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Japan defies Australia over whaling prior to Japan PM visit

Japan defies Australia over whaling prior to Japan PM visit

Humane Society International has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to express Australia’s strong opposition to whaling when he meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this week. Yesterday, the Government of Japan announced that it has issued new permits for its whale fleet to hunt whales in Antarctica and the fleet is now on its way to its hunting grounds.

The recent International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting saw Australia lead the opposition against Japan’s proposals for commercial whaling.

Japan hunts whales in Antarctica and sells the meat commercially. Their hunt is conducted:

– In defiance of the global moratorium on commercial whaling decided by the IWC in 1982 and the recent rejection of Japan’s proposal to undermine it;

– In the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary declared by the IWC in 1994;

– In the Australian Whale Sanctuary declared under Australian law in 1999;

– In the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area;

– In contempt of the Australian Federal Court;

– Despite a million dollar fine from the Australian Federal Court for being in contempt of court;

– Despite a ruling from the International Court of Justice in The Hague that its scientific whaling program in Antarctica was unlawful;

– Despite repeated resolutions of concern passed at the IWC;

– Despite the IWC expressing a view in September that Japan has failed to demonstrate a scientific need to kill whales.

“Humane Society International says Prime Minister Morrison should ask his counterpart to recall his country’s whale fleet to port and to retire its harpoons for good,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for the Australian Office of Humane Society International.

“If Japan proceeds with this latest hunt, the Australian public will expect our Government to investigate all possible legal options to restrain Japan’s whaling once and for all,” Ms Beynon continued.

Humane Society International joined other conservation organisations in a letter to Prime Minister Morrison to ask that he convey Australia’s strong opposition to Japan’s whaling when he meets with Prime Minister Abe later this week.

Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan

Humane Society International statement on the fatality at Cid Harbour

Humane Society International statement on the fatality at Cid Harbour

Humane Society International is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life at Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays.

“This tragedy could have been avoided with more effective measures to protect swimmers. Locals have long known tiger sharks frequent Cid Harbour, and people need to be told not to swim there,” said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner at Humane Society International.

“The knee jerk culling of sharks at Cid Harbour was clearly not the answer. Lethal drumlines provide a false sense of security and are tremendously unpopular with the public. Permanent and prominent signage and education to prevent swimming at Cid Harbour would have been much more effective,” continued Mr Chlebeck.

Humane Society International has a court case challenging the 173 drumlines deployed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a hearing due at the end of January.

Humane Society International calls on the Queensland Government to end their lethal culling program and immediately invest in more effective measures to protect swimmers.

Humane Society International expresses our sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the man who has lost his life.

Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan

Humane Society International expresses shock as China lifts 25-year-old ban on tiger bone and rhino horn trade

Humane Society International expresses shock as China lifts 25-year-old ban on tiger bone and rhino horn trade

Wildlife campaigners at Humane Society International have expressed their dismay at the news that China is reversing its 25-year old ban on domestic trade in tiger bone and rhino horn. The issuance of a new regulation, announced today by the Chinese State Council, means that it will once again be legal to sell tiger bone and rhino horn domestically.

For years, China has been criticised internationally for tolerating tiger farms which breed thousands of captive tigers so that their bones and other body parts can be sold for tiger bone wine and medicinal products. Such trade perpetuates cruelty while fueling demand for body parts from illegally poached wild tigers, of which there may be as few as 3,500. Anti-smuggling investigations and market research have shown a persistent demand for rhino horns in China. The new regulations would allow the use of tiger bone and rhino horn from captive or farmed animals, but the trade it engenders will inevitably increase pressure on animals in the wild.

Iris Ho, senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International says, “With this announcement, the Chinese government has signed a death warrant for imperilled rhinos and tigers in the wild who already face myriad threats to their survival. It sets up what is essentially a laundering scheme for illegal tiger bone and rhino horn to enter the marketplace and further perpetuate the demand for these animal parts. This is a devastating blow to our ongoing work to save species from cruel exploitation and extinction, and we implore the Chinese government to reconsider.”

In 2010 the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies publicly urged its members against using such products. The announcement is at odds with China’s move last year to close its domestic elephant ivory market.

Images: Thiang | Michael Simmons

Albatross once again the losers at international tuna meeting

Albatross once again the losers at international tuna meeting

Humane Society International is today speaking out in condemnation of the lack of conservation measures for albatross agreed at the recent meeting of Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)*. The outcomes of last week’s meeting were only made public today.

Humane Society International attended the meeting highlighting the urgent need to protect albatross and petrels from longline hooks in southern bluefin tuna fisheries, and hoped a resolution put forward at the meeting by the European Union and New Zealand would help correct a longstanding problem within CCSBT and provide a long overdue reprieve for these imperilled seabirds. Humane Society International estimates 15,000 albatross and petrels are hooked and drown on baited longlines every year. CCSBT could not reach an agreement to take responsibility for implementing proven measures to prevent albatross deaths, like weighting lines so that they sink fast out of the reach of seabirds and setting lines at night when less birds are foraging.

“The outcomes of this meeting held much promise and we are extremely disappointed that the binding measure agreed will not enable the CCSBT compliance committee to monitor and enforce compliance with seabird bycatch mitigation measures,” said Alexia Wellbelove, Humane Society International’s Senior Program Manager. “The resolution agreed only requires toothless reporting with no consequences for non-compliance. Humane Society International fears this will frustrate attempts to drive real change in tuna fisheries to reduce interactions with Ecologically Related Species like the albatross.”

“CCSBT is the tuna RFMO with the highest overlap with threatened seabirds, and so has the greatest responsibility to take strong effective action to reduce seabird mortality,” continued Ms Wellbelove. “Today we’ve not moved any closer to making that a reality, in fact it could be argued we’ve moved backwards. With some albatross populations likely to be functionally extinct within ten years if current rates of decline are not turned around, we really need to be taking every opportunity we have, not condemning these iconic seabirds to possible extinction.”

Image: JJ Harrison | Wikimedia Commons

Unilever backs Humane Society International global effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics

Unilever backs Humane Society International global effort to ban animal testing for cosmetics

Personal care giant Unilever has announced its support for the #BeCrueltyFree campaign led by Humane Society International aimed at banning animal testing for cosmetics across the globe within five years, including an ambitious new collaboration aimed at accelerating regulatory acceptance of modern, non-animal approaches to consumer safety assessment. Unilever, known for such popular brands as Dove, Degree and TRESemme, is the second largest beauty company globally, and the first among the sector’s “top 10” to actively support legislative reform to prohibit animal testing for cosmetics. The organisations hope that this new collaboration will accelerate policy change in the cosmetics sector globally, toward a shared goal of animal testing bans in 50 major beauty markets worldwide by 2023.

HSI Vice President for Research & Toxicology, Troy Seidle, said: “Every company will tell you it supports alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics, but Unilever is the first of the beauty giants to throw its weight behind banning it altogether. With hundreds of thousands of animals still used in toxicity tests for cosmetic purposes each year around the world, Unilever is to be commended for standing with Humane Society International to end this cruelty once and for all. We urge other large beauty brands to follow this example and join us on the right side of history.”

The new collaboration with HSI will include:

  • Unilever’s support for strengthening Australia’s proposed cosmetic animal testing data ban within the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 and associated rules to ensure that the ban fully prohibits the use of new animal test data for cosmetics sold in Australia, consistent with the precedent established in the European Union.
  • Launch of a multi-year, open collaboration to develop capability across companies and regulatory authorities so safety decisions for cosmetics are based exclusively on non-animal approaches
  • Investment in the training of our future safety scientists in non-animal “next generation” risk assessments to build capability for the long-term.

Unilever Chief Research and Development Officer, David Blanchard, added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Humane Society International to bring the era of cosmetic animal testing to an end, and would welcome other companies, regulators, and other interested stakeholders that want to join this important initiative.”

Across the globe, 37 countries so far have already enacted legislation to fully or partially ban animal testing for cosmetics. HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign played a key role in securing enactment of the final phase of the European Union ban in 2013, and in subsequent victories in India, Taiwan, Guatemala, New Zealand, South Korea, and seven states in Brazil. Today HSI and our partners are driving forward 10 more legislative efforts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam, and in the United States via the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund.

HSI predicts that the next country in line to ban cosmetics cruelty could be Australia, with the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 under negotiation in the federal Senate, including proposed amendments to the ban. A sticking point in the bill and associated regulatory rules is that the current wording of the ban would mean that cosmetic ingredients used in other products would not be covered, leaving consumers exposed to buying newly animal tested cosmetics even after the ban comes into force. HSI is currently negotiating with Senators and Government to ensure unnecessary ban exemptions are removed so that new animal-test data is banned for any and all cosmetic uses of chemical introductions, not just some.

Australians wishing to support strengthening the proposed ban are urged to contact the Government.

HSI Campaign Manager for #BeCrueltyFree Australia, Hannah Stuart, said: It’s time for Australia to join the growing global trend towards eliminating new animal testing of cosmetic products and their ingredients. With Unilever’s support, we look forward to celebrating a robust ban that ensures Australia is the next country to truly say NO to cruel and outdated cosmetics animal testing.”


  • Animal tests carried out in the cosmetics sector include eye and skin irritation experiments, in which a cosmetic product or ingredient is rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits; skin allergy tests using guinea pigs or mice; and oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness, or the amount of a chemical that causes death. These tests inflict considerable pain and distress, which can include blindness, swollen eyes, sore bleeding skin, internal bleeding and organ damage, convulsions and death. Pain relief is seldom if ever provided, and at the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation.
  • Australia’s Industrial Chemical Bill 2017 and draft Industrial Chemicals (General) Rules 2018 would introduce a ban on the use of new data on cosmetic ingredients derived from animal tests, effectively banning animal testing on new chemicals being introduced to Australia for use in cosmetics sold in Australia. However, as currently worded the proposed ban will only apply to those chemicals that are introduced solely for a cosmetic end-use. Cosmetic chemicals that are also introduced for other purposes, as is very common, will not be caught by the ban. This will open a loophole for newly animal tested chemicals to enter the Australian cosmetic market which we hope will be closed through necessary strengthening of the proposed ban measures.
  • A poll by Nexus Research on behalf of Humane Research Australia found an overwhelming majority of Australians (85 percent) oppose using animals in the development of cosmetics with a large majority (81 percent) supporting a national ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals – that’s four out of five Australians who support a national ban. Similarly, an opinion poll by Roy Morgan Research showed that ‘Not Tested on Animals’ was one of the top three features looked for by Australian female consumers when buying cosmetics.


Proposed QLD shark gag law will make it illegal to document horrors of culling program

Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society were on the scene today as a baby humpback whale was caught in a shark net on the Gold Coast. Our staff alerted the rescue and response team to the trapped whale, and it has now been freed.

However, this latest horror of the Queensland Shark Control program comes as the Queensland Government tries to implement legislation to criminalise close proximity to shark control equipment, making photography of lethal drumlines and shark nets almost impossible.

Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan

Images and video for media can be downloaded here

As part of a suite of amendments to the QLD Fisheries Act, the Government is proposing implementing exclusion zones of 20 metres around shark control equipment, making it almost impossible to independently capture photography and videos of sharks and other marine animals caught on lethal drumlines and in shark nets throughout the state.

“Seeing these images of a baby humpback whale entangled in a shark net should be enough to get the Queensland Government to remove the nets. How many more animals must suffer in these nets before the Government moves to more effective, non-lethal measures?

“The Queensland Government’s plan to put exclusion zones around shark control equipment is simply a measure to keep the slaughter of sharks and marine wildlife hidden from public view. This is not about public safety, rather it’s a blatant tactic to reduce public scrutiny by a government under increased public pressure to end its archaic culling program. The Queensland Government has 368 lethal drumlines and 30 shark nets throughout the state, and is now justifying these no-go zones by saying this equipment is a hazard to the public. If that’s the case, they should remove these culling devices as a matter of urgency and instead implement non-lethal technologies to protect ocean users,” said Lawrence Chlebeck, Marine Campaigner for Humane Society International.

Image HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan

“The public has a right to see the true cost of the Queensland Government’s shark culling program. Our footage of a baby humpback whale trapped in the nets would have been illegal to collect if the proposed exclusion zone around shark control equipment was in effect. Recent media polls have found that the Queensland shark control program is deeply unpopular with the public, but the Government continues to catch and kill sharks throughout the state. We’re asking the Government to listen to the community and invest in non-lethal alternatives, a win-win for endangered marine wildlife and for bather protection,” said Dr. Leonardo Guida, Senior Shark Campaigner at Australian Marine Conservation Society.

HSI and AMCS also captured images of an endangered baby scalloped hammerhead shark tangled and drowned in a shark net off the Gold Coast on 4th October, 2018.

In August, HSI and AMCS released footage of two scalloped hammerhead sharks caught on lethal drumlines at Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

In response to two shark bites at Whitsunday Island in the Great Barrier Reef last month, the Queensland Government set three lethal drumlines and killed six sharks in the area. These drumlines were removed following massive backlash locally and nationwide. Under its shark control program, at least 64 sharks have been shot dead by the Queensland Government since July last year.

Humane Society International has an ongoing legal challenge against the Queensland Government’s shark culling program in the Great Barrier Reef. The case will be heard at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane from January 30, 2019.

Image HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan
CITES censures Japan for trading in whale products from an endangered species

CITES censures Japan for trading in whale products from an endangered species

(Sochi, Russia) – Conservation organisations today welcomed the news that Japan’s import and sale of sei whale products from its controversial “scientific” whaling programme in the North Pacific has been censured as illegal by the global body entrusted with protecting endangered species from trade.

Sei whales are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which means that international commercial trade in their products is banned. As Japan mostly hunts sei whales on the high seas beyond its national jurisdiction, under CITES rules, bringing these products into Japan is considered international trade (so-called “Introduction from the Sea”). Currently, Japan hunts as many as 134 sei whales each year (the third biggest animal on the planet) under its “scientific” whaling programme in the North Pacific.

During its 70th annual meeting in Sochi, Russia, members of the CITES Standing Committee nearly unanimously concluded that Japan was acting in violation of the convention by landing thousands of tonnes of sei whale meat for primarily commercial purposes. The Committee then agreed that Japan will take immediate remedial action to address this compliance issue and report on its specific actions by 1 February 2019 for consideration at the next Committee meeting in May 2019. At that time, if the Committee does not accept Japan’s remediation plan it could recommend that the other 182 governments impose trade sanctions on Japan.

“This is a significant win for sei whales and another blow by the international community against Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” said Matthew Collis, Director of International Policy for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “For 16 years Japan has been importing and selling sei whale products; this is a persistent and intentional violation of CITES rules and must stop.”

Sue Fisher, consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute, congratulated the Standing Committee on its decision. “Anything less than a firm rebuke of Japan’s longstanding and large-scale commercial exploitation of sei whales under the guise of research would have had devastating consequences – not just for the protection of endangered species from commercial interests but also for the credibility of CITES.”

For years, Japan has presented its whaling as a “scientific” endeavour, but that point is irrelevant to CITES, which regulates the end use of products after they are brought to Japan. The vast majority of each sei whale is packaged purely for commercial use, amounting to thousands of tonnes of sei whale meat from more than 1,500 sei whales in the last 16 years. However, Japan has been using CITES certificates – which should only cover the importation of limited scientific samples – to import sei whale meat and parts for the express purpose of commercial sale throughout Japan.

“There was no question about Japan’s non-compliance. With this decision, the CITES Standing Committee put the integrity of the convention above politics,” said Erica Lyman, Professor of Clinical Law at the International Environmental Law Project, Lewis & Clark Law School.

“This decision by the CITES members demonstrates that international conservation efforts can work. Japan has for years engaged in heavy trade of an endangered species. Japan is now required to achieve permanent compliance with the treaty by stopping importing sei whale meat and blubber,” said Astrid Fuchs, Programme Lead at WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation).

“The issue of Japan’s use of meat from sei whale taken on the high seas is important, both for the whales themselves and also the integrity of CITES. Japan is a significant importer and exporter of wildlife products and it is now clear that Japan has been on the wrong side of the rules in this matter. Japan will now have to follow the instructions it has been given or face potentially serious consequences,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at Humane Society International in Australia.

CITES’ censure of the commercial nature of Japan’s North Pacific sei whale hunt follows a 2014 judgment by the International Court of Justice, which found that Japan’s Antarctic whaling was not for scientific purposes. Last month, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) determined that Japan’s lethal whaling was not scientifically justified and voted to defeat the country’s attempts to resume commercial whaling.

Image: Christin Khan, NOAA / NEFSC

BREAKING: Lethal drumlines have been removed from Whitsundays, but 173 remain in the Great Barrier Reef

BREAKING: Lethal drumlines have been removed from Whitsundays, but 173 remain in the Great Barrier Reef

A shark is shot dead by the QLD Government every six days in the Great Barrier Reef

27th September 2018Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society welcome the removal of three drumlines from Cid Bay at Whitsunday Island today after a massive backlash against the Queensland Government’s shark culling program. Our staff at Cid Harbour this morning witnessed the drumlines being removed.

Images for media can be downloaded here

HSI and AMCS are relieved the Queensland Government has listened to the overwhelming public sentiment against shark culling and removed the 3 drumlines at the Whitsundays. We now call on them to remove the other 173 lethal drumlines in operation throughout the wider Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“This was a huge wakeup call to the Queensland Government that the public does not support senseless culling. There have been at least 64 sharks shot dead by the Queensland Government in the Great Barrier Reef since July 2017, that’s one every six days. This culling program did not begin in response to the shark incidents last week, it has been going on since the 1960s. The Queensland Government cannot stay stuck in the past, and needs to urgently consider new technology and non-lethal measures to protect ocean users,” said Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International.

“This is a welcome step that will see no more sharks shot dead at Whitsunday Island, and our thanks goes out to the local Whitsundays community, tourism operators and the wider Australian community who spoke out against the Queensland Government’s knee jerk reaction. But the fight is not over, the Queensland Shark Control Program is killing marine animals every day. We call on the Premier to listen to the public sentiment and stop the culling for good,” said Tooni Mahto, Senior Marine Campaigner at Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Tony Fontes, a Whitsunday local and dive operator said “This is a win for the community and the sharks. I’m proud of the community’s response and support for the removal of the drumlines.”

There have been at least 64 sharks shot dead by the Queensland Government in the Great Barrier Reef since July 2017. An additional 192 animals were found dead on the lethal drumlines in the Reef during the same timeframe, including many that are considered harmless.

Last year Humane Society International launched legal action against the Queensland Government’s shark control program in the Great Barrier Reef and a hearing is set for January 30th 2019.

Pro-whale developments sail through at IWC67

Pro-whale developments sail through at IWC67

Florianópolis, Brazil — On the third day of the 67th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Florianópolis, Brazil, the Commission adopted two resolutions, focused on recognising the crucial role of whales in ecosystems, and mitigating the threat of anthropogenic (human-caused) noise pollution on cetaceans. The delegates also endorsed the IWC’s new bycatch initiative which addresses a massive threat to cetaceans worldwide.

Rebecca Regnery, Senior Director of Wildlife at Humane Society International, says, “The IWC’s Bycatch Mitigation Initiative is of special importance to whale conservation and health. Each year around the world, hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises are accidentally caught and drowned in fishing nets, causing immense suffering and threatening several species with extinction. The IWC is forging a pathway for countries and international partners to find solutions to this global problem.”

The resolution on noise pollution was another triumph, with the IWC agreeing to work with other international bodies to try and address this threat. Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International in Australia says, “Whales use sound to help them navigate the vast oceans, but human-caused noise pollution can interfere with their ability to sense their environment and communicate with each other over vast distances. This acoustic fog can have serious detrimental impacts on cetaceans, and other forms of noise pollution resulting from industrial or military activity can even cause physical harm.”

The third measure also shows how far the IWC has evolved in recent years. While the Commission has traditionally looked at whales as resources to be utilised, science now reveals a different and important role for whales as ‘ecosystem engineers’ – moving deep sea nutrients into the sunlight where their fecal plumes fertilize the waters there and help ecosystem productivity. Today, in a significant change of emphasis, the IWC agreed to focus more on this topic.

Later this week the IWC will vote on a raft of proposals by Japan aimed at smoothing a path for the resumption of commercial whaling. Wellbelove reflects, “Seeing these cetacean conservation measures pass at the IWC is a bittersweet experience. It is thrilling to see the IWC play such a globally important role in protecting cetaceans in their marine environment and recognising the vital and unique role these ocean giants play in keeping our seas healthy. Yet all the while there are moves at the IWC by Japan and others to kill these very same whales for profit.”

Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan

Bitter disappointment as creation of vital safe haven sanctuary for whales in South Atlantic voted down at IWC by pro-whaling nations

Bitter disappointment as creation of vital safe haven sanctuary for whales in South Atlantic voted down at IWC by pro-whaling nations

Florianópolis, Brazil — Humane Society International has reacted with bitter disappointment as the creation of a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic is voted down by pro-whaling nations such as Japan, Korea, Norway and Russia. The vote, which required a three-quarter majority to pass, resulted in a tally of 39 Yes, 25 No, 3 Abstentions, and 2 not present.

Grettel Delgadillo, deputy director of Humane Society International-Latin America, says, “It’s a bitter disappointment that – in Brazil of all places – the proposal for a South Atlantic whale sanctuary has once again been defeated by Japan and its allies. Brazil and the other champions of the sanctuary have made a strong and principled case, on ecological and scientific grounds. This first vote at IWC67 shows how determined the whaling nations are to oppose sensible conservation measures and to obstruct the IWC’s evolution as a full-fledged conservation body. The rejection of the South Atlantic sanctuary is a genuine sign of bad faith and continuing intrigue by the Japan bloc, and it bodes very poorly for the crucial votes that will come later this week.

The nations of the region want to create – and they have every right to create – a safe haven for whales under continued threats from commercial whaling, death from entanglement in fishing gear, marine pollution, and injury from ship strikes. The proposed South Atlantic whale sanctuary encompasses a vital breeding and calving area that would protect whales and their habitats. It’s a common sense proposal directly informed by the fact that cetacean species and populations are still recovering from decades of merciless commercial whaling in the twentieth century.”

Image: HSI/AMCS/N McLachlan