Japan proposed Monday, during an international conference, to lift the ban on commercial whaling with the argument that there are no scientific reasons to support what is supposed to be a temporary measure.
But the initiative faces strong opposition from countries that claim that many whale populations are still vulnerable or even because of the increasingly widespread perception that killing of cetaceans is unacceptable. Japan hunts whales according to a clause that allows for research purposes.
“The science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose populations are healthy enough to be exploited with sustainability,” according to the Japanese proposal presented on Monday during the semi-annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission that take place this week in Florianópolis, Brazil. “Japan proposes to establish a Committee dedicated to the sustainable hunting of whales (including commercial whaling and the subsistence of indigenous communities).”
Japan’s proposal would also change the functioning of the international body, reflecting its discomfort with an organization that says it has become “intolerant” and a “simple forum for confrontation.”
Although Japan says that the whaling stocks have recovered enough to allow their commercial fishing, ecologists say that experience shows the difficulty of controlling the hunting at sea.
“Time after time, species after species has been brought to the point of extinction,” said Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
It is not known when the vote will take place; the meeting will end on Friday. It could also happen that Japan withdraws the proposal or tries to negotiate the inclusion of parties in other proposals.
Japan has hunted whales for centuries as an alternate source of meat. Its catch has declined in recent years due in part to the decline in domestic demand for whale meat and the challenges of its hunting.
Japan has a current quota of 333 specimens, about one-third of the number it hunted before the International Court of Justice failed in 2014 that the country’s program lacked a scientific nature. Japan revised the program and resumed hunting in 2016.
However, the research program maintains its controversial nature and some argue that it is a front for commercial hunting because whale meat is still sold as food.
The attempt to resume commercial hunting could generate more opposition. Brazil has submitted a proposal that whale catch “is no longer a necessary economic activity and has reduced whale populations to dangerously low levels.” The United States agrees that the prohibition is necessary for conservation.
Source: El Vocero