Positive steps for whales as IWC adopts animal welfare plan

18 September 2014

We're celebrating two exciting developments for whales at the International Whaling Commission's 65th meeting this week

The first piece of good news came last night with the adoption of an ambitious 'animal welfare plan'.

The plan will address major global threats to whales, which include getting trapped and entangled in fishing gear. It was proposed by the UK government with our advice and support.

The second major decision was made today as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) passed a Resolution, tabled by New Zealand, regarding Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling', which has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The proposal sets out steps that the IWC should follow when reviewing future proposals for scientific whaling, including whether the research could be achieved with non-lethal means. 

Celebration was tempered by an announcement from the Japanese government, reiterating its intention to carry on whaling in the Southern Ocean, despite the ruling by the ICJ.

Claire Bass, our Head of Wildlife Campaigns, said: "We commend the UK government for being the IWC's leading voice for whales and we're heartened to see the 60 voting member countries agree that animal welfare is an important issue.

"This timely decision will drive the IWC to champion initiatives which protect whales from the vast array of threats they face in our oceans today, including becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets, one of the ocean's biggest killers.

"We are also delighted that the IWC has passed a further Resolution demanding increased scrutiny in its review of proposals to kill whales in the name of science.

"We thank the New Zealand and Australian governments for ther continued efforts to end the unacceptable suffering caused by Japan's lethal research whaling programme.

"We are extremely disappointed that Japan subsequently announced its plans to continue its whale hunt in the Southern Ocean. We urge the Japanese government to reconsider their intention to resume this cruel and pointless culling."

"This timely decision will drive the IWC to champion initiatives which protect whales from the vast array of threats they face in our oceans today."