A panel of experts from the International Whaling Commission has questioned Japan’s new Antarctic whaling plan, telling it to provide more information to justify the killings.
Their comments were a fresh setback for Japan, whose ‘scientific’ whaling program was judged illegal last year by the International Court of Justice after years of criticism from anti-whaling nations and campaigners.
The panel said it had not been given enough information in the Japanese plan to determine whether it was necessary to kill whales to achieve its objectives, and ‘therefore, the current proposal does not demonstrate the need for lethal sampling to achieve those objectives’.
It said Japan must provide more analysis and arguments.
Tokyo submitted a proposal with an annual target of 333 minke whales for future hunts in the Antarctic, down from some 900 under the previous program.
Japan has said it believes the world’s whale population, especially the minke stock, is sizeable enough to accommodate a return to sustainable whaling.
It argued in its proposal to the IWC that knowledge gained by the research killing would help the IWC calculate sustainable levels for hunting.
The lethal research should also lead to better understanding of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, Japan maintains.
The International Court of Justice – the highest court of the United Nations – ruled in March last year that Tokyo was abusing a scientific exemption set out in the 1986 international moratorium on whaling.
It concluded that it was carrying out a commercial hunt under a veneer of science.
After that ruling, Japan said it would not hunt during this winter’s Antarctic season but has since expressed its intention to resume ‘research whaling’ in 2015-16.