Australia Mounts Pressure on Japan to Ban Whaling
Close on the heels of signing the Kyoto Protocol, the newly-formed Labour Government in Australia is sending out a clear message about its priorities with regard to environment conservation worldwide. Australia and some 30 other countries lodged a diplomatic protest to send ‘very powerful signal’ of international displeasure over Japan’s whaling program, despite Tokyo’s suspension of its plans to kill humpbacks, reports IHT.
Late Friday, Australia led a group of nations in lodging a diplomatic protest with the Japanese ambassador to Australia. Commercial hunts of humpbacks have been banned worldwide since 1966, and commercial whaling overall since 1986.
“Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said it was the largest single diplomatic protest yet against Japan’s whaling program. He praised Japan for suspending plans to add up to 50 humpback whales to its annual hunt of 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales, but said Japan must do more.”
Among the countries who joined Australia in voicing opposition to Japan’s whaling program were France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, the UK and Uruguay. The European Commission also participated in the protest, reports Melbourne Herald Sun.
Last week, Mr Smith and Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced that an Australian Customs vessel would monitor the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.
“The Japanese government is desperately trying to reduce stockpiles from last season, encouraging public schools and the food industry to increase whale meat consumption, reported The Australian,” according to another news report. Backed by Japanese government’s initiative to reduce 3,798 tonnes of whale meat stockpile, more Japanese schools have now started serving whale meat for children’s school lunches.
“In Japan, whale meat jerky has also been sold as dog food – although the company denies that this has continued. Another company, Asian Lunch, which runs street vendors in Tokyo’s central district, last month introduced whale mince curry for white collared workers. It has been serving 600 dishes of whale curry a day in 14 places in Tokyo.”
Meanwhile “the U.S., which currently chairs the International Whaling Commission, recently held several rounds of talks with Japan to seek a one to two year suspension of the humpback hunt,” reports the Associated Press.
Commercial hunts of humpbacks — which were nearly harpooned to extinction in the 20th century — were banned in the Southern Pacific in 1963, and that ban was extended worldwide in 1966. The American Cetacean Society estimates the humpback population has recovered to about 30,000-40,000 — about a third of the number before modern whaling. The species is listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union.
(Photo above: “A lunch vendor serves a whale meat curry lunch box to customers at a vending van in Tokyo. Whale curry made its debut as a takeaway business in Tokyo, attracting curious customers who seldom have the meat amid an international row over hunting the giant mammals.” — courtesy: AFP)
Whaling is the harvesting of free-roaming whales from the oceans and dates back to at least 6,000 BC. Whaling and other threats have led to at least 5 of the 13 great whales being listed as endangered. Commercial whaling is subject to a moratorium by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). More here…