The Government of Japan’s whaling fleet is returning to port having killed 551 or over half of its self-allotted quota this season. According to IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) 551 dead whales is 551 too many.
The Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) has posted a report from this year’s whaling season on the Japan Fisheries Agency website. The report states 551 minke whales have been killed and no fin whales.
“This year’s kill brings the total number of whales killed by Japan under its so-called research program in the Southern Ocean to 8728. The question is does Japan have enough samples yet?” IFAW Campaigns Manager, Darren Kindleysides, said.
“The international community shouldn’t be thanking Japan for killing fewer whales; we should be condemning them for killing whales in the first place. The ICR report actually provides further evidence for the Australian Government’s potential legal case against Japan.”
“Japan is flouting international law and the international community must take stronger action against Japan to end the sham that is ‘scientific’ whaling,” said Mr Kindleysides.
IFAW recommends Australia challenge Japan through international treaties and tribunals, such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to bring an end to scientific whaling once and for all.
Greenpeace also released a statement to the media today.
“Greenpeace played a significant part in nearly halving the amount of whales killed this season,” said Greenpeace Australia whales campaigner Rob Nicoll. “However, 551 whales is still over a hundred more than Japan took three years ago, in what is an internationally recognised whale sanctuary. This blatantly commercial whale hunt must end immediately.”
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza stopped the entire whaling operation for 15 days as it chased the Nisshin Maru across the Southern Ocean, over a distance of 4300 miles. Japan’s whaling fleet had also planned to kill 50 fin endangered fin whales, but failed to find any.
Greenpeace Japan whales campaigner Junichi Sato said, “Before this season’s hunt, the Institute for Cetacean Research had claimed a ‘rapid increase’ in fin whales – but now they’ve been forced to admit that they could not find any, yet another example of their failed research”
Greenpeace is also calling for an investigation into the refuelling of the fleet in the Antarctic treaty zone – breaching the spirit of the Antarctic treaty, to which they are a signatory, and using a vessel with no permit as part of the fleet to do so. The refuelling tanker Oriental Bluebird is registered in Panama and as such does not have a license to be part of the whaling fleet.
“Increasingly, Japanese media has begun questioning why the Japanese government continues to subsidise the whale hunt, and both domestic and international opposition to the continuation of the whaling programme is growing,” Mr Sato said.
The two sides of the whaling debate are once again preparing for the annual International Whaling Commission meeting taking place in Chile at the end of June 2008.