Animal welfare group lobbies China to vote against Japanese whaling
China in the World | Environment
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been lobbying the government of China to oppose Japanese proposals, put to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to increase “scientific” whaling and to resume commercial whaling.
Both proposals were rejected at the 57th annual meeting of the IWC, which closed in Korea on June 24. The Chinese government delegation voted for the first proposal and abstained from the latter.
“The Chinese government’s attitude on this issue is still ambiguous,” according to IFAW press officer, He Yong.
In mid- June, a week before the Chinese delegation was dispatched to the IWC meeting, IFAW sent an open letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, urging them to adopt a conservation stance and oppose Japan’s proposals.
IFAW also held an anti-whaling event at Beijing University on June 14. Professor Zhu Qian, a marine mammal biologist from Shandong University, said in a public lecture that Japanese whaling is one of the major threats to global whale populations, alongside marine pollution, ship collisions and accidental damage caused by fishing fleets.
The event was attended by Chinese officials responsible for enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, along with diplomats from anti-whaling countries such as the UK, Germany and Brazil, and Chinese NGO representatives and activists.
“China as a non-whaling country has a moral obligation to protect marine resources in its oceans and seas,” Grace Ge Gabriel, deputy director of IFAW’s Wildlife and Habitat Protection Department told the attendees. “As China is playing an increasingly important role in the region and around the world politically and economically, China should also take a leadership role in protecting marine wildlife.”
However, China and Russia were among the few big nations to side with Japan in this year’s vote. Since 2000, according to IFAW, the Chinese delegation to the IWC has voted with Japan in 59 out of a total of 60 cases, giving support on key issues such as increased killing of ‘J’ stock mink whales in the East China Sea, and opposing, with Japan, the establishment of a Conservation Committee.
Japan recently proposed to double its whaling quotas, expand its whaling to include other whale species, and conduct whaling in internationally established whale sanctuaries. The country has a long tradition of eating whale meat, of which it is the world’s leading consumer. According to IFAW, over 20,000 tons of whale meat is sold in Japan each year.
Japan halted commercial whaling in 1986 under the International Whaling Commission moratorium but resumed whaling under the guise of a scientific research programme from 1987. Since the, Japan has progressively raised its catch, killing more than 8,000 whales ever since. The humpbacks and fin whales, which are on Japan’s whaling target, have been listed as the most endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Report by Tina Qian, June 24, 2005