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Japan Sets Out On Yet Another Whaling Hunt

  • November 22nd, 2007
  • Posted by Sian Graham

whaling-pic.jpgTheir graceful aquatic displays and mysteriously complex songs draw thousands of tourists worldwide, eager to catch a glimpse of these majestic giants of the sea.

Each year they also draw hundreds of Japanese whalers ready to kill in the name of science.


The European Commission is the latest international group to criticise Japan over its continued “scientific research” whaling expeditions to the Antarctic.

The season kicked off on Sunday with Nisshin Maru leading a fleet of six vessels on its annual five-month voyage.

The fleet intends to kill more than 1000 whales while in the Southern Ocean, including over 900 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and for the first time since 1963 the hunt will include up to 50 humpback whales.

The EU Commission said (22.11.07) Japan’s scientific whaling undermined international efforts to conserve and protect whales.

It said Japan’s decision was all the more alarming as fin and humpback whales are classified as ‘endangered’ and ‘vulnerable’ species on the Red List of Threatened Species of the World Conservation Union.

Australia, New Zealand and the United States have also made repeated calls for Japan to call off the hunt.


A loophole in the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban against commercial whaling has allowed Japan to continue whaling set up for scientific research.

But it has promoted “cultural” argumentss that whale meat is a highly sought after delicacy– while the whalers defend their less-than orthodox line, that it’s all part of the search for knowledge.

“Japan’s research makes a valuable contribution to the management of Antarctic whale species to ensure that any future commercial whaling regime is robust and sustainable to provide a reliable food source for generations to come,” Minoru Morimoto, head of the government-backed Institute of Cetacean Research, told AFP.

The IWC, however, disputes the value of lethal research and a resolution was reached in 2005 that urged the Japanese Government to adopt non-lethal research procedures.


The Japanese Government continues to ignore the IWC recommendations and international condemnation of the seasonal hunt, though one group that can?t escape their attention is Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza embarked on the same route as Japan?s whaling vessels determined to document the killings of this season.

“The whaling fleet must be recalled now. If it is not, we will take direct, non-violent action to stop the hunt,” said expedition leader Karli Thomas.

ReferenceTIME, “Why Japan’s Whale Hunt Continues”, 21.11.07.,8599,1686486,00.html, (21.11.07).

Terra Daily, “Japan whalers off to hunt humpbacks” 18.11.07., (21.11.07).

Greenpeace, “Whalers depart Japan: Humpbacks to be hunted”, 18.11.07., (21.11.07). European Commission, “European Commission concerned over Japanese whale hunting plans”, 20.11.07., (21.11.07).

European Commission, “European Commission concerned over Japanese whale hunting plans”, 20.11.07., (21.11.07).International Whaling Commission, “Scientific Permit Whaling”, 16.3.07., (21.11.07).