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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Whale "Research" and CITES

Over the past 20 years, Japanese whalers have taken more than 10,000 whales from the Antarctic Southern Ocean and the north Pacific Ocean for ‘scientific purposes’, under a controversial exemption clause in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). After analyzing the relationship of the ICRW regime with other applicable multilateral agreements, this article concludes that Japan’s current pelagic ‘research whaling’ programmes are not only a growing embarrassment for the country’s meritorious ongoing research in both polar regions; they are also in open breach of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In light of different options for international legal action, the author recommends the initiation of ‘compliance procedures’ – potentially leading to a collective trade embargo – in accordance with CITES Conference Resolution 14.3 (2007).
Whilst the attached document is a rather heavy document to read it does point out some serious issues in regard to Japan's cavalier attitude to the conventions it is signed up to. It seems the whalers are able to skirt around certain treaties either due to not having signed up to them or due to the language used in one excluding or contradicting another.

However, when it comes to CITES it seems the case is clear. Nothing within ICRW Article VIII (The favoured loophole of the whalers that allows for "Scientific Research Whaling") excludes the requirements of CITES.

Finding 1: The introduction into Japanese territory of whale specimens taken in the course of the JARPA/JARPN ‘research whaling programmes’ in theAntarctic and North Pacific Oceans is ‘trade’ as defined in CITES, Article 1(c) and (e).

Finding 2: The 391 sei whales taken from 2001 to 2007 in the context of Japanese ‘research whaling programmes’ in the north Pacific, as well as all humpback whales, are Appendix I species subject to the trade ban of CITES, Article 3. Furthermore, all other whales and whale products taken under these programmes are subject to the provisions for Appendix II species.

Finding 3: The purposes for which 391 north-west Pacific sei whales were taken by the ICR in the context of the JARPN-II programme from 2001 to 2007, as well as the purposes for which another 100 sei whales will be taken in 2008, were and are primarily commercial within the agreed meaning of CITES, Article 3(5)(c). Hence, the special permits so granted by the Japanese Fisheries Agency were contrary to international law, and should be revoked without delay. The parts and products of sei whales already introduced and stored in Japan should be considered as illegal imports, and should therefore be confiscated pursuant to CITES, Article 8(1)(b) and the corresponding Japanese regulations for implementation.

Finding 4: The hybrid administrative function or hierarchic subordination of the Japanese ‘scientific authority’ for marine species under the Japanese Fisheries Agency, as the national ‘management authority’, patently contravenes the authentic interpretation of CITES, Article 9(1)(b) by Resolution 10.3 of the Conference of the Parties. Furthermore, the continuous non-compliance of the JFA with its international reporting duties since 2001 constitutes a serious infraction of Article 8(7)(a) of the Convention.


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