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22 June 2015 - Australian Government must do more to stop Japan returning to whaling in 2015       

Australian  Government must do more to stop Japan returning to whaling in 2015

22 June 2015

Humane Society International (HSI) today calls upon the Australian Government to intensify its diplomatic efforts to persuade the Japanese Government to abandon its lethal whaling program. New indications from Tokyo show that Japan intends to return to whaling this year, despite the weight of international law and opinion being against Japan’s whaling program.

HSI also asks the Government to take enforcement action should Japan take whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary on its return to whaling, as HSI has done in the past through the Courts. This requires not only rigorous surveillance of whaling activities by boat and by air, and enforcement where whalers breach Australian law, but also the political will to continue Australia’s role as an international leader in whale protection.    

The International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Scientific Committee released its report last week and concluded that “the need for lethal sampling has not been demonstrated…. We do not consider that there is any scientific justification for collecting lethal samples until it is demonstrated that the information collected is necessary and reasonable in accordance with the guidelines…”(Annexe Q to Report of the Scientific Committee). 

HSI Director Michael Kennedy said that “Despite the Scientific Committee concluding that Japan’s new proposal to take 333 minke whales per year until 2027 did not justify lethal scientific sampling, Japan is still set on a return to whaling. This is also despite the International Court of Justice ruling last year that Japan’s whaling program is not scientific.”         

Australia has been a world-leader in whale conservation and has taken decisive and vocal action in the past, using International Law where possible. We hope this trend continues. We need strong diplomatic representations to be made to the Japanese Government and for our Government to be prepared to undertake effective surveillance of the Australian Whale Sanctuary with a view to the enforcement of Australian law against whalers that kill whales there,Mr Kennedy continued.

In the past, Humane Society International has taken legal action to enforce Australian law against whaling companies. In 2008, HSI was successful in applying to the Federal Court for a declaration that Japanese whaling company Kyodo breached the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) by whaling in the Sanctuary. HSI was granted an injunction which was intended to restrain Kyodo from further breaches of the EPBC Act.

It should not be left up to environmental groups or individual citizens to enforce Australian environmental laws, however this is a valuable option to have should there be further breaches of Australian law by Japanese whalers and lack of Government action against these whaling companies. We urge the Australian Government put pressure on Japan now to prevent a 2015 whaling season going ahead. The Government would have the support of Australians in this move,Mr Kennedy concluded.   


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