Related articles

The conflict of mineral mining in a whale sanctuary
IWC identifies compelling evidence that ocean sounds impact whales
The costs of seismic exploration
New Zealand joins 16 countries in diplomatic protest on whaling
Underwater noise: Death knell of our oceans?
20 years on and whales are under threat again
Conflicting uses with New Zealand control of its ocean territory

Home > Environmental Issues > Article >

A victory for whales!

Japanese company Nissui agrees to divest itself of whaling interests

Earth Island Institute Release
San Francisco, 4 April 2006

Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) declared victory in a series of campaigns aimed at Japan's whaling industry.

On March 31st, the Japanese company Nissui, owner of whaling ships and a whale meat cannery, announced they would divest their whaling company assets and no longer participate in Japan's controversial "scientific" whaling scheme.

Nissui owns part of Sealord Tuna, based in New Zealand. As part of its International Dolphin Safe Tuna Monitoring Program, Earth Island Institute's IMMP launched a boycott against Sealord Tuna in New Zealand, urging the company to divest its whaling industry activities.

"The people of New Zealand and Australia refused to buy Sealord Tuna products once they learned that Sealord was involved in whaling," stated David Phillips, Director of Earth Island Institute. "This is the first time we have been able to influence a large Japanese corporation to stop whaling."

"Our standards for Dolphin Safe tuna includes provisions that a company cannot be involved in other destructive practices, such as whaling," stated Mark Berman, Associate Director of IMMP.

"Our work in New Zealand and Australia publicized the links of Sealord to Nissui and their whale slaughter, and led consumers to take action in the supermarkets across the country."

In 1985, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), under pressure from the environmental community, instituted a moratorium on commercial whaling.

The following whaling season in 1986, Japan's government countered the move by starting "scientific whaling" to "study" whales.

The Sealord / Nissui connection

Sealord Group Ltd is New Zealand's largest fishing company, which is 50 percent owned by Nissui (Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd). Sealord owns 19 percent of the New Zealand quota in fisheries throughout the EEZ. With joint ventures, the company has expanded to other Southern Hemisphere hoki, orange roughy and toothfish fisheries in the waters of South America, Australia, Antarctic, and the Indian Ocean.

New Zealand's anti-whaling reputation has been damaged by the involvement in whaling of Sealord's partner. Sealord has complained that it has been wrongly targeted by campaigns, but its partner has been implicated in whaling.

Most observers view Japan's scientific whaling as a ruse to keep up commercial whaling, as the Nissui company benefits from government subsidy of their whaling fleet and cannery, while meat products from dead whales are sold on the Japanese market.

The number of whales killed for Japan's so-called research has steadily increased, with 900 minke whales expected to be killed this year in the waters of Antarctica.

The IWC has repeatedly passed resolutions urging Japan to drop their scientific whaling operations.

Greenpeace and other organizations had joined Earth Island in the Sealord Tuna boycott. Greenpeace, Humane Society of the US, and other groups had also instituted a boycott of Gorton's fish products in the US. Gorton's is also partially owned by Nissui.

"This action by Nissui won't end the Japanese government's perverse support for slaughtering whales," noted Phillips. "But it shows that people can profoundly influence the protection of global species by making important choices in the market place.

Other companies with ties to the exploitation of whales, dolphin-deadly tuna, and other endangered species should take heed that such crimes against nature will not be tolerated by consumers."

Humpback whale breaching
In the autumn humpback whales migrate north from their feeding ground in the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary off Antarctica, passing along the New Zealand coasts, and the Kermadec Ridge, to their winter breeding ground around Tonga.  Photo NOAA

Click on image to enlarge

2004 IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species

Fin whale
Balaenoptera physalus
Blue whale
Balaenoptera musculus
Humpback whale
Megaptera novaeangliae
Sperm whale
Physeter catodon
Common minke whale
Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Lower risk - not threatened
Southern right whale
Eubalaena australis
Lower risk - conservation dependent
Pacific pilot whale
Globicephala macrorhynchus
Lower risk - conservation dependent
Southern bottlenose whale
Hyperoodon planifrons
Lower risk - conservation dependent
Arnoux's beaked whale
Berardius arnuxii
Lower risk - conservation dependent

Copyright © 2006 TerraNature Trust. All rights reserved.

home | sponsors | latest news & events | join - donate | contact information | projects
volunteer activities | about us | site map | environmental issues | New Zealand ecology