U.S. Comments on Japanese Decision to Restart Lethal Research Whaling in Southern Ocean

Russell F. Smith III, is the NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries, and U.S. commissioner to the International Whaling Commission.  He published the following statement:

“The United States is disappointed with the Japanese government’s decision to restart lethal research whaling in the Southern Ocean early next year. We continue to believe that it is unnecessary to kill whales in order to conduct scientific research necessary to promote the management objectives of the IWC. We note that while Japan submitted its research proposal to the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC’s) Expert Panel and Scientific Committee (SC) for review and comment, Japan has decided to proceed with the hunt without addressing several significant issues raised in their reports. One of the key issues raised during both the Expert Panel and SC meetings was that Japan had not justified the need for lethal whaling to carry out its research. Unfortunately, rather than giving itself time to modify its research program to fully address these issues, Japan has decided to restart its program now.

We are also concerned that Japan is disregarding the 2014 IWC resolution calling on parties to submit to the IWC for review and comment any new proposals for lethal research whaling before such research is permitted to begin. This resolution was, in part, a response to the 2014 decision of the International Court of Justice that an earlier version of Japan’s Southern Ocean research whaling program violated the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Allowing Commission review of such proposals would help to ensure that any future lethal research whaling gives due regard to the guidance found in the opinion on ensuring that such whaling is consistent with the obligations under the Convention.

The United States will continue to engage with the Government of Japan in an effort to address U.S. concerns with Japan’s new lethal research program. We believe all of Japan’s primary research objectives can be met through non-lethal activities and continue to oppose their scientific whaling programs. The United States also continues to oppose any commercial hunting or killing of whales.”

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