Celebrities such as Steve Backshall, Stephen Fry, Jan Goodall and Ricky Gervais have all voiced their concerns on the issue of whaling, calling for an ‘International Whaling Intervention’ in Japan just two days before the country plans to restart its commercial whaling programs. The hope is for discussions on the issue to be put on the table at the 2019 G20 summit currently taking place in Osaka. Prior to this year’s summit, each member of the G20 was sent a letter co-signed by the star names and more than 100 conservation groups and charities stating a desire for world leaders to not only object to Japan’s plans, but also to call for an end to all commercially whaling globally.
Online petitions were started earlier in the year after Japan announced it was planning to leave the International Whaling Commission on 30 June 2019. The Commission bans commercial whaling and controls the development of the whaling industry. It was created in 1986 after many species of whale were driven near to extinction. By leaving the IWC, Japan would be able to commercially hunt whales in its own waters without consequence.
Japan has stated that it will continue whaling for non-scientific reasons. However, in a report conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, entitled Economics of Japanese Whaling, it was concluded that other than for consumption reasons, there was no pressing scientific need for Japan to relaunch its whaling activities. The report stated that ‘[despite Japan’s claims] in 2006 the scientific committee found that the research had failed to achieve any of its stated objectives.’
In the sending of the letter, TV presenter Backshall said: ‘It has taken the combined efforts of every nation on Earth to bring whale conservation to the fore. At the G20 summit, our leaders need to talk to our friends in Japan and let them know that – on this issue – they are deeply at odds with the rest of the world.’
Initially announcing its new plan to kill sei, Bryde’s and minke whales last December, Japan was criticised for its non-environmentally friendly proposals. Author and member of the Born Free Foundation, Dominic Dyer said: ‘During a year in which Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and school children worldwide are challenging our leaders to tackle environmental decline, Japan is sending its whaling ships back to sea within days of the hosting the G20 summit.’ In support of this growing awareness of such issues, Saturday 29 June will see peaceful anti-whaling protests taking place across major cities such as London to draw attention to this issue.
Whales play a key role in marine ecosystems. They supply nourishment to phytoplankton, which are essential to all marine life as they are the foundation of the oceanic food chain. Even when whaling for scientific reasons, the 14,000 whales killed by Japanese whalers since 1988 is far higher than all other countries combined. ‘If we fail to protect whales,’ said Dyer, ‘the future for mankind and our planet will be very bleak indeed.’
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