Whaling Commission working group promotes return of commercial whaling:

Greenpeace response

Press release - 23 February, 2010
Greenpeace today called for a proposal by a working group of the International Whaling Commission that would allow the return of commercial whaling to be rejected out of hand, describing it as a dangerous throwback to the 20th century when whales where hunted to near extinction.

"The proposal rewards Japan for decades of reprehensible behaviour at the International Whaling Commission and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," said John Frizell, Head of the Greenpeace Whales Campaign. "We are at a critical junction for both whaling and ocean conservation. A return to commercial whaling would not only be a disaster for whales but will send shock waves through international ocean conservation efforts, making it vastly more difficult to protect other rapidly-declining species such as tuna and sharks."

The so-called 'reform' plans appear to legitimise Japan's 'research' whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which is a fraud conducted through a loophole in the IWC regulations. The IWC has never requested the 'research' and has repeatedly called on Japan to end it.

In a further insult to conservation, the proposal would allow the setting of quotas based on arbitrary figures not justified by scientifically peer-reviewed population estimates. The plan provides a table of catch limits for each of the next 10 years, with Antarctic catch limits labelled 'TBD' - 'To be decided'.(1)

"The only number that should be decided is zero," said Frizell.

"While heralding a return to commercial whaling, perversely the proposal talks about how the IWC would make greater efforts for conservation, including recovery of endangered species. This is just greenwash," he continued. "Splitting the IWC in half, with conservationists working for the recovery of endangered species while whalers are free to exploit the few healthy populations with the same methods that caused the problem in the first place, is nothing short of lunacy."

Rather than rewarding the Japanese government with its internationally condemned whaling programme, the IWC should instead be investigating it, starting with allegations of corruption and embezzlement made by Greenpeace investigators in 2008. Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, are on trial and facing up to ten years in jail, despite a United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upholding their rights to carry out the investigation in accordance with international law, and declaring that the Japanese government had breached their human rights by detaining them.  

Greenpeace calls upon all members of the IWC to reject this deal and instead work on bringing the IWC into the 21st century as a body dedicated entirely to the conservation and restoration of whale populations.

Other contacts: John Frizell, Greenpeace International Whales Campaign Coordinator:
Tel: +44 780 1212 999

Greenpeace International Press Desk
Tel: +31 20 718 2470

Notes: (1) The proposal is available online, with the table of numbers appearing on page 11.

The text from the Support Group will be discussed in early March at an IWC meeting that will not have decision-making powers. Subject to the outcome of that discussion, it could go forward to the 62nd IWC meeting, taking place 21-25 June, in Agadir, Morocco, for a binding decision, with the numbers of whales to be killed in place.