Over 120 Pregnant Minke Whales Killed In Japan's Latest Annual Hunt

Credit Sea Shepherd

Credit Sea Shepherd

The report was submitted to the committee ahead of the IWC meeting in Slovenia on May 25 as part of Japan's efforts to demonstrate that its scientists are gathering valuable data on whale populations and that there are sufficient numbers in the world's oceans to resume commercial whaling.

Of 181 female whales caught, 122 were pregnant and 53 juveniles, the data showed.

Japanese whalers killed 333 minke whales - 122 of which were pregnant - in the Antarctic for what the hunters described as scientific research but conservationists called "gruesome".

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that Japan's JARPA II Antarctic whaling program was illegal but Japan no longer recognizes the court as an arbiter of disputes over whales, the Maritime Executive reported.

Japan's New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A) said the mission, which stretched from November 2017 to March 2018, was "scientifically imperative to obtain an accurate understanding of many aspects of the Antarctic marine ecosystem".

After a few weeks of surveys, the team caught all the whales within just 12 weeks before setting off back to Japan.

Japan has previously justified its whaling on an exemption in global law which allows the animals to be killed for scientific purposes, but Australia won a 2014 case at the worldwide Court of Justice which ruled against the Japanese program in the Southern Ocean.

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A Minke whale is trussed to the side of the Japanese whale hunter Kyo Maru in this image from 1995 as the boat heads for the factory ship Nisshin Maru in the Antarctic whale sanctuary. "But even then, nothing about it stacks up because the whalers do not make a profit, they are heavily subsidized by taxpayers' money and whale meat is hardly ever consumed in Japan now".

While the meat is still sold, it is increasingly unpopular, with far fewer businesses selling it now than in the past.

Does anyone else hunt whales?

Figures from charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) show that many countries other than Japan still catch whales.

So-called aboriginal subsistence whaling for local communities continues in Greenland, Russia, the United States of America, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Is the hunting wiping out Antarctic whales?

A number of groups, including Sea Shepherd, are calling on the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose whaling by Japan. This attack on global biodiversity and precious ocean life is not only illegal by worldwide law, but it is greatly harming the delicate balance of nature and disturbing reproduction rates for minke whales.

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