HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL ASKS U.S. GOVERNMENT TO SANCTION JAPAN FOR “SCIENTIFIC” WHALING PROGRAM
In response to Japan’s continued disregard of an international ban on commercial whaling, The Humane Society of the United States and its international arm, Humane Society International, have formally requested the U.S. government to take tough action to help end that country’s egregious whale hunting activities.
In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez earlier this week, The HSUS/HSI pressed the U.S. government to certify Japan under the provisions of the Pelly Amendment for its expanded “scientific” whaling program. Under the Pelly Amendment, the President of the United States is permitted to impose trade sanctions against a country when its nationals are diminishing the effectiveness of an international program to protect marine species.
“Japan’s continued defiance of the ban on commercial whaling runs at odds with international opinion, and it is not a position that helps the image that Japan wants to convey as a progressive and forward-thinking country,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said. “Clearly, the U.S. government must stand firm in its long-standing policy of opposition to lethal research whaling and impose full penalties against Japan, including trade sanctions.”
Under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act, the Secretary of Commerce determines and certifies to the president when nationals of foreign countries are conducting fishing operations that diminish the effectiveness of an international fishery conservation program. Following certification, the president is authorized to direct the Treasury Secretary to prohibit the import of any fish or wildlife products from the certified nation.
Japan has been certified three times under the Pelly Amendment for undermining the International Whaling Commission’s commercial whaling moratorium.
- In 1988 after Japan launched its research program and authorized the lethal take of 300 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean.
- In 1995 for expanding its research program to take an additional 140 minke whales in the Antarctic and to begin a take of 100 minke whales in the North Pacific.
- In 2000 for again expanding its research program in the North Pacific to permit the lethal take of 10 endangered sperm whales and 50 Bryde’s whales. The 2000 certification remains active.
Last year, the Japanese government announced it would double its take of minke whales in the Antarctic, as well as add two more endangered species to its research program – humpback and fin whales. The Antarctic hunt began in November. IWC member countries have passed at least 19 resolutions calling on Japan to end these hunts, some of which are conducted in designated whale sanctuaries.
Japan operates its whale hunts under the guise of scientific research. The government says its program is needed to establish reliable information on whale populations and habitats and that the animals need to be killed to collect the information.
Most scientists do not consider Japan’s research to be valid or necessary. “Most of the research is not needed for management and all of it could be pursued using non-lethal methods,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager in Australia. “Furthermore, they rarely publish the results of this research in peer-reviewed international journals. It’s simply not good enough to pass muster in the international science community.”
The meat from the whales killed for “research” has always been sold in restaurants and grocery stores, but the rapidly expanding take for research is causing a glut on the market. Once considered a luxury item, prices have fallen so much that the government is now selling whale meatballs and burgers on school lunch menus and surplus meat and by-products for pet food.
The United States has maintained a policy against the Japanese hunts, yet no U.S. president has ever imposed sanctions against Japan for its actions.
“It is time for this administration to pay more than just lip service to its opposition of commercial whaling disguised as science,” said Kitty Block, director of treaty law, oceans and wildlife protection for HSI. “They need to take measures that will once and for all deter Japan.”