Australia to 'vehemently' oppose Japan's push for commercial whaling, urges nations to stand firm against Tokyo

Sydney: Australia on Thursday vowed to "vehemently" oppose a new push by Japan to undermine a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and urged like-minded nations to stand firm against Tokyo. Japan has regularly sought an easing of the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) prohibition on commercial whaling and continues to kill the animals under what it calls a "scientific research" programme, despite international criticism.

 Australia to vehemently oppose Japans push for commercial whaling, urges nations to stand firm against Tokyo

File image. AP

At September's IWC meeting in Brazil, Tokyo said that it plans to "propose setting a catch quota for species whose stocks are recognised as healthy by the IWC scientific committee". Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was concerned by the proposal. "We strongly support the 30-year global moratorium on commercial whaling and will vehemently oppose any attempts to undermine the processes that support it," she said. This included "through changed voting regimes or the establishment of catch-limits for commercial whaling". She added that "at the commission meeting in September, Australia will be calling on like-minded nations to reject Japan's proposal."

Hideki Moronuki, an official in charge of whaling at Japan's fisheries agency, told AFP in June that the proposal would not specify which whale species and how many mammals Japan wants to hunt. But he said the IWC classifies several species as no longer depleted. Japan also plans measures to change the body's decision-making process, lowering the threshold for proposals to pass from three-quarters of members to half.

Tokyo claims its "scientific research" is necessary to prove whale populations are large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting, but Bishop said this was not correct. "The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them," she said.

Japan makes no secret of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables, despite a significant decline in the popularity of whale meat. During its most recent annual whale hunt, Japan reported it caught 333 minke whales, 122 of which were pregnant, sparking outrage among conservationists. Japanese officials said that the high rate of pregnant whales showed the strength of the minke population.

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Updated Date: Aug 02, 2018 18:20:05 IST