Whales: Japan

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 1st February 2008.

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Photo of David Anderson David Anderson PPS (Bill Rammell, Minister of State), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(1) if he will seek to place the recent report by a panel of independent legal experts on the legality of the Japanese whaling industry on the agenda of the annual meeting of the International Whaling Congress in Santiago in June 2008 for consideration by the parties;

(2) what representations he has received on the legality of the Japanese whaling industry; what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on this subject; and what plans he has to raise this matter with the (i) Japanese government and (ii) International Whaling Commission.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Labour, Scunthorpe

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has had discussions with the Australian government on potential legal action against Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean; and if he will make a statement.

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

DEFRA is aware of the recent report commissioned by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) which questioned the legality of Japan's whaling under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Following the recent announcement that Japan intended to take 50 humpback whales in the Southern Ocean as part of its JARPA II whaling programme, the UK CITES Management Authority wrote to the CITES Secretariat asking for clarification on the legal position. We have drawn the contents of their reply to the attention of the EU CITES Management Committee, which will consider it at its next meeting in April. Japan subsequently announced it will not target humpbacks, but will still target minke and endangered fin whales.

DEFRA has also received representations from Greenpeace UK and IFAW about the legality of Japanese whaling under CITES. A number of hon. Members have also made representations in support of IFAW's position.

We will continue our efforts, along with other countries, to urge Japan to reconsider their position on whaling. In the build up to the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Chile (IWC60) and in discussion with other like-minded anti-whaling countries, we will consider all reports and options, including all legal avenues available.

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