Hello everyone. The ICR (Institution for Cetacean Research) has announced that the Japanese whaling fleet has returned to port. This season, the whalers hunted and killed 333 minke whales since December. What this amounts to is that many of the 333 whales were illegally slaughtered in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and Australian Whale Sanctuary. I can tell you this thanks to the ICR announcing the coordinates where each whale was killed. Sadly of those killed, 200 are being reported as pregnant females. For those of you who may not follow this blog regularly, or this is your first time here....
Back in 2014, the International Court of Justice declared that Japan's lethal scientific whale research program was not scientific, but rather commercial whaling. There is a moratorium currently in effect on commercial whaling, a moratorium in which Japan was found to be violating year after year. The moratorium has a loophole in that nations are able to kill whales for scientific research and sell the meat of the whale rather than waste it. Japan took advantage of that for years, claiming that it was too difficult to do non-lethal research. In order to resume whaling, Japan would need to develop a new program that would actually have scientific merit. Last year, Japan sent a few whaling ships down to the Southern Ocean and performed non lethal research. In late 2015, Japan announced that it would once again be whaling in the Southern Ocean under a new program that was also shot down by the IWC. So by whaling this year, Japan broke international law as they currently have a court ruling against them and at the same time, once again broke the moratorium on commercial whaling.
While the number of whales killed this year is significantly smaller than the quotas that have been set up in the past, illegal is illegal. It's great that Japan has scaled back the number of whales it's hunting, but that is not enough because their program has no scientific merit and is classified as commercial, which remains illegal. In years past the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society locked horns with the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, but due to several of their vessels undergoing repairs, the lateness in which Japan announced it would be whaling, and the massive increase in the whaling fleet's target areas, Sea Shepherd was unable to pursue the whalers this year. Despite that Sea Shepherd is battling the ICR in courts around the world and claim to have a high speed ship that would be able to track down the whaling fleet set to set sail next season.
So how long will Japan spit in the face of the world in regards to whaling? Well probably until somebody actually does something about it. Probably until Australia or New Zealand actually escort the whaling fleet out of the whale sanctuaries. Another scenario that could bring an end to the large scale whale hunts would be the lone factory ship needing to be replaced. As an older vessel, the Nisshin Maru's life can only be so long and replacing it would be a huge cost that the Japanese Government may see as a waste as the popularity of whale meat continues to drop.
The bottom line here is that Japan has once again defied international law and until they are not allowed to do so they will do it year after year.