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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Humpback Kill Plan is Illegal: IFAW

An international panel of independent legal experts convened in London today issued a detailed report challenging the legal status of Japan’s whaling operations, particularly the taking of endangered sei and humpback whales.

The expert panel also recommends actions to be taken against the Government of Japan for its violations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Today’s report, dubbed the London Report on Illegal Whaling, comes as the Government of Japan prepares to launch its whaling fleet into international waters later this week. Its dramatic findings add to a growing body of legal opinion sharply critical of Japan’s whaling operations.

Since an international ban on commercial whaling was first imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, Japan has argued its ongoing whaling is conducted for “scientific” purposes. However, the London Report finds Japan’s whaling is “for primarily commercial purposes” and “plainly constitutes international trade.”

Japan has previously announced it intends to kill more than 1,400 whales this year including 50 humpback whales, a species protected from commercial hunting for more than 40 years.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which commissioned the independent legal review, says the time has come for decisive action to end Japan’s expanding whaling program.

“Some of the world’s top legal experts have made the case. Japan’s whaling is not just cruel, it’s criminal. It is time for the international community to act to end this illegal activity,” said Patrick Ramage IFAW Global Whale Program Manager.

Ambassador Alberto Szekely, an international law professor who served as coordinator of the London Panel and on related expert panels convened in Paris and Sydney last year said: “Japan’s repeated assertion that its whaling activities are legal is incorrect and misleading. “Scientific whaling” as conducted by Japan violates international law and should not be allowed to continue.”

The London Report is launched on the eve of the Japanese whaling fleet’s departure to begin whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The London Report presents Governments with a clear avenue for challenging Japan’s plans to kill humpback whales this year. The Australian, New Zealand and other like-minded governments have a global responsibility to uphold these laws and treaties.

The Last Whale