Many whale species were at the brink of extinction when the world’s nations banded together to stop commercial whaling — but despite that, almost 30,000 have been killed since the global whaling ban was introduced in 1986. It’s happening right here on our doorstep: Japan is illegally hunting and killing more than 300 Antarctic minke whales every year in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. In addition, climate change, entanglement in fishing nets, plastic pollution, underwater noise and ship strikes threaten these gentle giants more with every passing year.
We know that sanctuaries save lives, protecting critical habitats and providing safe spaces for vulnerable whales to breed and mature. Australia has been a global leader in whale conservation since the Fraser government banned whaling in 1979.
We now need to rise again, demand new whale sanctuaries and better conservation measures, and step up and challenge the Japanese government over its needless, inhumane and illegal Southern Ocean slaughter.
Japan’s government claims that its Antarctic whaling program is for ‘scientific purposes’, but in truth it is lethal commercial whaling in disguise. Australia took Japan to court in 2013, and the International Court of Justice issued a binding ruling in March 2014 that their Antarctic whaling program broke international law and had to immediately stop.
The verdict was a giant leap forward for whales, science and humanity — and Japan advised that it would comply with the ruling. Disappointingly, the respite for the Southern Ocean’s whales didn’t last long. Japan started a brand new program of lethal ‘research’ whaling in the Southern Ocean in December 2015.
The momentous decision to take legal action took years of hard work, behind the scenes, from AMCS and other conservation groups working with governments, lawyers and scientists to convince our leaders to take this case forward.
AMCS helped spearhead a global campaign in the 1980s that led to the world’s first global ban on commercial whaling.
In 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) decided put a hold on commercial whaling of all whale species and populations from the 1985 onwards — a ban that remains in place today, despite Japan’s continued whaling.
Thanks to the passion of whale lovers everywhere, tens of thousands of majestic whales are alive today and for generations to come.
With the government of Japan once again hunting hundreds of Antarctic minke whales, and both Iceland and Norway continuing commercial whaling in the Northern Hemisphere, it is time for anti-whaling governments to once again take a stand for the world’s whales.
In 2010 the International Whaling Commission 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. AMCS was part of the international negotiations that fought off the disastrous compromise at the eleventh hour.
However the divisions continue. The IWC has failed to prevent countries killing whales under the pretence of”‘scientific whaling”, or by taking out “reservations” so they can continue commercial whaling.
At its 2016 meeting, Australia led a landmark resolution approved by the 88 nations of the International Whaling Commission, which narrows the loophole that allows nations to kill whales for scientific research.
While the resolution did not completely close the loophole, it put greater pressure on Japan to end Antarctic whaling and opens up the possibility of further legal action if they continue.
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