Portoroz, Slovenia, 17 September 2014 – The killing of whales as part of scientific research program will now be under stricter oversight after a divisive vote by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today. The decision comes after a judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March that ruled previous “scientific” hunts by Japan to be illegal.

The resolution, put forward by New Zealand, passed by a simple majority of 35 for and 20 against. Japan and other whaling nations voted against the proposal.

Disturbingly, Japan says it will restart its “scientific” whale hunt next year in defiance of the IWC resolution.

A moratorium prohibiting commercial whaling has been in effect since 1986, but Japan has continued to hunt thousands of whales by claiming that it was conducting scientific research. Today’s resolution gives a larger role to the commission in evaluating the legitimacy of scientific whaling proposals, as requested in the ICJ judgment.

Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said:

“We are pleased to see governments finally taking the steps necessary to ensure that so called “scientific” whaling is no longer exploited for commercial whaling purposes.

However, we are disappointed by Japan’s intentions to resume their hunt in the Southern Ocean in 2015, which circumvents the new rules established today. We strongly encourage Japan to demonstrate their commitment to conservation and to international law by abiding by the will of the commission.”

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