Whales: Conservation

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st January 2008.

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Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the threat to endangered whale species posed by the Japanese whaling fleet in waters off Antarctica.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

holding answer given 17 January 2008

Japan plans to kill 935 minke and 50 fin whales in the Antarctic this season under its "scientific" research programme (known as JARPA II). Agreed estimates from the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee for both species are too old and uncertain to be relied upon. While it seems unlikely that Japan's activities will put the survival of either species at serious risk, we note that fin whales are listed as "Endangered" on the World Conservation Union Red List of threatened species. Hunting this species may therefore put at risk the survival of small localised populations frequenting the Antarctic and South Pacific.

When I called in the Japanese Deputy Ambassador on 8 January 2008, I stressed that we found the hunting of "Endangered" fin whales particularly unacceptable; the same point was firmly made in the Demarche presented to the Japanese Government on 21 December 2007.

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