Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary a Paper Tiger?

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was established in 1994 by the International Whaling Commission, with 23 countries supporting it and Japan opposing it. It covers 50 million square kilometres of ocean surrounding Antarctica.

I remember throughout the 1980s writing letters to environment ministers diligently pushing for the sanctuary. But is it a ‘paper tiger’?

On 19 November 2009 the Japanese whaling fleet left from Innoshima – rather than its Shimonoseki home port (250km west), apparently to avoid the anti-whaling protestors. It will take the fleet approximately 3 weeks to reach the Southern Ocean beneath Australia and they will chase whales for about 3 months.

As usual, the Japanese are using scientific research as the reason behind the whale hunt. A provision in the IWC charter prohibits commercial whaling, but allows it on the basis of scientific research.

Given that the Japanese still call whales ‘fish’ they are clearly not learning much from their research. In addition, the Australian Federal Environment Minister invited the Japanese to join Australia’s $32 million non-lethal whale science program but they refused.

The Japanese also rely on cultural reasons and maintenance of sustainable whale stocks for their whaling practices, and maintain that their ‘research’ is necessary to track migration patterns and whale numbers.

Then is THIS necessary to track numbers?


It is estimated up to 1000 Minke whales will be slaughtered in this season’s ‘research’, together with an unspecified number of Fin whales and Humpbacks.

What can be done? Pressure on governments by the people helped lead to the creation of the Sanctuary and it can work again. The current Rudd Government promised they would start an international court action to stop the Japanese and this has yet to come to fruition – Environment Minister Peter Garrett says they are still ‘collecting evidence’ for a possible legal action.

How much more evidence do we need? The Japanese whale hunt is unnecessary in terms of research, and more likely a thinly disguised commercial whaling operation.

What can you do?

This is a call to action. How much longer are we going to let THIS go on:


The Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett has a website here where contact information can be found. Send emails and letters asking him to stand by the government’s election promises to bring legal action against the Japanese whalers.

Greenpeace Australia have a some excellent resources for What You Can Do to help in the fight to end whaling forever.

Please help. These animals are mammals – just like us. They have no voice – please use yours to make a difference.


Wikipedia – Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

7pm Project – Whalers leave for Antarctic Waters

Sydney Morning Herald – Japanese Whaling ‘Disappoints’ Australia

© Earth Goddess Wisdom –

Want to Leave a Reply?