A factory ship loaded with 2,000 tons of meat from whales caught in an Antarctic whale sanctuary is scheduled to arrive in Japan early morning 11th April. The ship is operated by a private organisation set up by Japan’s whaling industry and subsidised by the Fisheries Agency of Japan, which claims the whaling is for scientific purposes. “To call this whaling ‘scientific’ is an insult to science,” said John Frizell of Greenpeace. “Japan claims that the ‘research’ is conducted for the International Whaling Commission (IWC), however the IWC’s scientists – including all of its Japanese scientists – have unanimously agreed that they don’t need the information produced”.

Annual meetings of the IWC have repeatedly passed resolutions urging Japan to end the programme.

“The goal of this program is not science – it is money”, said Frizell. He dismissed claims by the operators of the ship that the IWC’s treaty required them to use the meat (1). “The treaty simply requires them to use whales ‘so far as practical’. They are bringing home thousands of tons of whale meat because the catch will sell for up to US$ 33 million wholesale on the Japanese open market.

The most recent meeting of the IWC’s scientists discovered that their estimate of the numbers of Antarctic minke whales, the target of the ‘research’ whaling, was wrong. The scientists will hold a special meeting in July to try and agree a new estimate. “The scientists will not use a single piece of data from the dead whales loaded on that ship,” said Frizell. “It is absurd that a private institute and a single government agency should defy an international body and world opinion on behalf of the vested interests of the whaling industry. It is particularly absurd when poll results (2) show that only 11% of the Japanese public supports whaling and 14% opposes it”. Greenpeace calls on the Government of Japan to refuse to issue further permits for these expeditions and to ensure that no more whales are caught in the Southern Ocean sanctuary, over 6,000 miles from Japan, in the name of bogus research.


– John Frizell, Greenpeace International, +44 1273 476 839
– Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace Communication, mobile +31 6 24 00 00 67

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(1) Article VIII from the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) reads:

  1. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Convention any Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorising that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research subject to such restrictions as to number and subject to such other conditions as the Contracting Government thinks fit, and the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention. Each Contracting Government shall report at once to the Commission all such authorizations, which it has granted. Each Contracting Government may at any time revoke any such special permit, which it has granted.
  2. Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted.
  3. Each Contracting Government shall transmit to such body as may be designated by the Commission, in so far as practicable, and at intervals of not more than one year, scientific information available to that Government with respect to whales and whaling, including the results of research conducted pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Article and to Article IV.
  4. Recognizing that continuous collection and analysis of biological data in connection with the operations of factory ships and land stations are indispensable to sound and constructive management of the whale fisheries, the Contracting Governments will take all practicable measures to obtain such data.
  5. (2) “Whaling in Japan: Attitudes and Behaviour of the Japanese public. Research study conducted for Greenpeace by MORI social research, November-December 1999”. Roughly one in ten (11%) Japanese adults support whaling (2% strongly so), against a similar number (14%) who opposes it (3% strongly so).