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Under the new program, Japan will kill 333 minke whales each summer. This is down from 850 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpback whales under the previous whaling program, JARPA II. Anti-whaling nations and non-government organizations have condemned the decision.
In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that JARPA II was not “for the purposes of scientific research” after Australia and New Zealand challenged Japan’s whaling program.
The decision was widely-lauded as the end of whaling in the Antarctic. However, since the decision Japan has revised its program and decided to continue whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Japan’s new whaling program
Whaling is regulated under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Article VIII of the Whaling Convention allows for a country to issue permits to itself to undertake lethal scientific research.
The 2014 court judgment didn’t ban scientific whaling. It simply stated that the scientific whaling program, JARPA II, was not for the purposes of scientific research. This left open the option of a new scientific whaling program.
Following the decision, Japan announced a new scientific whaling proposal: “Proposed Research Plan for New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean” or NEWREP-A.
In February, an expert panel of the International Whaling Commission under the convention advised Japan that there was not enough detail in the proposal to justify the program. Japan has now responded that “it does not require any substantial changes to the contents of NEWREP-A”. It is on this platform that their whaling program will proceed.
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