SYDNEY – Environmental non-profit Sea Shepherd welcomed Japan’s announcement Wednesday to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, saying it would allow for the creation of a whale sanctuary.
The non-profit said in a statement that without opposition from Japan, the IWC will be able to approve a motion to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, effectively ending whaling in the Southern Hemisphere.
“The Whale Wars in the Southern Ocean will soon be over,” said Sea Shepherd, adding that it will now have to focus on the Northern Hemisphere, where Japan will engage in whaling along with Iceland and Norway.
Japan joined the IWC in 1951 and claims to have abided by a 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling, saying it hunts for scientific research.
However, environmental organizations such as Sea Shepherd have said Japan continued to covertly hunt whales for commercial purposes.
“The scheme to pose as researchers will now be dropped and that means there can be absolutely no justification for hunting whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary. This will be the last year of Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean,” Sea Shepherd said.