their nationals for scientific research. To avoid wastage, the Article states that “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”.
The provision was not intended by the drafters of the ICRW to allow for large scale lethal research for commercial use of the ‘byproducts’, but several countries have exploited Article VIII to either avoid the IWC’s bans on hunting specific species, or to ‘top up’ their quotas. Japan, for example, killed 840 whales for scientific research between 1954 and 1986.
Because it is a provision in the treaty, Article VIII prevails over the whaling moratorium which is a regulation in the ICRW’s Schedule. This makes it a monumental loophole that the IWC cannot close without amending the treaty. Use of the scientific whaling loophole clearly defies the spirit of moratorium and the will of the IWC, and the Commission has adopted over 40 resolutions denying the validity and necessity of scientific whaling programmes and calling on Japan and other nations to stop taking whales in this way. However, these resolutions are non-binding and the whaling nations have ignored them.
Japan started Scientific Whaling in 1988 as soon as its objection was fully withdrawn, but it restricted its operations. Having killed an average of 1,800 whales a year from four species under objection, Japan’s scientific whaling focused on just one species – southern hemisphere minke whales; catching an average of 308 annually for the next six years.
In 1994, the IWC declared the Southern Ocean a sanctuary for whales, banning whaling there. Japan, however, did not stop its Antarctic hunts and lodged an objection to the sanctuary, exempting it from the effect of the ban. That same year, Japan started a scientific whaling programme in the North Pacific, taking up to 100 minke whales a year there in JARPN (Japanese Research Programme in the Pacific).
In 2000, Japan increased its Pacific operation again, adding permits for 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales. In 2002, it increased the North Pacific minke quota to 150 and added 50 sei whales. This increased again the following year to 160 minkes and 100 sei whales.
The next increase came when the original 18-year research permit for the Antarctic hunt expired in 2005 and JARPA II (Japanese Research Programme in the Antarctic) was developed. JARPA II proposed to kill up to 935 Antarctic minke whales (more than double the previous number), 50
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