Friday, 4 November 2016

Australia and New Zealand successful in gaining IWC review of process by which 'scientific' slaughter of Antarctic whales is allowed to continue

On 28 October 2016 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) considered a draft resolution by Australia and New Zealand seeking to improve the review process for whaling under special permit. 

Special permits being the mechanism used by the Government of Japan to continue its annual slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean for the commercial benefit of a domestic niche market for whale meat for human consumption and for the Japanese pet food industry.

The resolution was passed.

IWC, 27 October 2016:

Governments on all sides of the scientific whaling debate highlighted the positive and constructive spirit of negotiations on a Resolution on Improving the Review Process for Whaling under Special Permit, but ultimately agreement could not be reached and the Resolution was put to a vote which adopted the Resolution with 34 yes votes, 17 no votes and 10 abstentions.  Amongst the measures included is the establishment of a new Commission Working Group to consider Scientific Committee reports and recommendations on this issue.

“Now, therefore the Commission:
1. Agrees to establish a Standing Working Group (“the Working Group”), in accordance with Article III.4 of the Convention. The Working Group will be appointed by the Bureau on the basis of nominations from Contracting Governments, to consider the reports and recommendations of the Scientific Committee with respect to all new, ongoing and completed special permit programmes and report to the Commission, in accordance with the Terms of Reference contained in the Appendix to this resolution.
2. Agrees that the discussion of special permit programmes be afforded sufficient priority and time allocation to allow for adequate review at both Commission and Scientific Committee meetings;
3. In order to facilitate the Commission’s timely and meaningful consideration of new, ongoing and completed special permit programmes, Requests Contracting Governments to submit proposals for new special permit programmes, and review documentation for ongoing and completed special permit programmes, at least six months before the Scientific Committee meeting held in the same year as a Commission meeting (see the indicative process set out in paragraph 9 of the Appendix);
4. In order to facilitate the Scientific Committee’s review of new, ongoing and completed special permit programmes, Requests Contracting Governments to provide members of the Scientific Committee unrestricted and continuing access to all data collected under special permit programmes that are:
a. used in the development of new programmes; or
b. included in ongoing or final programme reviews. Data made available in accordance with this request shall be used only for the purposes of evaluation and review of special permit programmes.
5. Instructs the Scientific Committee to inform the Commission as to whether Scientific Committee members had unrestricted and continuing access to data collected under special permit programmes, and analyses thereof;
6. Further instructs the Scientific Committee to provide its evaluation of proposals to the Commission in the same year as a Commission meeting (regardless of when the Scientific Committee’s review commences), and to make necessary revisions to its procedures for reviewing special permit programmes, including Annex P, to incorporate the expectation that Contracting Governments will schedule any special permit programmes in accordance with the process outlined in paragraph 3;
7. Agrees that the Commission will consider the reports of the Scientific Committee and of the Working Group at the first Commission meeting after the Scientific Committee has reviewed the new, ongoing or completed special permit programme in question and, taking into account those reports, the Commission will: a. form its own view regarding:
i. whether the review process has adequately followed the instructions set out in Annex P and any additional instructions provided by the Commission ;
ii. whether the elements of a proposed special permit programme, or the results reported from an ongoing or completed special permit programme, have been adequately demonstrated to meet the criteria set out in the relevant terms of reference in Annex P, and any additional criteria elaborated by the Commission; and
iii. any other relevant aspect of the new, ongoing or completed special permit programme and review in question;
b. provide any recommendations or advice it considers appropriate to the responsible Contracting Government regarding any aspect of the new, ongoing or completed special permit programme, including affirming or modifying any proposed recommendations or advice proposed by the Scientific Committee.
c. provide any direction it considers appropriate to the Scientific Committee.
d. make public a summary of the Commission’s conclusions in this respect, by way of publication on the Commission’s website, within 7 days of the end of the Commission meeting.”


The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March 2016: 

Tokyo: Japan's whaling fleet returned on Thursday from its Antarctic hunt after a year-long suspension with a take of more than 300 whales, including pregnant females.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean should stop, prompting it to call off its hunt that season, although it said at the time it intended to resume later.
Japan then amended its plan for the next season to cut the number of minke whales it aimed to take by two-thirds from previous hunts.
Its fleet set out in December despite international criticism, including from important ally the United States.
The final ships of the four-vessel whaling fleet returned to Shimonoseki in southwestern Japan on Thursday, having achieved the goal of 333 minke whales, the Fisheries Agency said.
Of these, 103 were males and 230 were females, with 90 per cent of the mature females pregnant.

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