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21 Jul 2018 6:34
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  •   Home > News > International

    Japan wants to restructure IWC to make it easier for it to start commercial whaling again

    Japan wants to start commercial whaling again, and it's hoping a sweeping restructure of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will help it do just that.


    Japan is hoping to make it easier to resume commercial whaling, submitting a proposal to fundamentally restructure the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

    The Japan Fisheries Agency told the ABC it was hoping to get the IWC's moratorium on commercial whaling lifted at the Commission's biennial meeting in September.

    "We think the IWC should revise the zero-catch of whales," the agency's Yuki Morimoto said.

    "Japan is proposing that it should allow catching some species which are abundant and approved by the scientific committee."

    As of June, 40 of the 88 IWC members supported whaling while 48 opposed it, according to Japan's Fisheries Agency.

    But the IWC has been mired in deadlock, so Japan wants to shift the decision-making process from requiring a three-quarter majority, to just a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one.

    "We're saying let's change the IWC's decision making rules. The reason is at the moment pro-whaling countries and anti-whaling countries are in confrontation and the deadlock is continuing," Mr Morimoto said.

    "At the last IWC meeting in 2016, Japan raised the issue: can we go on like this?

    "Until now, Japan only proposed resuming commercial whaling and it was a proposal from one side.

    "This time we are also taking consideration of the anti-whaling countries so they can do what they want to do."

    Mr Morimoto said Japan wanted to coexist with anti-whaling countries, and Japan in theory could approve things in their interest, such as expanding whale sanctuaries.

    Japan's proposal looks set to face hurdles, with the Federal Government vowing to oppose any proposal that either restarts commercial whaling or weakens the rules for making decisions around it.

    "The Australian Government will continue to advocate strongly and consistently for the cessation of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling," Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

    "We strongly support the global moratorium on commercial whaling and will continue working through the International Whaling Commission to bring about a permanent end to this whaling."

    Anti-whaling campaigners have urged countries to stay strong during September's meeting and block any changes.

    "In fact, we consider it a moral imperative that they do so," Humane Society International's Nicola Beynon said.

    "The IWC must keep commercial whaling at bay because it has vital work to do to tackle the many other conservation and welfare threats that whales face in our oceans today."

    Japan has long maintained that many whale species were not endangered and that whaling was an important part of its food heritage.

    Towns have centuries-old whaling traditions, and attempts to stop this are seen as a threat to Japanese culture.

    Fisheries ministers have previously compared eating whale meat to eating kangaroo in Australia.

    A year ago, Japan passed a law enshrining the practice of whaling. It is now considering upgrading its fleet of vessels in a step toward returning to the controversial commercial practice.

    A ban on commercial whaling by the IWC came into force in 1986, with Japan commencing its program of scientific whaling a year later.

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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