Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. Whoever may be reading this blog. Welcome back or welcome to A Voice for the Voiceless. Here we are in the year 2015 and this will be yet another blog on the topic of whaling. Just yesterday, the Japanese Whaling Fleet set out for the Southern Ocean in defiance of International Court. Back in 2014 the International Court ruled that Japan’s “Scientific” whaling program, JARPA II was basically not scientific at all, but rather commercial whaling. So Japan was forced to stop their whaling program and come up with one that could be deemed scientific.
So far Japan has killed no whales in the Southern Ocean this year as the whaling fleet did not go down to the Southern Ocean to hunt during the 2014/2015 season. Rather several unarmed ships from the whaling fleet went south to perform non-lethal research on the whales. It’s strange how Japan seemed perfectly capable of performing research without killing when they claimed for so long that they needed to kill in order to perform the research. It’s strange how things work out that way. While the 2014 season was a welcome calm, Japan killed no whales in the Southern Ocean. The same ships that absolutely had to kill whales to do research did just the opposite. Now though things are back almost to where they were.
Despite the International Court having not yet reviewed Japan’s new whaling plan, Japan has set out to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. Just a few short days ago, an Australian court fined the Japanese whaling company, Kyodo Senpaku, 1 million dollars for breaching an order to stop killing whales in what it calls “willful contempt” since 2008. Australia and the vast majority of the world for that matter continue to condemn Japan’s decision to resume whaling as the ships head South. Many groups and organizations have been petitioning Australia to send a naval vessel down to the Southern Ocean to survey the whaling activities and if need be act should whaling happen in Australian waters. This year the Japanese plan to slaughter roughly 330 Minke whales, a number that is significantly lower than previous years where the number would normally eclipse the 900 mark.
The harpoon boat "Yushin Maru No.1" departing Japan
The ultimate question right now is will anyone actually oppose the Japanese this year in the Southern Ocean. As of now Australia has not announced any intent on sending a ship to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet, so it appears that any direct action from Australia will once again, and by no means surprisingly be non existent. The real kicker with that is Australia is sending a ship to the Ross Sea where whaling does take place to patrol Australian waters for toothfish poachers. Kind of sad to think that if this ship were to stumble upon an internationally labeled illegal whaling operation that it would simply pass it by.
Elsewhere, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has not yet come out and directly stated that they will be hunting the whaling fleet as they have done in years past. Sea Shepherd has stated that they will be in the Southern Ocean as they were last year chasing down and preventing the slaughter of rare toothfish. Last year Sea Shepherd's toothfish defense campaign proved incredibly successful and climaxed with the sinking of a pirate vessel along with the arrest of several others. Sea Shepherd has stated however that should they see any illegal activities that they will not hesitate to intervene. Despite not physically going after the whalers this year, Sea Shepherd has already filed a massive counterclaim in a lawsuit that the whalers filed against them a few years back which led to an injunction of Sea Shepherd interfering in the whaling operations. Japan claims that Sea Shepherd USA continued to harass the whaling fleet for another year, but Sea Shepherd is a global organization and only the USA branch was barred from approaching a whaling ship. Sea Shepherd intends to use both the International Court ruling in which Japan is currently ignoring as well as the Australian Federal Court ruling which again, Japan is ignoring as a massive launching point to the counter.
So at this point it appears that the Japanese will not be facing any direct opposition unless they manage to accidentally stumble upon Sea Shepherd hunting toothfish poachers. However they will be dealing with court battles around the world over the issue as the International Court readies to review the new program Japan has already started operating. Now the world watches to see if Japan will only kill the 330ish whales and if they also perform nonlethal research in the Southern Ocean while the outcry for them to put a final end to the illegal operation continues to grow louder and louder by the day. The year is 2015 and one of the world's superpowers continue to act as criminals in the Southern Ocean. The year is 2015 and the traditional sense of whaling has long been dead. The year is 2015 and the world has seen enough. The year will soon be 2016. Let's see an end to Japan's commercial whaling forever.