Scientist condemns Japan’s whale hunting ‘loophole’

Long Lunch 14/11/2018
Photo: File.

Japan’s annual whaling expedition in the Southern Ocean has again met criticism from New Zealand leaders and experts.

A fleet left the island nation this week in attempt to kill over 300 minke whales.

In 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded that Japan’s former whaling programme was not for scientific purposes, deeming that it’s whaling was a commercial operation.

However, Japan has continued to hunt whales legally in the Southern Ocean every winter under what it claims is for “scientific research”.

Otago University marine scientist Liz Slooten says this is a loophole to get around the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling settled by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

“The science behind scientific whaling has been strongly criticised,” said Prof Slooten, who is a member of the IWC's scientific committee.

Prof Slooten says the IWC, unfortunately, is essentally a gentleman’s agreement rather than international law that can restrict the loophole.

“There is no such thing, yet, as international environmental law.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters also condemned the expedition in a statement on Tuesday.

"New Zealand is deeply disappointed that whaling continues in the Southern Ocean despite the significant scientific advice against this outdated and unnecessary practice," Mr Peters said.

In May, Japan faced international criticism after reporting that its whaling fleet killed 122 pregnant whales during its annual hunt last winter.

Listen to the full interview with Liz Slooten above.

The Long Lunch with Lynda Hallinan, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.