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14 August 2006 - Japanese tuna scandal is stark warning for whales and should cause rethink on tuna protection      

Japanese tuna scandal is stark warning for whales and should cause rethink on tuna protection

Sydney, 14 August 2006                                    
                                                                                                                            

Humane Society International (HSI) has issued a stark warning to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), following revelations that Japan is accused of a massive illegal catch of critically endangered southern bluefin tuna over the past twenty years, more than doubling their internationally agreed annual quota.

The IWC has been debating whether to cave into Japanese lobbying and over-turn the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, with Japan recently recruiting enough countries to start winning votes.

The IWC should take heed from the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) which has discovered that over $2 billion dollars worth of illegally caught southern bluefin tuna have passed through Japanese fish markets over the past 20 years. Australian Government sources have suggested that the Japanese tuna industry is responsible and that the illegal catch has been between 12,000 and 20,000 tonnes in excess of the country’s 6065 tonne annual quota. 

“This is a scandal of epic proportions” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Wildlife and Habitat Program Manager. “If proven this will make clear that Japan cannot be trusted to exploit marine resources within internationally agreed quotas. They must never be given a commercial quota for whales”.

Ironically, many of the countries recruited to vote with Japan at the IWC allow the foreign power’s industrial fishing fleets into their waters to exploit their tuna resources.

“Illegal fishing has delivered a fatal blow to the already critically endangered southern bluefin tuna and should cause an urgent rethink on the species’ lack of protection”, said Ms Beynon.

In light of these revelations, HSI is asking Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, to immediately review his controversial decisions not to protect southern bluefin tuna as an endangered species and to accredit the fishery as ecologically sustainable under Australia’s environment law, which allowed Australia’s own inflated quota to continue.

We are also calling on Australia and New Zealand to wake up to the CCSBT’s ineptitude at managing southern bluefin tuna and nominate the endangered species for big-stick international trade regulation through the UN Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species.

“Australia and New Zealand should be throwing all the international law possible at Japan to ensure they don’t get away with this again”, said Ms Beynon.





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