Oceania: Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

Activists clash with Japanese Whaling Fleet


Greenpeace activists hindering whaling in the Whale Sanctuary
Greenpeace activists hindering whaling in the Whale Sanctuary

In the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary around Antarctica anti-whaling activists in three ships, the Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise from Greenpeace, and the Farley Mowat from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are shadowing a five ship Japanese Whaling fleet in an attempt to stop illegal whaling activities. Greenpeace activists on the 21 and 22 December clashed with the Japanese whaling fleet. [ Report 1 | Report 2 | Greenpeace Videos ].

While the Australian Government has refused to take action against Japanese Whaling, storms and high seas have hampered whale hunting over Christmas. Further clashes are forecast, with Captain Paul Watson of the Farley Mowat threatening a showdown with the Japanese fleet to "do everything we can with the resources at our disposal to shut down their illegal slaughter of these gentle and intelligent creatures.", including sustaining damages to their ship if necessary.

Perth IMC | Melbourne IMC | Greenpeace Ocean Defenders Blog | Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Japanese Fisheries Agency has arbitrarily doubled its quota of whales slaughtered this year to 935 minkes, and 10 fin whales under the pretext of scientific research but in reality to supply the luxury restaurant trade with the delicacy of whale meat. The scientific basis by Japan's research program (JARPAII) has been severely criticised by New Zealand scientists, who argue the Japanese research contains numerous flaws, and is based on speculative and unsound science. Key findings include:

  • Most of the data proposed to be collected in Japan's programme is not required for the management of conservation of whale stocks;
  • Many of the objectives of the programme are based on unsubstantiated or incorrect assumptions;
  • Many of the identified objectives can be addressed through analysis of data from Japan's previous 18-year scientific programme;
  • The few objectives that do have some relevance to the management and conservation of whale stocks can be addressed better using non lethal methods;
  • There are serious concerns about the impact of the proposed kills on protected stocks for which there are no agreed abundance estimates; and
  • The proposed kills are being undertaken in the IWC approved Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary which was set up to allow scientific study of the recovery of whale stocks without whaling.
New Zealand Scientific critique of Japanese Scientific Whaling
See also: The JARPN II program: a critique (PDF), World Wildlife Fund on Japanese Scientific Whaling.

According to Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd society, crimes being committed by Japan include:

  1. The Japanese are whaling in violation of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling. The IWC scientific committee does not recognize this bogus research that the Japanese are using as an excuse.
  2. The Japanese are killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
  3. The Japanese are killing whales unlawfully in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
  4. The Japanese are targeting fin whales this year and humpback whales next year. These are endangered species, and thus, this is a violation of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
  5. The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19(a) The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: 19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin, and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.
  6. In addition, the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: ?(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.? Fin and humpback whales are both baleen whales and are subject to this moratorium.

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add a comment on this article

Good work

David Nickarz 27.Dec.2005 14:17

Thank you for the thorough and informative piece on the Japanese whaling issue. It's nice to read something from the non-mainstream media that provides so much detail. After googling news from all around the world, yours is the first site to actually list the violations of the Japanese whaling fleet in such detail.

Keep up the good work Indymedia!

David Nickarz
Winnipeg, Canada

Japanese Whalers accuse Greenpeace of Piracy

Takver 27.Dec.2005 16:48

Japanese whalers are feeling the pressure of the anti-whaling campaign with their scientific credibility under attack, the cruelty of methods used to kill whales exposed, and the whale hunt disrupted by protest and storms. Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown has labelled them as "D-grade butchers masquerading as scientists". Now it seems the whalers have turned to vilification, accusing Greenpeace of Piracy and Sea Shepherd of being a terrorist orgaisation.

From the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary Captain Paul Watson called on the Australian Government to send a naval ship to keep the peace and to observe what is going on near Antarctica. He accused the Japanese whaling fleet of flagrant violation of numerous international and Australian laws, as well as maritime violations in ramming a Greenpeace ship and in attempting to ram his own ship, the Farley Mowat, on Christmas Day.

Troubled Waters: A Review Of The Welfare Implications Of Modern Whaling Activities

Delicasy for who?

Peter 27.Dec.2005 23:48

While our world becomes more industrialized, economized we will need to protect things. Protecting whales by giving them a southern hemisphere range sounds like a wonderful idea and possibly a international law. Governments who voted to protect this area should also monitor the area and provide teeth for the law. Studies in which animals are killed and sold for food should not be legal. Thanks Greenpeace and the individuals who are protecting these creatures. Japan should not be allowed to create its own market when international waters and protected areas are in question.


The Japanese Whale Industry has a credibility problem

Takver 29.Dec.2005 14:51

The Institute of Cetacean Research director-general, Hiroshi Hatanaka, has attacked a critique of Japanese whaling by three New Zealand scientists and the New Zealand Minister for Conservation, Chris Carter. He accused the critique of being a recycling of politically motivated arguments which New Zealand scientists put forward at a meeting of the IWC's scientific committee in June. "Of course we know that Greenpeace has been misleading the public on issues related to whaling for many years but it is unfortunate that the minister has now chosen to use the same tactics," Dr Hatanaka said in a statement.

First Dr Hatanaka attempts to smear Greenpeace, while the Japanese whaling industry flagrantly ignores a whale sanctuary established 23 votes to 1 by International agreement in 1994, violates international conservation law, violates international maritime law with other shipping, and hypocritically pursues commercial whaling under the banner of science, that lacks any peer reviewed credibility.

The report was launched on December 22 with the Minister reported by the NZPA to have said:

"Those whales will be killed inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and well outside Japan's own territorial waters. For any nation to contemplate this kind of programme, it should at the very least have a robust scientific justification. Japan does not."

"This critique has been compiled by New Zealand's internationally respected whale experts. It demonstrates that the reasons Japan is using to kill whales in the Southern Ocean lack scientific credibility." the Minister said

New Zealand scientists, Simon Childerhouse, Mike Donoghue and Scott Baker, argue the Japanese research contains numerous flaws, and is based on speculative and unsound science.

'TROUBLED WATERS: A Review Of The Welfare Implications Of Modern Whaling Activities' is a report produced on behalf of a global coalition of animal welfare societies led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, released in 2004, It states:

"Modern day whaling activities give rise to serious animal welfare concerns. A number of factors inherent in current whaling practices render it unlikely that truly humane standards could ever be achieved. On grounds of animal welfare alone, therefore, all whaling operations should be halted." (page 10)

On the special permit which Japan hunts under in the Southern Ocean, the report says:

"When doubt is so clearly cast upon the validity of a scientific proposal and its ability to achieve its aims, then the lethal take of any animals is likely to be judged as unethical. Additionally, if the specified number of animals to be used will not achieve a conclusive result, then the research proposal must be seen as flawed. An ethical approval permit would not be issued for this work in other areas of animal research."
('Ethics and whaling under special permit', Laila Sadler, Scientific Officer, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Southwater, Horsham, UK.)

The report further states:

"Japan continues to issue special permits for the killing of whales in scientific research programmes. However, there has never been unequivocal approval of any of these research proposals by the IWC’s Scientific Committee. Furthermore, the Commission has expressed considerable concern through several resolutions on scientific whaling, including, most recently, a call on “the government of Japan to halt the JARPA program, or to revise it so that it is limited to non-lethal research methodologies”4. A critique of one such programme, the ‘JARPN’ programme, by a number of scientists from the Scientific Committee during the 2002 Annual Meeting (IWC 2002b) revealed that:

* there are no meaningful quantifiable measures by which to judge the research;
* lethal sampling is not essential to the research, as biopsy sampling could provide genetic and
dietary information;
* Japan describes JARPN II as a “multi-species modelling approach to whale management”; yet no such
approach has been agreed by the Commission.

('Whaling and welfare', Philippa Brakes, Mark Simmonds, Philip Lymbery)

The report says that Japan has failed "to submit their research to an ethical review process, and have not presented any mechanism for reducing the numbers of animals involved. In fact, the number of animals taken
under special permit by Japan is increasing significantly. The expansion of the JARPN programme to
include both more individual animals and a greater variety of species does not accord with the basic
principles of ‘Replacement’, ‘Reduction’ and ‘Refinement’."

"Japan has proved unwilling to subject the data from its special permit whaling operations to comprehensive peer review. It can be argued that the science of special permit whaling is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that
commercial, political, social and cultural factors appear to significantly influence the experimental design of this research. The research priorities appear to pivot around justifications for the resumption of commercial whaling, rather than a desire to evaluate the many threats that cetacean species now face."

Dr Hatanaka said that Mr Carter "is mixing science and advocacy to promote a politically motivated anti-whaling position in a way that degrades the credibility of his scientists."

Who has a credibility problem here?

Report by the New Zealand scientists (PDF 41kb)

A Review Of The Welfare Implications Of Modern Whaling Activities.
 http://www.whalewatch.org/report.asp TROUBLED WATERS:

Green Peace = Anti-Poor

Anonymous 01.Jan.2006 07:52

Whale hunting is a tough business, which is why its working-poor who do it.
Green-Peace wants to make it harder for the poor of Japan to earn a living by curbing their operations.
Working people of the world unite against Green-Peace!

Don't Rock the Boat...sink the fuc*er

Saint A(Land Pirates) 03.Jan.2006 01:16

I had a great time hanging out and chipping rust on your boat. I wish I could have made it for this one. Maybe next time! You are all amazing people!


Blake S. 08.Jan.2006 17:04

There was alot of good information about this topic and it helped me alot with my report! Thank you again.

From, Blake

The poor...

Joe 26.Apr.2006 11:32

It's true, the poor will have a job harvesting these whales. However, if one harvests an endangered/close to being endangered species regularly in large numbers, that species will cease to exist, or be endangered. Once that species is gone, what will they do then? Find another job, while their options are lowered.

If whale populations are allowed to return to a state where some harvesting whales actually increases their growth in population, then it'll be perfectly legal probably. There will still be objections, but there always will be. The problem is humans cannot wait, and I don't blame them. Starving for food, wanting simply to survive, that is what it's like for many. The choice is between human lives now and human lives in the future.