BRUSSELS, BELGIUM--(Marketwire - Oct. 12, 2012) - European Parliamentarians have taken a strong stand against whaling as part of EU-Japan trade negotiations. The EU's International Trade Committee (INTA) has adopted several amendments, tabled by MEP David Martin (S&D), which note serious divergences between the EU and Japan on issues related to the management of fisheries and whaling, notably Japan's whaling under the guise of science. One amendment calls for, amongst other things, an "end to this so-called scientific whaling and support (for) the designation of substantial regions of ocean and seas as sanctuaries."
The amendments came as INTA voted on its position on free trade talks between the EU and Japan at an 11 October meeting based on a draft presented by MEP Metin Kazak (ALDE). EU Parliament is expected to adopt its final position on the talks at the end of October. In June, Parliament requested that the Council hold its decision on the matter until Parliament expressed its views.
These amendments from EU Parliamentarians demonstrate continued concern for animal welfare in relation to trade. In 2011, EU Parliament voted in favour of an amendment relating to Canada's commercial seal hunt, requesting that Canada withdraw its World Trade Organization challenge of the EU ban on seal products or jeopardize the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA). The amendment states that the EU "takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular Canada's request to the WTO for the establishment of a formal dispute resolution panel; and expresses its strong hope that Canada will withdraw the WTO challenge, which is counter to positive trade relations, prior to the need for ratification of the (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) by the European Parliament."
"This is a first step towards a tremendous victory for whales," said Barbara Slee IFAW Political Officer. "We are delighted the INTA Committee has recognised that bilateral agreements must ensure that our trade partners fulfil their international obligations."
The INTA Committee emphasised the need for "a robust and ambitious sustainable development chapter" that will "also include the establishment of a civil society forum that monitors and comments on," among other things, "the effective implementation of multilateral agreements on the environment, animal welfare and the conservation of biological diversity."
"Today the International Trade committee reiterated its total opposition to commercial and so-called scientific whaling," said MEP David Martin. "As the EU comes closer to launching negotiations with Japan for a free trade agreement we call on Japan to review its whaling strategy and respect the global ban on this outdated and barbaric practice."
Since 1987 Japan has killed more than 13,000 whales in its two 'scientific whaling' programs.
"The EU supports the global ban on commercial whaling and this trade deal must reflect this position" concluded Slee.
A 2009 Copenhagen Economics study showed potential export gains from a free trade agreement to be EUR43bn for the EU and EUR53bn for Japan.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook at IFAWHQ and Twitter @IFAWCanada.