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Japan defies Whaling Commission, begins Dall's porpoise hunt

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  • Masako Miyaji
    http://enn.com/news/enn-stories/2001/11/11012001/s_45430.asp Japan defies Whaling Commission, begins Dall s porpoise hunt Thursday, November 01, 2001 By
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2001
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      http://enn.com/news/enn-stories/2001/11/11012001/s_45430.asp

      Japan defies Whaling Commission, begins Dall's
      porpoise hunt

      Thursday, November 01, 2001
      By Environmental News Network

      In defiance of a resolution passed by the
      International Whaling Commission (IWC) in London in
      July, the Japanese whaling fleet begins its
      controversial hunt of Dall's porpoises on Nov. 1.
      At its annual meeting in July, the IWC Scientific
      Committee expressed "extreme concern" over the numbers
      of Dall's porpoises killed each year. It is the
      largest direct kill of any whale, dolphin, or porpoise
      in the world, with up to 18,000 porpoises killed each
      year in hand harpoon hunts in Japanese coastal waters.

      The IWC resolution, proposed by the British
      delegation, called for an immediate halt to the Dall's
      porpoise hunts until a full population estimate has
      been carried out.

      The current abundance estimate is more than 10 years
      old. Since then more than 130,000 Dall's porpoises
      have been reported killed. In addition, substantial
      numbers have been killed by fishing vessels targeting
      other species. These do not figure in official
      statistics.

      Japan declined to give the IWC data on the numbers of
      porpoises in its waters or those killed. Japanese
      officials said that because the cull took place in
      Japanese territorial waters, it was outside IWC
      jurisdiction.

      Deputy delegation head Masayuki Komatsu, backed by
      several small Caribbean states, said the Commission's
      writ only covers great whales, and it had no place
      remarking on small cetaceans.

      "Unless the Commission stops undue interference on the
      catching of small cetaceans, we are not prepared to
      provide information," Komatsu said. The Japanese have
      refused to take part in the work of the small cetacean
      subcommittee of the IWC Scientific Committee or
      provide any information on the subject of coastal
      cetaceans at next year's IWC meeting.

      Dall's porpoises are named after the zoologist who
      first noted them in the wild, William H. Dall. The IWC
      first expressed concern about the sustainability of
      the Dall's porpoise hunt in 1990 when it was revealed
      that 67 percent of the estimated Japanese population
      of this species had been killed in the previous three
      years.

      The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a
      California-based marine mammal protection
      organization, said Japan is "hunting its coastal
      cetacean populations to extinction. Hundreds of boats
      are licensed to kill porpoises and use specialized
      equipment. They have severely depleted, in sequence,
      populations of striped dolphins, pilot whales, beaked
      whales, and Dall's porpoise," according to the Sea
      Shepherd Society, whose founding president, Paul
      Watson, has protested Japanese coastal porpoise and
      dolphin kills in Japan.

      DNA analyses done recently by the Environmental
      Investigation Agency (EIA), a nonprofit environmental
      group with offices in London and Washington, show that
      meat labeled as "whale" in Japanese supermarkets is
      often Dall's porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, or other
      dolphin or small whale species.

      The label said "whalemeat," but products purchased by
      EIA investigators from a supermarket in Osaka were
      actually Dall's porpoise, lab analysis found. The meat
      contained levels of methyl mercury four times higher
      than consumption levels permitted by the government of
      Japan.

      Clare Perry, senior campaigner for EIA, said, "Japan's
      refusal to abide by the IWC's resolution is simply the
      latest example of the Japanese government's disregard
      for international conservation agreements and
      scientific opinion."

      Japan's Fisheries Agency has called the yearly take of
      Dall's porpoises "a sustainable level ... based on
      scientific standards."

      Perry said, "Japan has ignored repeated requests in
      the past to lower the numbers killed, refused to take
      part in this year's population review of the species,
      and has already stated it will not provide information
      at next year's meeting of the IWC. Its history of
      utter intransigence is unrivaled within the IWC.
      Meanwhile the unregulated slaughter of Dall's
      porpoises continues."

      "As the population plummets," Perry warned Wednesday,
      "hunters are targeting lactating females with calves.
      The dependent calves are left to die, and they do not
      figure in official catch statistics. The International
      Whaling Commission recognizes the urgent need to end
      these hunts. Japan should comply with international
      opinion and earn some much needed credibility and
      respect within the IWC."

      Copyright 2001, Environmental News Network
      All Rights Reserved

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