Monday, 2 February 2015
IWC Expert Panel Review Workshop on Japan's revised lethal whale research program in Antarctic waters scheduled for 7-10 February 2015
Since the Government of Japan first began its lethal research program to circumvent its obligations under the moratorium on whale hunting imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1985-6, it has officially killed an est. 10,919 whales in Antarctic waters.
Last year the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or licence to kill, take or treat whales in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention, in pursuance of that programme but left the door open for Japan to issue other permits in the future.
Japan has responded to a non-binding International Whaling Commission (IWC) vote to impose strict limits on its ‘scientific whaling’ programme, by announcing that it will proceed with a new round of culls in the Southern Ocean next year regardless.
The 65th meeting of the world’s whale conservation body voted by 35 to 20 with five abstentions in favour of a resolution by New Zealand, requiring members to put future scientific whaling programmes to the IWC’s scientific committee and the biennial commission itself for guidance.
Had Japan respected the vote, it would have extended until 2016 a one year moratorium that Tokyo declared after the International Court of Justice judged it in breach of IWC rules on scientific whaling.
However, the IWC Report of the Scientific Committee in May 2014 indicates that Japan’s so-called scientific research program continues to be scrutinised by the commission:
17.4.2 Planning for review of future Japanese Special Permit research in Antarctic
Japan announced that the Government of Japan plans to issue a Special Permit for a new research programme in the Antarctic starting in the season 2015/16. Japan wishes this programme to be reviewed at the 2015 Annual Meeting, in accordance with ‘Annex P’.
The new proposal will be reviewed under the process stipulated in the Annex P. Japan will submit a new proposal to the chair of the Scientific Committee no later than six months before the next Annual Meeting of the Scientific Committee in 2015 (October/November 2014).
The proposal should then be reviewed by a small specialist workshop with a limited but adequate number of invited experts.
The Workshop should be organised at least 100 days before the Annual Meeting in 2015 (January/February 2015).
Results of the Workshop should be duly submitted to the next Annual Meeting of the Committee in 2015 for its final review.
The Government of Japan will meet the necessary costs for organising the Workshop to be held in Tokyo in January/February 2015, which includes the cost for the meeting venue and other miscellaneous costs other than the travel/stay costs for the participants.
Travel/stay costs for the participants at the Workshop are expected to be met by IWC.
The Committee agrees to submit a budget request for the 2014/15 intersessional period to cover the travel and stay of the expert panel (see Item 26).
This workshop is scheduled for 7-10 February 2015 in Tokyo, Japan, with the last day reserved for the Expert Review Panel to focus on its report to the International Whaling Commission.
Whether Japan will further revise its lethal research in the Southern Ocean if the report contains methodology concerns or it decides to ignore the review panel finding, holding to its new program and to a larger area in which to conduct its announced reduced annual kill, is yet unknown.
Vessels from the Japanese whaling fleet are now heading for the Southern Ocean to conduct a survey – presumably in preparation for next year’s whale hunt.