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Japan Urged To Abandon Outdated Whaling Policy; 'The Industry Is Out Of Gas And Crashing'

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LONDON, England -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is disappointed but not surprised that Japan's whaling fleet is reportedly planning a return to Antarctica later this year to kill more whales for its dying market.

Following Japanese media reports today that whaling will continue with around US$27 million in additional government security budget to protect the fleet, Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW's Global Whale Program, said: 'I'd bet this is whaling's last gasp. The industry is out of gas and crashing. This move is more about pride than profit, more about politics and prerogatives of the Japanese Fisheries Agency than it is about public support.'

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; 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. Whaling is also uneconomic, whereas whale watching offers a humane and profitable alternative to the cruelty of whaling, generating around US$2.1 billion annually for coastal communities.

Ramage added: 'If true as reported, this decision doesn't change the basic facts: whaling is an economic loser that makes no more sense for post-tsunami Japan than it did before the tragedy. The government bureaucrats are throwing good money after bad to pursue whales in a sanctuary.

'Meanwhile, the good people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat and coastal communities around the country are pursuing profits from whale watching. The future lies with them. That Japan will quit the Southern Ocean seems certain. But Tokyo will determine when and how they will retreat, not Canberra, Auckland or Washington.'

IFAW urges Japan to reconsider its decision to continue whaling in the pristine Southern Ocean Sanctuary, in defiance of global opposition and several international laws.

Despite the worldwide ban on commercial whaling, Japan hunts whales in Antarctica under the loophole of 'scientific whaling,' which in reality is commercial whaling by another name. There is no science in scientific whaling; in fact non-lethal research is providing us with all the data we need to unlock the secrets of these incredible mammals.

Last November, the Japanese fleet headed for Antarctica to train its harpoons on around 1,000 whales. However, under pressure from many fronts, Japan called an early halt to its whaling season and headed back to port having killed less than half of its self-allocated kill quota.

The Australian government has presented a case against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean to the International Court of Justice. IFAW calls on all governments to take the strongest diplomatic action possible against Japan and demand that it ends its whaling programme now.

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