Japan's Whaling Questioned by World's Whale Experts


The world's premiere whale experts - scientists on the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee - just concluded a two-week meeting in San Diego. Last on the agenda: Japan's whaling.

Japan's so-called "scientific research whaling" has long been condemned as a guise for commercial whaling. Despite killing over 10,000 whales for "research" purposes since the IWC's ban on commercial whaling took effect in 1986, Japan has not published even a handful of meaningful studies. Instead, the meat slaughtered in the name of science ends up for sale - or languishing in freezers due to lack of consumer demand.

The results of the IWC Scientific Committee closed-door meetings won't be made public until later this month, but hopefully the scientists will find that Japan's whaling is not for science.

The precedent has already been set by a landmark UN court decision that found Japan's whaling was illegal.

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan's whaling was NOT "for purposes of scientific research" and therefore in violation of international law and the IWC's ban on commercial whaling.

Japan originally agreed to abide by the judgment - and even halted its 2014-2015 hunt. But in a disappointing reversal, it announced a new plan for "research" whaling to begin this year.

An IWC Expert Panel reviewed Japan's revised program last February. Not surprisingly, it found that Japan failed to offer enough scientific evidence to justify killing whales.

The question is now before the full IWC Scientific Committee.

Declaring that Japan's lethal whaling program does not meet the needs of science is a win-win decision: a win for the whales and a win for legitimate science. Let's hope the Scientific Committee makes the right decision.

(Photo credit: Tom Benson, Creative Commons)