The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Japan Declares They Will Defy International Court Ruling and Continue Whaling
There has been disappointing and worrying news today. The Government of Japan has announced that it intends to return to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales in 2015. It has also officially announced that it will again send its factory whaling ship to hunt whales in the North Pacific, although it plans to target fewer whales.
The announcement confirms that although no sperm whales will be targeted, Minke, Bryde’s and endangered Sei whales will be targeted in the North Pacific in the coming weeks. This news comes just weeks after this year’s Antarctic whale hunt was cancelled, following a March ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice that it was illegal.
That ruling clearly confirmed that so-called "scientific research" whaling in the Southern Ocean was being done for commercial purposes. The judgment led to an urgent review of whaling plans by the Government of Japan, in the midst of international criticism, as well as some internal political pressure.
There have been other significant developments too: Japanese internet giant Rakuten announced it would stop selling whale meat after a campaign by our colleagues Environmental Investigation Agency, and shipments of endangered fin whale meat en route to Japan have been exposed, blocked, and challenged by Greenpeace in Europe, Africa and Canada.
Recent media reports from Japan suggest there has been a frantic debate inside the Japanese government. The Government of Japan had already stated that the court case, despite focusing solely on Antarctic whaling, would have ramifications for the North Pacific hunt too. Today’s confirmation to carry on whaling comes just days before President Obama’s much-anticipated visit to Japan. It will surely cast a cloud on his conversations with Prime Minister Abe.
It’s a frustrating time for those of us campaigning to end commercial whaling. The decision to go ahead with these hunts will draw more international criticism for the Government of Japan, and surely raise questions inside Japan as to why so much political effort goes into keeping this dying industry alive. This is an industry that should simply be consigned to the past, as stockpiles of unwanted whale meat and rapidly diminishing demand clearly show.
The international focus on continued commercial whaling on the high seas has stymied real international progress on whale conservation. Recent reports have shown that some whale species haven’t yet recovered from commercial whaling in the last century. That’s worrying when we consider all of the other threats, from climate change to ship strikes, that face the world’s whales today.
It’s clear that "scientific" whaling as it has been carried out for many years cannot continue. Now Japan has a chance to stop these whaling expeditions for good. Carrying on as usual might well result in more damaging legal challenges undermining Japan’s international reputation. It’s too bad. The international community reacted so warmly to Japan’s seeming acceptance of the court judgment.
The UN court ruling, coupled with international criticism and plummeting demand for whale meat in Japan should give Japan an opportunity to end its whaling expeditions for good. Commercial whaling is simply not needed in modern Japan. Ending it might not be politically easy, but it’s the right thing to do.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.