Japan’s decision to leave IWC is out of step with global efforts to rebuild the health of the oceans
This decision to put commercial whaling interests above internationally agreed science-based precautionary management actions and global conservation efforts comes at a time when the planet’s whale species are under unprecedented threats. Incidental entanglement in fishing gears, ingestion of plastic waste, the impacts of shipping including noise, oil spills, chemical pollution, and the impacts of climate change are all threatening the already fragile health of our oceans.
In spite of the International Whaling Commission’s efforts to regulate commercial whaling activities since the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) in 1946, whale populations continued to decline due to lack of compliance from the whaling nations; leading to catastrophic declines of certain whale populations.
Japan’s decision to withdraw from the IWC in 2019 is a slap in the face of the IWC’s 90-member states and should be received with international outrage. It sets an extremely dangerous precedent not only for other whaling nations to follow in its footsteps, but also for all other international agreements. What legacy will we bequeath the next generation if anytime a government disagrees with an internationally and democratically agreed decision to protect the world’s shared natural resources, with impunity they simply choose to breach the agreement and engage in the unsustainable activities anyway?