Japan's Brutal Whaling Industry Slaughters 200 Pregnant Minke Whales, Threatening an Entire Generation
Despite mounting pressure from many activist groups, Japan continues to
slaughter hundreds of whales every year – some of which are endangered –
in the name of "science." The nation hides behind the claim that the
slaughter is legal according to the 1946 whaling convention, which
allows whales to be killed for scientific purposes, as reported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. This same excuse is also used in Iceland and Norway.
However, in today's era of modern science, there is absolutely no need to kill a whale to study it. DNA samples can be taken from the skin, blubber and fecal matter while the animal is still alive, and then be used to determine vital information about its health. Meanwhile, population estimates can be done using sighting surveys and other completely harmless research methods.
"Scientific whaling" is simply just commercial whaling being carried out under a false pretense – the lie that the killing of these magnificent creatures is for scientific purposes. Unfortunately, a scientific permit requires whale meat to be "used" – which can be interpreted as sold or given away – meaning that this is pretty much a license to hunt whales and sell their meat.
Japan's whaling historyJapan has been whaling since the 12th century, but it wasn't until the 1890s that Japan really started to undertake what we know as modern whaling, according to True Activist. During the 20th century, Japan was heavily involved in commercial whaling, without much being done to limit the damage to whale populations. This only changed when the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling became effective in 1986.
Since then, Japan has continued to hunt whales under the guise of scientific research – a provision that was contained in the agreement – and the meat from scientific whale hunts is then sold in shops and restaurants. This practice involves spearing a living whale and dragging it while it struggles for freedom onto or behind the whaling vessel, where it dies a slow and agonizing death.
In 2014, Natural News reported that the International Court of Justice had ruled that a Japanese whaling program being undertaken in the Atlantic was not actually for scientific purposes, and an order was therefore passed to temporarily halt the whaling. This came after the Australian government filed a suit against Japan in the UN's highest court, in an attempt to end whaling in the Southern Ocean. This was celebrated by activists around the world, and was supposed to mark the end of "scientific whaling" in Japan, as reported by True Activist.
Japan is still whaling todayDespite the ruling by the International Court of Justice in 2014 that the Japanese whale hunt did not count as scientific, Japan's whaling fleet recently returned from the Antarctic with 333 minke whales – including pregnant females – a figure that has been confirmed by the Japanese government.
The Japanese fleet of four ships sailed to the Antarctic on the 1st December 2015, and arrived back on the 24th pf March 2016, according to International Business Times. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research reported that the capture included around 200 pregnant females, and Tokyo defended the capture, again under the guise of scientific research – even though most of the whales will end up being eaten for dinner.
While minke whale are not yet classified as endangered, according to the IWC, there has been an "appreciable decline in their estimated abundance." To bring back 200 pregnant females in one whale hunt will have a large impact on their numbers, and is not a sustainable way to hunt the species.
As reported by Think Progress, many countries, scientists and environmental organizations such as Sea Shepard, have condemned the killings and yet again questioned the "scientific research" excuse that Japan continues to use. According to Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt, whaling "is in my view abhorrent and a throwback to an earlier age. ... There is no scientific justification for lethal research."
Japan's whale research program has virtually nothing to do with science, and is entirely to do with exploitation of a legal loophole that allows them to profit from the unnecessary killing of hundreds of whales every year. We need to apply sustainable farming practices both on land and in the sea, whereby species can continue to thrive without being at risk of extinction due to human intervention.