Feb 22, 2005

Whaling – An unjustifiable slaughter


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 22 February 2005

New scientific research confirms that contrary to the view repeatedly put forward by the Japanese Government to justify their whaling program, minke whales have not experienced an unprecedented surge in numbers – nor are they a threat to the survival of other sea life.

Late last year Dr Masayuki Komatsu from Japan’s Fisheries Agency claimed:

“…there are too many whales and still increasing, that’s why I called [minke whales] something like a cockroach itself, in terms of a huge number.” (Source: ABC’s PM Program, 20 October 2004)

Japan argues minke whales used to be rare and only recently has its population exploded, estimating that numbers have increased from around 100,000 to approximately 800,000 in the last century. This, they claim, is hindering the recovery of other Antarctic whale species and therefore continued whaling is necessary to prevent the “threat” posed by too many minkes.

However, an analysis of the genetics of whale meat being sold legally in Japanese shops has exposed the deceitful nature of this claim and is further proof Japan’s “scientific” whaling program is nothing more than a thinly disguised commercial meat market.

Since the international moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1985, Japan has slaughtered more than 8,000 whales in the name of “science”. They now want the ban lifted altogether.

The research was conducted by American scientists and presented over the weekend to a major science conference in Washington DC – the annual meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science.

According to a member of the research team, Dr Steve Palumbi of Stanford University:

"There is really no evidence at all that minke whales right now are so abundant that they are hindering the recovery of great whales in Antarctica. …their present population size is not a reflection of a recent, huge increase. They are not weeds that need to be pulled." (Source: BBC Online, 20/02/05)

I acknowledge the Howard Government supports a complete cessation of whaling by all nations. However, this new research heightens the pressure on them to achieve a significant breakthrough at the forthcoming annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission, due to be held in South Korea between 20th and 24th of June.

In over 8 years the Howard Government has failed to build the necessary coalition amongst the Commission’s 59 member nations to have the slaughter of whales stopped.

For the sake of these great ocean wanderers we cannot afford a repeat of this diplomatic failure.