Marine conservationists Sea Shepherd are claiming Japan's decision to abandon whaling around Antarctica as a victory, though their battle will go on with the Asian nation moving to resume hunting elsewhere. On Boxing Day, Japan announced it was leaving the International Whaling Commission so it could resume commercial hunting of the marine mammals in their territorial waters.
Marine conservationists Sea Shepherd, who have clashed with whalers many times, were delighted to see the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, captain Paul Watson in a statement. We look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan and Iceland. Whaling as a 'legal' industry has ended.
Environmental action group Greenpeace and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters both expressed disappointment in Japan's decision to leave the IWC and commence commercial whaling in Japan's waters.
Japan announced that it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts for the animals for the first time in 30 years, but said it would no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticized annual killings.
Japan switched to what it calls research whaling after the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s, and now says stocks have recovered enough to resume commercial hunts.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan would resume commercial whaling in July in line with Japan's basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence.
He added that Japan is disappointed that the IWC - which he said is dominated by conservationists - focuses on the protection of whale stocks even though the commission has a treaty mandate for both whale conservation and the development of the whaling industry.
Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views, he said at a news conference.
Suga said the commercial hunts would be limited to Japan's territorial waters and its 323-kilometre exclusive economic zone along its coasts. He said Japan would stop its annual whaling expeditions to the Antarctic and northwest Pacific oceans. Non-signatory states are not allowed to do so, according to Japanese Fisheries Agency officials.
Japanese officials said Japan, even after leaving the whaling convention, will remain as an observer to the IWC and plans to continue participating in the group's scientific meetings and annual conferences.
The environmental group Greenpeace condemned the announcement and disputed Japan's view that whale stocks have recovered, and noted that ocean life is being threatened by pollution as well as overfishing.
The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures, Sam Annesley, executive director of Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement. The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling.
Australia's government, often a vocal critic of Japan's whaling policies, said in a statement that it was extremely disappointed with Japan's decision to quit the commission.