U.S. floats a draft resolution that would legitimize scientific whaling

by Phil Kline

July 10, 2014

UPDATE: Great news for whales! Shortly after we shared this information, we were contacted by a senior US official who assured us that the US will NOT be proposing any resolution on Annex P (which discusses the validity of so-called research whaling) at the upcoming IWC meeting. We also were informed that the draft language in the leaked proposal will NOT be used. The countries that challenged Japan’s Antarctic whaling at the International Court of Justice are working on a resolution that Greenpeace is optimistic about being able to support. Well continue to watch this issue very closely and will update as we know more.

Just a few months ago, the US State Department claimed that lethal scientific whaling was completely unnecessary. Now it appears the US is poised to allow Japan to continue scientific whaling with just a bit more paperwork.

Greenpeace just received a leaked US draft resolution of an International Whaling Commission (IWC) proposal that essentially invites Japan to continue its Antarctic whaling program as long as its scientific.In its own words,lethal sampling[(also known as whaling])…is appropriate in relation to achieving the stated objectives.

The US has long rejected this scientific claim for whaling which is what makes this proposal so shocking.


Just this March, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan must end its Antarctic whaling program as it was not being conducted for purposes of scientific research. Japan has been killing minke whales and critically endangered fin whales for years, selling their meat.The ICJ decision would protect whales in the Antarctic from pointless slaughter. Japan even announced an end to its next season of Southern Ocean whaling which will make 2015 thefirst year in more than a century in which no whales will be harpooned in the Antarctic. Now, the (IWC) with US leadership plans to undermine that protection with this process to legitimize future scientific whaling.

That decision would protect whales in the Antarctic from pointless slaughter. Japan even ended its Southern Ocean whaling. Now, the (IWC) with US leadership plans to undermine that protection with this process to legitimize future scientific whaling.

So the US publicly states scientific whaling is unnecessary, and then a few months later drafts a proposal to legitimize it? Wait, what?

The IWC proposal does not even mention the ICJ ruling to end Japans whaling nor does it include any call for Japan NOT to resume scientific whaling in the Antarctic. It simply amends the Scientific Committee’s flawed procedure for reviewing scientific permits, Annex P, leaving its flaws intact.

Greenpeace has identified the following three elements as necessary for changes to Annex P to move whale conservation forward and live up to the reasoning specified in the ICJ judgment:

An acknowledgment of the need for a procedure to replace or supplement Annex P, to ensure that any future special permits for the take of whales can only be issued legally for the purposes of scientific research in accordance with the reasoning specified in the ICJ judgment;

An instruction to the Scientific Committee to provide advice on whether any new or existing Special Permit proposal that it has received has demonstrated that the proposed takes are necessary and proportionate and that the objectives could not be met by non-lethal means;

A recommendation (under Article VI of the Convention) that no further permits for lethal takes of whales under existing or new scientific whaling programmes be issued before the Commission has considered the advice of the Scientific Committee on the programme in question and determined whether the proposal is for purposes of scientific research as specified by the judgment.

This proposal would roll back all the meaningful progress made for whale conservation inviting Japan to continue senseless whaling .

Its up all of us to let the US government know that moving forward with this resolution to legitimize scientific whaling is unacceptable. The US State Department said it best in 2012: The United States continues to view the commercial whaling moratorium as a necessary conservation measure and believes that lethal scientific whaling is unnecessary in modern whale conservation management.

We couldnt agree more. The US should lead on ending scientific whaling, not lead on supporting it.


Phil Kline

By Phil Kline

Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.

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