An international panel monitoring wildlife trade on Monday recommended Japan accept a fact-finding mission to see whether its hunting of sei whales in the North Atlantic is purely for scientific purposes as it claims.
The Standing Committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, made the recommendation at a meeting in Geneva, saying Japan’s whaling of the species may violate the rules of the convention.
It is the first time that Japan’s hunting of sei whales has been on the official CITES agenda, according to the secretariat of the convention.
During the meeting, representatives of some countries including the United States and New Zealand expressed concern about the whaling, citing lack of information provided by Tokyo.
The representative of Japan countered that its research whaling is completely for scientific purposes and has not affected the species’ population.
Should the mission find any violation in Tokyo’s hunting of sei whales, the CITES Standing Committee would be able to recommend Japan halt their trade.
CITES rules regulate commercial trade in sei whales as endangered species, but Japan is allowed to catch them for the purpose of research as an exception to the provisions.