Home Conservation News Open Letter To World Leaders Attending The G20 Summit

Open Letter To World Leaders Attending The G20 Summit

Open Letter To World Leaders Attending The G20 Summit

The Japanese Government’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is effective 30th June 2019, after which it will conduct commercial whaling within its Exclusive Economic Zone and coastal waters. We ask you to send a public message to your Summit’s honourable hosts that your countries object to Japan’s commercial whaling intentions.

An adult and sub-adult Minke whale dragged aboard a Japanese whaling vessel. The wound on the calf's side was reportedly caused by an explosive-packed harpoon. Photo: Customs and Border Protection Service, Australia

Osaka, Japan, Saturday 29 June 2019

Dear (G20 leaders),

As you prepare to take your seats at the first ever G20 Summit to be held in Japan, we write to express our deep concern over the Japanese Government’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), effective 30th June 2019, and conduct commercial whaling within its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone and coastal waters.

We ask you to send a public message to your Summit’s honourable hosts that your countries object to Japan’s commercial whaling intentions in the strongest possible terms.

The international ban on commercial whaling, agreed by the IWC in 1982, applies to territorial waters as well as the high seas. It is one of the world’s most important conservation and welfare measures and has saved several populations from extinction. It has proved of vital importance in protecting the world’s great whales, enabling the gradual recovery of whale populations after decades of human- driven, catastrophic decline. However, many whale populations remain depleted or endangered.

Today, all whale populations are vulnerable to non-hunting threats including bycatch, ship collisions, climate change, and chemical, litter and noise pollution, which will take their toll on these mammals long into the future.

It therefore remains critical that co-ordinated global efforts are maintained to ensure the continued protection and survival of the world’s whales. This includes maintaining the international ban on commercial whaling.

Japan’s decision to overtly conduct commercial whaling, whilst also leaving the international body charged with overseeing whale conservation and whaling, shows a disregard for their duty to co- operate in the management of living marine resources as required by both customary international law and the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Japan’s commercial whaling aspirations serve no pressing need for whale meat in Japan or anywhere else in the world. Consumption of whale meat in Japan declined by almost 99% between 1962 and 2017, during which time government data shows that less than 4,000 tonnes were eaten.

Commercial whaling is an inherently and exceptionally cruel practice which has no place in the 21st Century. There is no reliably humane way to kill whales at sea, and exploding harpoons often cause these animals to die slowly and in agony.

As the G20 Summit takes place in Osaka, peaceful protests will take place in London, Edinburgh and other cities around the world, reflecting overwhelming global public opinion that commercial whaling is inhumane, archaic and unnecessary.

Whales are iconic, long-lived and socially complex. They are important sentinels of the health of our oceans and contribute important ecosystem services to the marine environment. International collaboration to protect whales is a global responsibility that must not be undermined by a single country acting in isolation, motivated by short-sighted self-interest.

We therefore request all G20 leaders to agree a declaration at the G20 Osaka Summit, calling for an immediate end to all commercial whaling.


Steve Backshall, BAFTA-winning English naturalist, writer and TV presenter
Liz Bonnin, Wildlife and natural history presenter
Nicky Campbell, radio broadcaster and presenter
Stephen FryRicky Gervais, Comedian, actor, screenwriter
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE. Founder - the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
Virginia McKenna, OBE, actress, author and wildlife campaigner
Will Travers OBE President Born Free Foundation


Fundación Cethus
Instituto de Conservacion de Ballenas Argentina


Australians for Animals Inc
Australian Marine Conservation Society
Australian Whale Conservation Society
Humane Society International (Australia)
Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA)
Whales Alive
World Animal Protection Australia New Zealand


Augusto Carneiro Institute
Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute


Animal Alliance Canada
No Whales in Captivity
World Animal Protection
Zoocheck Canada


Animals Asia Foundation


Eastern Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness (Martinique)
Fondation Brigitte Bardot
Robin des Bois


Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz
M.E.E.R. e.V.
Pro Wildlife e.V.


The Corbett Foundation
Sagar Shakti
Sanctuary Nature Foundation
Wildlife Conservation Trust
Wildlife First
Wildlife Protection Society of India
Wildlife Society of Orissa
Wildlife Trust of India


Animal Friends Jogja
Jakarta Animal Aid Network


Tethys Research Institute


Iruka and Kujira Action Network (IKAN)
Japan Wildlife Conservation Society


Casa Wayu
Causa Natura
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental
Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos de Mexico
Fundación Antonio Haghenbeck y de la Lama
Fundación Tierra Nueva
Grupo de los Cien
Grupo Gema del Mayab.A.C.
Legis Green
Nuevo Ciclo
Producciones Serengueti S.A.
Empty the Tanks
Marea Azul, Lourdes Rodriguez Badillo
Protectora Nacional de Animales
Reserva para la Protección de Fauna y Flora
Teyeliz, A.C.

Russian Federation

Free Russian Whales Coalition
Dolphin Rescue and Research Center (“Delfa”)
Marine Mammal Protection Center (“Orcinus”)
Rescue Center (“Seal”)
Save Dolphins 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Humane Society

South Africa

Animal Law Reform South Africa
Captured in Africa Foundation
Future 4 Wildlife
Humane Society International Africa
Pit Track K9 Conservation & Anti Poaching
Elephant Specialist Advisory Group
Southern African fight for Rhinos

South Korea

Humane Society International/South Korea
Korea Animal Rights Advocates
Korean Animal Welfare Association



Animal Defenders
Born Free Foundation
Campaign Whale
Change for Animals Foundation
Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
Humane Society International
Institute of Fisheries Management
Marine Conservation Society
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Whale and Dolphin Conservation


American Cetacean Society
Animal Welfare Institute
Blue Sphere Foundation
Center for Biological Diversity
Cetacean Society International
Defenders of Wildlife
Earthtrust International
Green Vegans
Humane Society International
International Fund for Animal Welfare
International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
Natural Resources Defense Council
Oceanic Preservation Society
Origami Whales Project
Shark Research Institute
Shark Stewards
The Whaleman Foundation
The WILD Foundation


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