pacific, which coincide with the Search and Rescue area of several countries of the Buenos Aires Group, that will be require to attend any accident or incident generated by the anachronistic japanese whaling fleet that operates in Antarctica.

The letter also notes that the Japanese government seeks to implement the new whaling program in Antarctica, without proper scrutiny of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, the only body designated for this task, and without the proper review by all IWC member countries.

Finally civil organizations emphasize that NEWREP-A contains the same elements as the illegal whaling program JARPA II: it uses the same and anachronistic Japanese whaling fleet, which constitutes a danger to the delicate Antarctic marine ecosystem and human life; it will be implemented by the same body that developed JARPA and JARPA II (Institute for Cetacean Research or ICR); it will continue to commercialize the meat and products obtained with the only political goal of eliminating de facto the global moratorium on commercial whaling and the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary; and it will capture a larger number of whales than the illegal JARPA II program.

Therefore the NGOs called the Buenos Aires Group to take urgent actions oriented to stop the implementation of NEWREP-A and make a formal rejection to the IWC secretariat about the irregular review process of this new whaling program by the Japanese government in Antarctica.

In this regard, Elsa Cabrera, executive director of the Cetacean Conservation Center (Chile) stated that “we expect that the strong call of civil society organizations – representing the interests of millions of people from Latin America and the Caribbean – is promptly attended by the Buenos Aires Group since the implementation of NEWREP-A constitutes a serious threat to governance of a key area for our region, such as the Antarctic. NEWREP-A not only ignores the landmark ruling of the International Court of Justice, which required the Japanese government to refrain from issuing new permits for scientific whaling, buy it also constitutes a serious breach to the current regulatory regime of the IWC, in particular to the moratorium on commercial whaling and the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary”.

Source: Center for Cetacean Conservation