I wasn’t really sure what to write about for my first argument for the white paper, but I was browsing the channels and came across the show Whale Wars on Animal Planet. I’ve watched a couple episodes with my sister so I know the background of the show. Basically a conservation organization called the Sea Shepherd travels by boat to the Antarctic waters in search of the Japanese whaling fleet. Their goal is to disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet so that their whaling efforts are hindered to the point where they must return home.
I started out my cited reference search on Google Scholar and typed in “sea shepherd” but this didn’t receive many hits so I decided to just go straight to their website and read through it. Their website contains a ton of information backing up their reasoning for going after the Japanese whaling fleet and the reasons Japan is breaking international law. Japan is party to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and as part of it, they are not allowed to hunt whales for profit. However, there is a loophole in the Convention which allows countries to hunt a number of whales each year in the name of scientific research. The problem with this is that Japan is allowed to decide how many whales they need for research. The whales hunted are then “examined for research purposes” and any leftover whale meat is permitted to be sold for profit. There is high demand for whale meat in Japan because it is so scarce and thus it is a profitable product. Seashepherd.org includes links to the ICRW and the IWC and the mandate allowing Japan to hunt whales as well as the IWC resolutions that encourage Japan to stop its whaling efforts (although this is non-binding).
After visiting the Sea Shepherd website, I decided to used Google Scholar to find information about Japan’s stance on the issue. What does the Japanese government say about the issue and what is their response to the resolutions issued by the IWC and the pressures by the international community? I found an article in the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy title “Why Japan Supports Whaling”. I also found an article on “The Politics of Whaling” that focuses on the opinions of different governments. I guess after reading about the two side of the “Whale Wars” I have to decide how to approach the white paper. I can make my arguments for the IWC or the ICRW convincing them to take out the “research loophole” in the convention. Or I could also argue my points and have society be the decision maker. Is Japan ethical in their whaling efforts while keeping in mind that they are technically following international customary law?