In 1982, the International Whaling Commission placed a historic pause (or moratorium) on commercial whaling as a result of rapidly declining whale populations. Under the false pretense of “scientific research,” Japan has time and time again attempted to prove the that there are “plentiful” populations of targeted whales in order to lift the ban on commercial whaling. Though their research methods have been proven to be of little scientific help (and seem to contribute more the Japan’s whale meat stocks), the country is back at it yet again.

Now in an attempt to expand their whaling zone into the Antarctic, Japan has decreased its whale catch quota by two-thirds in the hopes of resuming commercial whaling. With an original catch target of 1,035 whales (935 minke and 100 humpback and fin whales), the country now intends to target 333 minke whales annually between the years 2015 and 2027.

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Yet again, using the label of “scientific research” as a protective barrier, Japan may break through the moratorium with their New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (or NEWREP-A for short). Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research has attempted to justify their right to hunt by writing, “After giving serious scientific consideration, it has been concluded that age data at the annual scale can be obtained only through lethal sampling methods, and thus lethal methods need to be employed under this program.”

Based on this document, the so-called “research” will help collect information on minke whales as well as investigate the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Koya Nishikawa, the Japanese Agriculture Minister, has told reporters that the new program has been revised based on previous court rulings that have deemed Japan’s “research whaling” illegal and unnecessary.

The Global Whale Programme Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Patrick Ramage, strongly disagrees with the proposal and says, “We are carefully reviewing this 100-page document, but it’s immediately clear this plan will mean more blood in the water, an expanded Antarctic killing zone, and a sharp increase over the actual number of whales taken in recent years. It is time for Japan to finally end its outdated, cruel and unscientific killing of whales.”

Furthermore, Ramage suggests that if Japanese “researchers” truly want to study cetaceans, they should join the IWC-supported, multi-national, non-lethal Southern Ocean Research Programme, which produces valuable data from studying living whales in their marine environment rather than slaughtering them.”

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Image source: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

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