Conservation organizations question Japan’s controversial ‘scientific whaling’ program after killing 333 minke whales

“The continued killing of any whale is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking.”

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Image Credit: Marianna Baldo/SEA SHEPHERD

After a newly published whaling report was published early this month, many conservation organizations are questioning Japan’s controversial “scientific whaling” program’s motive. The study conducted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) concluded that Japanese whaling vessels take in 333 Antarctic minke whales – 181 of which are females and 67 percent of which are pregnant – during its annual hunt.

Besides the high percentage of pregnant female minke whales killed, ICW’s report also determined that Japanese whalers killed 61 immature males and 53 immature females.

“The continued killing of any whale is abhorrent to modern society, but these new figures make it even more shocking,” Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at Human Society International, said.

Even with “significant conservation efforts underway worldwide to address the issues,” the Japanese government launched the controversial program in 1987 in which they claim that the mammals are killed for research purpose. The government plans to hunt upwards of 4,000 whales spread across the next 10 years, EcoWatch reported. And while they insist the killings aren’t done to endangered whales, the Japanese government claims that eating whale is also part of their culture.

“There is nothing scientific about harpooning a pregnant whale, chopping it up and putting it on a plate,” Tony Burke, Australia’s Labor Party environment spokesman, said. “Japan’s position on this is absurd and the Australian government must not be silent.”

Many experts believe the Japanese government is using the “scientific program” as a loophole in which its end goal is to reinstate commercial whaling.

“It is further demonstration, if needed, of the truly gruesome and unnecessary nature of whaling operations, especially when non-lethal surveys have been shown to be sufficient for scientific needs,” Wellbelove said.

The inhuman practice is fueling outrage and the Australian chapter of Human Society International is looking to the Australian government to intervene.

Sea Shepard, a conservation organization, has sent ships yearly since 2005 to try and intercept the whale hunts in the Antarctic Ocean, but this year the organization didn’t send any ships because Japan is using “military technology.”

“They have real-time satellite coverage of where we are, Paul Watson, founder and captain, said. “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.”

Wellbelove and other conservationists hope more countries, along with Australia, will be able to send “the strongest possible message to Japan that it should stop its lethal whaling program.”

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