Is a “Diplomatic Solution” to Whaling Possible?

Written by on June 11, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law, Whales & Dolphins

Last week, the Japanese fisheries agency reported that the spring slaughter of minke whales is at a record-low. Whalers killed only 34 minke whales between April and June. These numbers are the lowest since the ‘scientific whaling’ program began in 2003 and whalers are blaming bad weather. To learn more, read this post: Japanese Whale Hunt At Record Low.

In other news, the Dutch government responded to a global campaign by committing to stop the transfer of whale meat in the Port of Rotterdam. The campaign, led by Avaaz, obtained over one million signatures in only a week. Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs Sharon Dijksma also says she will work to convince other ports in the EU to stop the transfer of whale meat. To learn more, read this article: Dutch Government Stops Icelandic Whale Meat.

But as one door closes to whale products, another might be opening.

Despite New Zealand’s decision to take part in Australia’s International Court of Justice case to stop Japanese whaling, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is hopeful that New Zealand and Japan will find a “diplomatic solution to whaling.” To learn more, read the whole article: Door open to Japan on whaling.

Minke whale in Antarctic waters.

Minke whale in Antarctic waters. Photo credit: ravas51 via photopin cc.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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  1. I read with interest in the New Zealand Herald that the New Zealand Government have raised the issue of whaling with Japan.

    The Herald reports that ‘Foreign Minister Murray McCully has told his Japanese counterpart that he is hopeful Japan will be open to resuming talks with New Zealand to find a diplomatic solution to whaling – despite New Zealand’s decision to take part in Australia’s International Court of Justice case to try to force Japan to stop whaling.’

    Whilst I welcome the fact that the NZ Government are stepping up to the plate with Japan we hope that this does not mean a return to the negotiating position NZ adopted in recent years. The NZ Government turned its historical anti-whaling position around and entered into compromise negotiations with Japan within the ‘Future of IWC ‘ discussions, and indeed, was at one stage seen to be leading the charge for compromise alongside the USA.

    We have to hope that the lessons of that time have been learned and this time NZ can represent the overwhelming view of the NZ people who don’t want to see legal commercial whaling come back – ever.

    A few years ago, New Zealand, maybe tired to years of fighting Japan’s intransigence at the IWC and Japan’s recruitment of allies within the IWC through fisheries aid and other ‘economic imperialism’, – had sought to negotiate a compromise at the IWC that would have seen a resumption of commercial whaling and a potential withdraw from whaling in the Antarctic Sanctuary.

    However, Japan appeared to have no intention of compromise and simply used the process to drag other members of the IWC to accept its intransigent position. At the end of the day Japan was not willing to step back from any of its claims, and thinking it was in the ascendancy at the IWC sought to force New Zealand and others to back down on their demands.

    New Zealand and others had gambled on getting the deal with Japan, – but were faced with Japan’s poker playing, and as desperation struck, appeared to be willing to compromise their own position even further to get any deal they could, until finally realising that they were being taken for a ride, stepped away from the process which finally collapsed.

    Of course this was a success for Japan and her allies as they could simply claim that the IWC was ‘dysfunctional’, when in truth they had created the situation in the first place.

    Now New Zealand is re-engaging, but has New Zealand a different strategy? Has New Zealand learned from its past or is it ready to see commercial whaling come back because its, once again, ‘blinking first’?

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks for such an informative comment, Chris! I hope New Zealand has learned from its past, but I guess we’ll see soon enough.