Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Japan's Whaling Offensive Media Briefing


Greenpeace Media Briefing January 2000

Background: The Japanese government, pressed by its whaling industry, has embarked on an ambitious programme to resume large scale commercial whaling on the high seas, despite international opposition.

This century, unregulated whaling has led to the over- exploitation, and subsequent decline, of whale populations. In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) responded by instigating an indefinite moratorium on commercial whaling, which came into effect in 1986. This was further strengthened when, in 1994, it declared that whaling would be permanently banned in the seas around the Antarctic that are of particular importance to whales: the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

As we enter the new millennium, Japan is the only country that continues to ignore the IWC and violate international law by whaling in this protected area. It does so by exploiting a loophole in the IWC’s charter that permits 'scientific' whaling. Japan's catch is, however, sold commercially on the open market.

Japan is struggling to keep its whaling industry, and the whale meat market, alive. It continues to build new whaling ships and provide 'on the job' training for the next generation of whalers. Recently, it has stepped up its attempts to 'buy' votes from small, developing countries in return for foreign aid in order to weaken whale protection regulations. It has also launched a public relations offensive which falsely suggests that whales' fish consumption is the predominant cause of global fisheries’problems.

Opening International Markets for Whale Products: The Government of Japan, with the support of Norway, is actively lobbying countries that are members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to lift the current ban on all international trade in whale products. Together, Japan and Norway have formally proposed that four populations of whales, including minke whales in the Southern Ocean and the north east Atlantic, be ‘downlisted’ from Appendix 1 to Appendix 2 of CITES, which would mean that products from these whales could be exported to Japan. If Japan and Norway are successful, the resumption of international trade in whale products will provide a powerful incentive to both countries to substantially increase their whaling and may well prompt other countries to resume the commercial hunting of these and other whale species to take advantage of a lucrative trade with Japan.

The next CITES meeting is to be held in Nairobi, April 2000.

New Ships: In 1991, the Japanese whaling industry commissioned a new factory ship, converted from a modern stern trawler. In 1998, the keel was laid for the first new catcher boat to be built in Japan in 26 years. When it was completed, five months later, this high powered vessel was heralded by the Japanese whaling industry as a symbol for the re-opening of large scale, commercial whaling. Its first assignment was to catch protected whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, over 10,000 miles from Japan.

Vote buying: Japan gives aid money to six Eastern Caribbean countries and the Solomon Islands. These countries speak in support of resumed whaling and vote with Japan on all occasions at IWC meetings. This summer, the Japanese media reported that Japan is planning to press for similar support from a further thirteen countries in order to gain a majority vote in favour of resuming commercial whaling at the next meeting of the IWC, to be held in Australia in July 2000. The countries targeted include: Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Namibia, Morocco, Mauritania and South Pacific Island countries.

Reports also indicate that Japan intends to use the votes of these countries at the next CITES meeting.

Blaming the Whales for the World’s Fishing Crisis: Over the last two years, Japan has asserted that whales eat so many fish that they are responsible for depleted stocks and, subsequently, the problems facing the fishing industry today. Japan claims that food consumption by cetaceans is up to 500 million tonnes a year, equivalent to "roughly three to six times the total estimated recent world-wide marine fisheries catch".

However, most fish species eaten by whales are not the targets of commercial fisheries. For example, Japan calculates that whales consume up to 269 million tonnes of seafood in the Southern Hemisphere alone, yet the baleen whales of the Antarctic eat only krill, which is considered to be one of the most abundant populations of sea life and is of little commercial value. The toothed whales feed on deep sea, giant squid which dive so deep and swim so fast that humans cannot catch them at all.

Furthermore, the fish or squid eaten by whales may be predators of commercially valuable varieties of fish. In this case the presence of whales, keeping the predator population under control, is likely to lead to increased populations of commercially valuable fish.

The damage to fisheries world-wide is a result of over fishing, often driven by subsidies given by industrialised nations to their domestic fishing fleets. Whales have existed in balance with fish for millions of years and, before industrial fishing began, large populations of whales co-existed with large populations of fish.

For further information please contact Sarah Duthie, Greenpeace New Zealand 09-630-6317 or 025- 927-301 Matilda Bradshaw at the Greenpeace International press desk on +31 20 524 9545

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Passports And IDs Left Online: Privacy Breach On Tuia 250 Aplications

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage yesterday revealed it had mistakenly exposed the sensitive details of about 300 mostly young people online...

Technology commentator Paul Spain said while most of the information was gone from the internet, the question was who had accessed it while it was online.

"This could be a problem for them for months if not years to come because others are now able to impersonate them and they could do all sorts of things when they [can] pretend to be someone else." More>>


Cutting Tape, Rasing Super Age, Cutting Business Payment Times...: National's Economic Discussion Doc

National has today released its fourth Discussion Document, which focusses on the economy and outlines a range of policies that will help rebuild business confidence, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. More>>


NZ First Statement: Passing Of Pita Paraone

“On behalf of New Zealand First let me express our condolences to Pita’s wife, Elva, his three children and wider whānau,” said Mr Peters. “Northland and the people of New Zealand have lost a man who cared deeply for his people and country, and worked endlessly to make New Zealand a better country for us all.” More>>


Gordon Campbell: Why NZ Shouldn’t Try To Curry Favour With Trump

Dutifully, Denmark had lined up militarily alongside the US in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Syria and during the Iraq War. This means nothing. In a heartbeat, the current US President will trash any ally, and on the flimsiest of pretexts. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>


Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>


Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>


Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>


Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>





InfoPages News Channels