In defiance of international protests, Japanese whaling vessels returned to port with another 333 minke whales on Saturday after its months-long hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in Antarctic waters.
According to the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, among the whales collected, 152 were male and 181 were female. About 60 percent of the males and 70 percent of the females were matured.
Japan plans to hunt about 4,000 whales over the next decade despite the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) 1986 moratorium on commercial hunting. The country launched its “scientific whaling” program in 1987 as a loophole to the moratorium.
Its government insists that the marine mammals are killed in the name of research. “The purpose of this research is to carry out a detailed calculation of the catch limit of minke whales and study the structure and dynamics of the ecological system in the Antarctic Ocean,” the Fisheries Ministry said after last year’s hunt.
However, Reuters noted that Japan’s ultimate goal is the resumption of commercial whaling. Japan insists that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, even though most Japanese people no longer eat it.
Conservation organization Sea Shepherd has long opposed Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and has sent ships since 2005 to intercept the hunts.
The group, however, did not send ships this year. Founder Captain Paul Watson told Australian Broadcasting Corp in August that Japan is “using military technology. They have real-time satellite coverage of where we are. We cannot close in on them.”
“It’s a waste of time and money to go down there and not be able to achieve anything,” he added.
Japan Kills 333 Minke #Whales Including 200 Pregnant Females https://t.co/3PtB1RKjDk @seashepherd @SeaShepherd_Aus pic.twitter.com/iiuyyD8Bo1
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) March 24, 2016
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