Whaling is a brutal and bloody business, and although there has been strong opposition to it from millions of people around the world, Japan, Norway, and Iceland continue to hunt and kill these beautiful creatures by the boat load. And now we have more bad news.

A recent pro-whaling law by the Japanese Parliment recently passed that will allow Japan to take steps towards resuming commercial whale hunting under the guise of “scientific research.” This marks the first time whale hunting could resume since a global moratorium was enacted in 1985 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), animal welfare group In Defense of Animals reports.

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Despite international protest, and the 2014 IWC ruling that Japan should halt whaling in the Antarctic,  Japan still continues to hunt whales, believing that whales are “a great source of food.” Just last year they reported killing 333 minke whales, despite over 500 scientists from over 30 countries rejecting the IWC’s scheme. Sadly, 200 of those 333 were reported to be pregnant. Australia has openly condemned the new laws, which would allow Japan to protect its fleets from anti-whaling organizations like Sea Shepherd.

Not only that, but the law seeks to preserve funding for this so called “research whaling” into Japan’s national budget. You would imagine that there would be strict laws about the grounds for scientific research which allows “scientists” to capture and kill wild animals. However, after more than 25 years of this practice, almost no significant data has ever been published by a reputable scientific journal.

Japanese officials frequently claim that whale and dolphin meat is highly nutritious and that their cetacean hunts are no worse than the slaughter of other animals for meat. Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research actively advertises whale meat as “a nutritious food that enhances physical strength and reduces fatigue.”

This is despite the fac that studies have shown the presence of organochlorines such as PCBs, dioxins, PBDEs and many other persistent organic pollutants that are known to mimic estrogen and other hormones in whale meat. According to non-profit Blue Voice, “A group of Japanese scientists reported in September 2007 that the breast milk of Japanese women tested was contaminated by PCBs. The scientists reported the likely route of ingestion into human bodies was through consumption of fish… It should be emphasized that dolphins [and whales], at the apex of the food chain, have far higher concentration of contaminants than most fish.” So is ingesting concentrated ocean pollutants that are easily stored in whale blubber really considered “nutritious?”

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The good news, from a consumer standpoint, is Japanese consumption of meat from cetaceans has been undergoing a steady decline. A 2012 poll conducted by the Nippon Research Centre found that 90 percent of its 1,200 Japanese respondents had not purchased whale meat in the past year. The same poll discovered that the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to oppose the practice of whaling.

While heartbreaking atrocities against these intelligent and sensitive marine animals are still occurring, the world is beginning to demonstrate that it is unwilling to stand for this abuse any longer. Please share this article and encourage others to do the same. Let’s continue to keep the pressure on the Japanese government.

Lead image source: Cyrille Humbert/Flickr

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