Whales face a greater number of threats today that at any stage in their past. Climate change, capture in fishing nets, widespread plastic pollution, underwater noise pollution and ship strikes threaten our ocean giants.
The last thing they need is a return to industrial scale whaling, but there are a number of countries who want just that.
We’re fighting to make sure the global ban (moratorium) on whaling stays in place and to stop countries trying to get around the ban by killing whales for so-called ‘scientific research’.
The International Whaling Commission
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) oversees whaling and, more and more, the conservation of whales. It meets every two years in what has become a deeply divided forum split between pro-whaling and anti-whaling countries.
In 2010 the IWC reached crisis point. Despite deep divides between pro-whaling nations like Japan, Iceland and Norway and anti-whaling countries like Australia, the UK and Brazil, the meeting came perilously close to approving a return to commercial whaling under an ill founded compromise deal aiming to resolve the deep disputes within the IWC. AMCS was part of the international negotiations that fought off the disastrous compromise at the eleventh hour.
September 2014 marked the first meeting of the Commission since the landmark ruling of the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Japan’s so-called ‘scientific whaling’ program in the Antarctic was illegal. Not surprisingly, the meeting proved to be a showdown. The governments of Australia and New Zealand were robust in their opposition to further ‘scientific’ whaling, however the Government of Japan was defiant. They started a brand new program of lethal ‘research’ whaling in the Southern Ocean in December 2015.
In October 2016 Australia led a landmark resolution approved by the 88 nations of the IWC at their meeting in Slovenia, which narrows the loophole that allows nations to kill whales for scientific research.
While the resolution does not completely close the loophole, it does put greater pressure on Japan to end Antarctic whaling and opens up the country up to legal ramifications if they continue their program.
An opportunity to act
When the IWC met in October 2016, anti-whaling nations, like Australia, once again took Japan to task for again hunting and killing hundreds of Antarctic whales in the name of ‘science’.
Global efforts are needed to protect whales now more than ever. It is crucial that the IWC become a champion for whale conservation. Whaling nations have blocked much needed conservation measures like whale sanctuaries at recent meetings, whilst pushing to overturn the whaling moratorium. Enough is enough.
Australia has been a global leader in whale conservation since the Fraser government banned whaling in 1979. Australia must once again stand tallest for the whales when the IWC meets in Slovenia on 20-28 October.
AMCS will continue fighting for action.
LANDMARK International Court Case
In 2013, the Australian Government instigated legal action against the Government of Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an attempt to end Japan's 'scientific' whaling.