PERTH, AUSTRALIA - The Australian government said Wednesday it is “extremely disappointed” with Japan’s decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling.
Tokyo announced earlier the same day that it would begin commercial whaling within its own exclusive economic zone in July, after its exit from the IWC is formalized on June 30.
In a joint statement, the Australian foreign and environment ministers described Japan’s decision as “regrettable” but welcomed Tokyo’s announcement that it would stop whaling in the Antarctic Ocean next summer.
“This means that the International Whaling Commission’s vast Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and our own Australian Whale Sanctuary, will finally be true sanctuaries for whales,” the statement read, referring to the ring of ocean that surrounds Antarctica.
Japan has carried out whaling in waters such as the Antarctic Ocean in the name of scientific research, but Australia and other anti-whaling countries have called the hunt a cover for commercial whaling.
Japan halted commercial whaling in 1988, in line with an IWC moratorium adopted in 1982.
Japan will be unable to continue research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean once it formally pulls out of the IWC.
Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said that, given Japan has announced its withdrawal from the IWC, Tokyo should immediately cease its activities in Antarctic waters in the meantime.
Kindleysides said Japan is able to perform its “scientific whaling” under a permit received from the IWC.
“Japan can’t have their cake and eat it too. Japan said they’re turning their back on the IWC. So they must withdraw (from the Antarctic Ocean) immediately,” he said.
The Australian government said it would continue to engage with Japan on whaling.