IFAW: Japan urged to stop squandering cash on dying whaling industry


(London – 26 September, 2012) – The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is urging Japan to abandon its Antarctic whaling programme and stop wasting public money on a cruel and outdated industry.

The Japanese whaling fleet’s ageing factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, needs repairs estimated to run into millions of dollars in order to make the voyage to the Southern Ocean to hunt minke whales later this year.

According to media reports, a Japanese government committee will meet later this week to decide whether to allocate the taxpayer funds needed to meet the cost of the extensive refit to the 25-year-old vessel.

It was initially rumoured that the upcoming whaling season was in doubt due to the high costs and length of time needed for repairs, but the Fisheries Agency of Japan is keen for an immediate refit to prolong the life of the Nisshin Maru.

Ahead of a decision on funding, Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “The good people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat. Why would their government pour more yen into whaling? This is a cruel and outmoded industry drowning in a sea of red ink. Sending an ageing factory ship on yet another taxpayer-funded foray to slaughter whales in an international sanctuary is a foolish idea that can please only fisheries bureaucrats. It is morally and fiscally bankrupt.

“This cruel, wasteful and completely unnecessary industry is dying on its feet with falling appetite for whale meat versus rising costs. With the Japanese taxpayer footing huge costs last year and even tsunami recovery funds being diverted to whaling, it is time for the Japanese government to instead invest in projects that are of real benefit to the Japanese people. Whaling is a bad policy for Japanese people as well as for whales.”

Japan hunts whales in the seas surrounding Antarctica for so-called ‘science’ but in reality this is commercial whaling under another name. Much of the meat is stockpiled in freezers.

The seas surrounding Antarctica were declared a whale sanctuary by the International Whaling Commission in 1994. Twenty-three nations voted in favour of the proposal and only Japan voted against.

IFAW opposes whaling because of the unacceptable cruelty involved; there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. Footage of Japanese whaling analysed by IFAW scientists has shown whales can take more than half an hour to die.

While whaling is uneconomic, whale watching offers a humane and profitable alternative to the cruelty of whaling, generating around US$2.1 billion annually for coastal communities.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling in the IFAW UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717, email csterling@ifaw.org or call Patrick Ramage on 001 508 744 2071.

Alternatively visit www.ifaw.org

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter-